Yucca Leaf Curl: Tips On Caring For Curling Yucca Plants

Yucca Leaf Curl: Tips On Caring For Curling Yucca Plants

By: Kristi Waterworth

Yuccas can make incredible and dramatic houseplants, if you know how to care for them properly. Often, inexperienced keepers find their plants begin to complain and then all-out riot with symptoms like curling leaves. When your plants develop yucca leaf curl, take a deep breath and look closely at their care and growing conditions. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – we’ll help you with caring for curling yucca plants.

Why are My Yucca Leaves Curling?

When you see yucca plant leaves curling, it’s easy to panic and worry that your plants are perched at the edge of the abyss between life and death, but usually these problems are ugly and very minor. In fact, more often than not, the biggest damage linked to curled leaves is the cosmetic defect itself.

However, if you notice curling leaves on yucca, it’s important to find the source. After all, until you know what the problem is, you can’t stop it. There are two main causes of leaf curl, those are:

Care issues. Yucca, like many species, require exacting conditions for optimal health. Too much or too little sun, or improper feeding or watering can result in unusual symptoms. In yucca, a lack of light and too much water may both be cause for curling leaves. Make sure your plant is getting at least eight hours of bright, indirect sunlight and just barely enough water to keep it alive.

Waiting until the top inch (2.5 cm.) of the pot feels dry will help prevent root rot. If your plant stands in water all the time, you need to get rid of that catch saucer or repot it into a container with better drainage.

Sap-feeding insects. Insects like aphids and thrips feed by tapping directly into plant cells and sucking out the fluid inside. If they do this while the leaves are developing, it can cause the tissues to twist, curl or pucker. Although you can see both aphids and thrips, they are very small and may require a hand magnifier to distinguish from the background. They also tend to hide in small crevices between leaves or within the plant’s crown.

Use insecticidal soap to cure these soft-bodied pests. A once a week spray regimen can kill adults and emerging nymphs, but you’ll have to be vigilant and continue spraying for a few weeks after the last pest is seen to ensure you’ve killed all potential hatchlings. Tissues damaged by sap-feeding insects will never recover, but if your plant has plenty of undamaged leaves, you can pick off a few damaged ones with no issue.

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Dealing With Yucca Cane Drooping

There are no branches on yucca cane. Instead of them there are long, narrow leaves growing right from the stems. Sometimes there can be yucca cane drooping.

Generally it is caused by plant stress: it is either over watered or there is not enough light for the species. Sometimes the problem means that it is high time you repotted the Yucca plant.

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Yucca cane drooping is evinced by leaves curling at first, then falling off. If you want to keep your plant healthy, you will have to create conditions similar to those of native environment of yucca.

As the plant originally belongs to hot and sunny areas, it is used to direct sunlight and its lack can contribute to drooping foliage. The plant tolerates low humidity and temperatures varying from 30 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The soil should be slightly moist for the plant to thrive. In winter it is necessary to reduce watering. If you over water the plant, the root rot may develop which will eventually result in drooping leaves as well.

How to Care for Yellow Leaves on Yucca Plants

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Yucca plants (Yucca spp.) require very little care to thrive and are resistant to many problems. Most yuccas grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 10 and below. It's natural for some yucca leaves to yellow, but severe yellowing may indicate a problem. Most yellow foliage on yuccas is caused by improper cultural care, although some diseases and pests can cause the yellowing. Promptly diagnosing the cause and managing it helps to bring yellowing yuccas back to good health.

Check the moisture in the soil surrounding each yucca plant that has yellow leaves. Wet, soggy soil can cause root rot, which results in dying, yellow leaves. Reduce watering the yuccas if their soil feels wet. Yuccas planted in ground outdoors rarely require supplemental water, and potted yuccas need water only when their soil is almost completely dry.

Transplant the yuccas to a site where the soil drains better if their current location's soil drains poorly or collects water during rainfalls. Begin the transplanting process by digging around a yucca plant's roots carefully and lifting the entire plant from the site. Plant the yucca in a slightly sandy, well-drained area at the same depth it was planted previously.

