Yuccas are drought resistant plants that require the top 2.5 inches of the soil to dry out between each watering. Always water yucca with a good soak, so that water runs out the drainage holes of the pot. Typically, watering every 14 days or so is appropriate, but this varies depending on climate.
Keep reading for how establish the optimal watering schedule for yucca plants according to your specific climate and conditions indoors…
How Often to Water Yucca Plants (Indoors)
Yuccas are drought resistant plants that are native to Mexico and South Western USA in dry deserts, rocky badlands and mountainous areas with well draining soil, and infrequent rainfall.
Yucca plants are adapted to their arid environments with thick fleshy roots that store water from infrequent rainfall and their leaves are coated with an oily substance that reduces water loss (transpiration) from the leaves.
Yuccas are so well suited to growing in dry soils without much moisture that the biggest mistake when watering is always watering too often which results in the leaves turning yellow and drooping as a sign of stress with root rot being a common problem.
To grow yucca tress successfully it is important to emulate the watering and well draining soil conditions of its native environment by keeping it on the dry side rather then over watering.
Yucca plants require the top 2.5 inches of the soil to feel dry to the touch before watering. This typically means watering yucca plants every 10-14 days but can vary according to differences in climate.
However the how often you water depends on how quickly the top 2.5 inches of the soil dries out. This can vary due to:
- Humidity of your climate (higher humidity requires less frequent watering).
- The size of the pot (small pots dry out much quicker).
- Whether your yucca is in an air current caused by air con or forced air or next to any source of heat (air currents sap more moisture for the leaves).
- The capacity of the soil to retain moisture (yucca requires well draining soil).
To establish how often to water your yucca plant according to your specific conditions feel the soil to a fingers depth.
If you can still detect moisture then do not water just yet, but if the soil feels somewhat dry then this is the perfect time to water.
With some practice and diligent monitoring of the soil you can establish the precise point at which your soils starts to go from moist to dry and create the optimal watering schedule for your yucca plant in your home.
This frequency of watering replicates the cycle of drought followed by a down pour of rain in the yuccas native environment.
How to Tell if you are Watering your Yucca too Often or not Enough…
If you are watering yucca too frequently the the leaves start to to turn yellow and droop which indicates water stress.
Yucca are very susceptible to water stress and root rot due to their preference for dry conditions.
(To revive your over watered yucca, read my article why are my yucca leaves turning yellow?)
If you are not watering yucca often enough or watering too lightly then the yuccas leaves start to droop, curl and can turn brown.
If this is the case it is important to water more frequently and use a generous soak every time you water.
Ideally a dehydrated plant pot should be placed in a basin of water and left for 20 minutes so that the soil gets a good soak and the yucca can restore the stored water supplies in their roots.
Within 2 or 3 cycles of watering at the right frequency the yucca should recover.
It is worth noting that it is always easy to revive an under watered yucca then an over watered plant due to their natural resilience to drought conditions.
(Read my article, how to revive a dying yucca plant).
How Much to Water Yucca Plants
Knowing how much water yuccas require and the correct method for watering is essential to avoid drought stress or root rot.
Whilst there are many variables that influence how often to water your yucca, the amount of water should stay the same.
Water yucca plants generously so that water visibly trickles out the drainage hole in the base of the pot.
This ensures that the water has infiltrated the soil and reached the roots so they can effectively uptake the moisture they require.
Watering generously also promotes good root development to further increase the yuccas resistance to drought.
If you water yucca too lightly then only the top inch or so of the soil is moist and the water does not soak down and reach the yuccas roots which causes drought like symptoms of drooping leaves that curl and turn brown.
Watering with a good soak also recreates the typical conditions in the yuccas native environment of a heavy down poor of rain followed by dry weather with high temperatures.
Well Draining Soil Mitigates Over Watering
Watering your yucca the right amount should be in conjunction with the appropriate well draining soil mix to effectively avoid root rot.
Conventional potting soil that is unamended with sand or grit retains too much moisture around the roots for a drought tolerant plant such as yucca and can cause the leaves tot turn yellow and promotes the conditions for the roots to rot.
Potting mixes that contain peat are also not suitable as peat becomes hydrophobic (repels water) when it dries out which causes water to run off the surface of the soil and out the base of the pot rather then infiltrate the soil properly.
This can give the impression that you are watering your yucca with the right quantity as water is trickling out the base of the pot but in reality the moisture has not reached the roots.
To keep your yucca healthy it is important to recreate the soil characteristics of the yuccas native habitat.
This means the soil for your yucca should be amended with horticultural sand or grit to promote good drainage.
Add around 30% by volume of grit and mix evenly with potting soil for the optimal drainage characteristics for yucca.
Succulent and cacti soil can also work well for growing yucca as it has similar drainage qualities but it is usually much more expensive then ordinary potting soil and grit.
With good soil it is so much easier to maintain the correct moisture balance for yucca to prevent root rot and keep the plant healthy.
Use a Pot With Drainage Holes in the Base
Yucca plants really do not tolerate being in damp soil for any significant period of time, so it is important to plant yucca in pots with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to easily escape.
Watering so that excess water trickles out the base of the pot is one of the best ways to ensure you yucca has been properly watered so that moisture reaches the roots to keep the plant healthy.
If you yucca pot does not have holes then water collects around the roots and the yucca dies back from root rot.
Water can still pool around the roots of your potted yucca if:
- Saucers and trays underneath the pot are not emptied. Yucca plants often have trays underneath the pot to prevent water spilling in the home. It is important that the tray is regularly emptied of water as it can keep the soil at a level of moisture that causes the yuccas roots to rot.
- Compacted soil or roots can slow drainage. If you notice the water in your pot draining slowly then check the drainage hole to ensure it has not become blocked so that water can drain effectively.
- Water yucca plants with a generous soaking so that water trickles from the base of the pot. Always wait for the top 2.5 inches of soil to dry out between bouts of watering to avoid root rot. Ensure that you empty the any excess water in the tray underneath the pot.
- Yucca should be planted in well draining potting mixture amended with grit for improved drainage.
- Always plant yucca in pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent water collecting around the roots and causing root rot.
- The symptoms of under watered yucca are leaves drooping and curling, eventually turning brown whereas over watered yucca leaves turn yellow.