How to Separate Yucca Pups

You may have noticed offshoots growing off the main trunk if you’ve had a yucca plant for a while. These are called pups. Yuccas propagate through seeds or offshoots. But most yuccas are known for spreading or creating pups.

 Removing a pup is easy but sometimes takes a little muscle. We’ll explain the process of removing a pup from the mother yucca.

Yucca Pups Lead to Propagation

Yucca pups are known as sister plants, babies or offshoots. They form on the parent plant. Lateral roots from the parent plant are beneath the soil’s surface.

Pups can be separated from the parent plant. Once separated, you will plant them in separate pots. At this point, they can grow on their own.

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Preparation for Removing Pups

You’re going to need a few tools to get started. Most can probably be found in your shed or garage.

You’ll need:

  • Gloves
  • Hand spade
  • Hand saw or garden knife
  • Tarp (optional)
  • Yuca soil
  • Pot
  • Bottle of cinnamon

Always use gloves when working around yuccas, even if they seem soft. Yuccas have a bite.

Some people will use a garden knife to cut off the pup if it’s small enough. I always use a hand saw. It just seems easier and safer. The tarp is optional for placing the excess dirt from the plant. Some people are nervous about stray roots from the yucca taking root in the ground if they’re working in their yard. I haven’t had that problem.

Finally, you’ll need an appropriately sized pot and soil for the pup. The pot should be roughly one size bigger than the root ball. You don’t want too big of a pot because yuccas like to be a little root bound. And moisture could be a problem in too large of a pot.

Identify Yucca Pups

Yucca pups will be attached to the main stalk. They are at the base of the yucca. Some pups may be in the soil adjacent to the parent plant.

The above photo shows a yucca with two pups. You’ll notice how firmly the pups are attached to the parent plant.

Select Yucca Pup to Divide

Decide which pups you want to divide from the parent plant. You want a pup that is mature enough to live on its own from the main plant.

The pup should be green. If it is still white or predominantly white, it’s too young to live on its own. The pup should also be eight to 12 inches minimally tall. I like to wait until they’re at least 12 inches. But as you will see, I’ve waited longer.

Pup in Ground

This article is about dividing pups that are attached to the plant on the stalk. When the yucca is planted in the ground, pups often come up. If you have a pup in the soil adjacent to the plant, you must dig it up and cut the pup’s roots away. Sometimes a pup will also grow next to the parent in a pot.

Make sure you leave part of the parent’s roots still attached to the pup. Regardless of if it’s originally from the ground, the pup will still need to be potted after it’s divided. You can’t just plant it in the ground.

When to Divide a Yucca Pup

There is debate as to when to separate a pup from a yucca. Some will say in the fall because the yucca is about to enter its dormant period. Others say they should only be divided between the spring or early summer.

After 20 tears of owning yucca, I only divide yucca in the spring or early summer and never divide them in the fall or winter. The reason is the winter dormancy. Winter and fall are dormant periods for yucca and they will have a difficult time recovering from the cut. Yucca growth accelerates in the spring and early summer. This allows the yucca to recover quicker.

Dividing a Yucca Pup

There are several steps to dividing a pup from the parent plant. The most important step is to be careful and wear gloves. This is especially important when using a knife or saw.

Also, remember that some yucca can have sharp leaves. So, besides gloves, you might want to wear long sleeves.

Remove Parent Yucca from Pot

Take the entire adult yucca plant out of the pot. This may be difficult if you have a mature plant that is root bound. You must be careful not to break the pot or damage the yucca.

I ran a hand saw on the inside of the pot all around the perimeter to cut the roots away. This loosened it up, but it was still difficult. It takes a little strength, and with a bigger yucca, it may be a two-person job. In my case, it was a two-person job.

Once you’ve removed the yucca from the pot, lay it on the ground or other flat surface.

Cut Pup Off Main Yucca

Take a hand saw or knife and cut the pup as close to the main truck as possible. Then, in a downward fashion, cut all the way through to detach the pup. You don’t want to tear it off the trunk; you want a clean cut.

Ensure that some of the main yucca’s roots are still attached to the pup. This will ensure the pup takes root in its new pot.

Place Yucca Pup in Pot

Once you have detached the pup from the parent, take a regular bottle of cinnamon and rub some on the pup’s cut area. Cinnamon contains auxin that works to promote growth. Cinnamon also has antimicrobial and anti-bacterial qualities that will protect the young yucca.

Pour your soil into the pot. Place the yucca roots down into the pot. Never try to plant a pup directly into the ground. Always start your pup in a pot. Then if you want to later, you can transplant it into the ground.

Bury all roots. Don’t pack the soil too tight.

Care for Parent Yucca

The parent plant has sustained a wound from the cut. You’ll want to help it heal.

Take a regular bottle of cinnamon and rub some on the cut area as you did with the pup. Return the parent yucca to the pot and give it some fresh soil. I use a mixture of perlite and potting soil. Water the parent yucca.

Pups After Care

Once you have the pup in the pot; water it. Keep it damp, not soaked, for a week, and then water it like any other yucca. Make sure it has plenty of sunshine.

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Dividing Pups Saves Money

Dividing a yucca isn’t difficult, but it may take some muscle if you have a large one. But for the smaller ones, it’s easy.

The best part about dividing a pup from a parent yucca is now you have two yucca. You can keep your yucca, give it as a gift or even eventually sell it. Regardless, you can save money by not having to buy another yucca.

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