Inspect the underside of the yucca leaves for webs, which are left by spotted mite pests. Treat spotted mite-infected yuccas by washing the webs from their leaves with a damp rag every three to five days. For major spotted mite infestations, apply an acaracide pesticide, following all of the pesticide package's safety and application instructions.

Remove dead yellow foliage at its base. Grasp a dead leaf with a gloved hand, and pull the leaf gently. If the leaf doesn't pull off easily, trim it close to the main stalk or plant base with a sharp knife.

  • A period of cold or freezing weather can cause yellowed, dead foliage on some yuccas. Trim off the dead foliage after the weather warms and the plant begins new growth.
  • Some fungi can cause yellow spots of yuccas, but those issues typically solve themselves if you avoid overwatering the plants. Remove badly infected foliage or treat severe infestations with a fungicide.

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Additional comments about this answer:

Lori Klump · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Thank you both so much for the replies. I will dig down to check on the dampness of the soil. I suspect they are being over watered. If that doesn't prove to be the case, I'll post a photo for further insights!

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
You're very welcome. Let us know what you find. If you upload a picture we will automatically be notified of this and will get back to you.

Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Lori-There are usually only a few things that will cause the leaves to yellow, brown, and die. After three years your plants should be well established. In my location they are extremely hardy with very little pests or desease. They are also very drought resistant.

The yucca needs plenty of sunlight and won't do well if in much shade. They need a well draining soil as they are highly sensitive to too much water. They do well if soil is left to dry somewhat between waterings. Many areas this year have had a lot of rain which may be the case in your location. Speaking to other members in parts of Texas I found many areas have heavy clay soils. Clay soils can hold a lot of water and watering too much at times can cause problems. Of course too little water can also cause problems with the leaves turning yellow and then browning. I have many yuccas planted throughout my location that over time become void of their lower leaves. Yucca plants like most plants will typically lose their older leaves at times. In the case of the yucca this would be the lower leaves. They will normally turn brown and droop. In my area most of the yucca plants within a few years have the appearance of a small tree with very few leaves down low on the trunks. If most of the upper leaves are still looking normal and not changing color this may be what is happening.

If you can upload a picture of your yucca it may help to determine what the problem may be. A picture of any discoloration or spotting of any leaves would help if this is appearent on any of the leaves. Above this answer and to the right of your name you will see where you can upload your pictures.

Yucca Care Guide and Basic Growing Tips

How to grow yucca? The basic requirements are the following:

  • bright light
  • if kept in house, 3-5 feet of a window
  • sandy soil
  • good drainage

Let’s check the details. If this is an indoor plant you should keep it in high or bright light settings. I usually allow the top 1/3 of soil to dry out before I start watering it again. If it happens so that the setting doesn’t have much light, nearly ¾ of the soil should dry down between the watering. If possible, use sub-irrigation to water house plants.

While watering, don’t let your plant sit in a saucer of water, which accumulated in the bottom. Be careful, as this extra water encourages rotting. Additional tips on growing are:

  • providing intense light at least once a day
  • using heavy pots, if there’s no such chance, place rocks on the top of soil in order to keep pot upright
  • water regularly, because if the plant doesn’t get enough liquid, its leaves will soon turn yellow and then brown

In winter: I always try to provide lower temperatures. Once I didn’t and some of my plants didn’t survive.

In summer: I leave them outdoors allowing getting more light, getting used to high heat and benefiting from fresh air. About 3-4 hours a day they are in direct sun. As this makes the soil dry out faster, I water it several times a week. This is basic caring for yucca.

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Do not forget about pruning. With most plants this procedure stands for cutting the blooms and branches, while now we are speaking about cutting the trunk. For those species that grow outside this process is not necessary.

How to prune? The best time for it is spring. It should be done before the growing season:

  • I determine a halfway mark on my plant and take a cutting device. Usually it is a saw.
  • Using it, I lop off the leafy section that is on the top on the trunk.

For most people cutting at a halfway point is too difficult as it makes the trunk too short. Well, there’s no single rule, so you can cut a little bit higher. This is it.

For additional care for yucca you can also cut off blooms and leaves. Removing them can be done regardless of season, as there is no need to get worried about damaging the plant. So, when I see that the bloom is dying or old, I cut it off.

If you remove stalks, you can also use sharp shears and cut the stalk at about 4 inches above the place it grows out of the major stem. This is how to care.

Diseases That Affect Yucca Plants And Ways to Control Them

Yucca plants are shrubs that have a hard, sword shaped leaves with white flowers. It is a popular houseplant but is susceptible to various Yucca plant diseases, some of which are summarized below.

Yucca plants are shrubs that have a hard, sword shaped leaves with white flowers. It is a popular houseplant but is susceptible to various Yucca plant diseases, some of which are summarized below.

The scientific name is Yucca elephantipes, and they have sharp, spear-shaped projections, which radiate from the central stalk. They are highly popular, both as indoor and outdoor plants. Although they are relatively easy to maintain, they are susceptible to some problems. Some of them include yellowing of the leaves, lesions, brown discoloration on the surface of the leaves, and rotting of the stem. Some other Yucca plant diseases are given in the following paragraphs.

Brown Spots

Appearance of brown spots on the leaves is among one of the most common problems. The spots are generally of 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter with a purple border. These spots on the leaf first appears as tiny clear zones in older leaves. The spots turn yellowish and finally brown, as they mature. They are usually oval in shape and are scattered across the entire surface the leaves that are at the bottom. Yellow leaves are also seen in some cases.

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Control Measure:

This can be best cured by simply removing the infected leaves. Spray the plant with a fungicide to prevent brown spots from appearing again.

Gray Leaf Spotting

Gray leaf spotting is also among one of the many problems. These are more common in older leaves and are seen as legions, which are gray in color with brown margins.

Control Measure:

To control this, apply a fungicide and remove the infected leaves.

Necrotic Tips

Due to death of cells, the tips and edges of the plant shrivel up. There can also be discoloration of the leaves along the tips and edges.

Control Measure:

To take care of this problem, increase the pH of soil by adding lime.

Stem Rot

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One of the most common problems that most homeowners have to deal with is rotting of the stems. If the decay is not arrested at the beginning, it might lead to destruction of the whole plant. Rotting is caused by bacteria, and you will find the stem of the leaves having a soft mushy discharge, which gives an unpleasant odor.

Control Measure:

This can be avoided by using only sterilized pots and proper potting soil when planting the cuttings.


Sometimes, you might see a white growth on the plant, which has a fan-like pattern. This is usually found on the stems near the surface of the soil. These problems are caused by fungal attacks, and it is called sclerotia.

Control Measure:

It can be somewhat controlled by use of a proper fungicide.

Tips for Growing

The best way of growing this plant is from a cutting. The cuttings should come from a mature growth rather than a new growth, as the new growth is more prone to rotting. Use a sharp knife to take a cutting from the plant and remove the top most leaves. Place the cutting in a shady place for 2 to 3 days to allow the cutting to dry out. Now, place the cutting in some potting soil and keep it in a place where it can get direct sunlight. It will take about 3 to 4 weeks for the cutting to grow roots. Another way is from the seeds, which takes anywhere from a month or a year to germinate. Plant the seeds in potting soil after lightly rubbing the seeds with a bit of sandpaper. Regular watering of the soil is very crucial if you want to see the seedlings sprout in about 1 to 2 weeks.

So, we have seen that there are many yucca plant diseases that are caused both by bacterial as well as fungal attack. Use of fungicides are helpful for preventing such diseases caused by fungi, but their use should not be used more than twice a year, as it stunts the growth of the plant.

Q. Why isn’t my new repotted swiss cheese plant growing?

I have a swiss cheese plant at home. It is about 3 years old now. Last spring I repotted it and split the plant. Before repotting, the plant grew rapidly-shooting out new larger leaves often in the spring and summer. Since repotting it has only one new very small leaf. Also, some of the leaves have turned yellow. I put the main plant back in the same spot. The other half I have placed in an another location. I didn't change watering or fertilizing habits. Can you help me figure out why either plant doesn't seem happy in its new bigger roomier pot?

Yellowing leaves generally indicate a watering issue, to much or to little. Check the soil to make sure it is moist but not soggy. The pot should be well draining.
If you reduced the roots in the pot but have not decreased watering, they may be overwhelmed with moisture.

Here are some great articles that will help you with care.

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