What is Growing Out of My Yucca

yucca pups

Yucca plants are perennials that produce attractive flowers and sword-like leaves. In addition to these apparent features, yuccas also develop growths called side shoots – small offshoots at the base of the plant that become full-sized yucca plants over time. Understanding how this process works is helpful in caring for a yucca plant and propagating yucca plants.

If something is growing out of your yucca plant, it could be one of two things. One is side shoots growing out of the base of the plant, also known as offsets or pups. Two is a flower spire coming out from the center of the plant.

Neither of these growths should alarm you, but it is crucial to know how to tend to your yucca plant for them to bloom or propagate. So read ahead, and we’ll look at how side shoots develop, how to care for them, and eventually propagate or remove them!

How Do Side Shoots Develop?

The first step to understanding how a yucca side shoot develops is to know that each side shoot originates from the vascular tissue of an existing leaf—a small, raised area forms on the leaf where the side shoot will sprout.

Side shoots develop due to the plant’s innate ability to regenerate itself, which is why yuccas are often used as ornamental plants. If you aren’t looking for new growths, you can remove them; however, if you propagate them, they will eventually grow into an entirely different plant.

Yuccas produce seeds, but they are generally propagated by dividing offshoots or “pups.” These tiny yet fully developed plants grow at the mother plant’s base and can be propagated to create new, self-sufficient plants. The yucca plant generates side shoots primarily in the spring or summer, although they can appear at any time.

Once it emerges, the side shoot looks like a miniature version of the main plant. It can be cut away from the mother plant and transplanted elsewhere. Take the cut side shoot and replant it in a pot with soil and perlite for aeration or cactus potting mix, then add the yucca plant cutting. Place it in indirect light. When the cutting develops roots, which can take three to four weeks, you’ll have a new yucca plant.

Side shoots can live off the parent plant’s roots, gaining the essential water and nutrients it needs to form fully.

Sometimes a side shoot may occur as a last-ditch effort to reproduce if the plant is in distress or in danger of dying. But the majority of the time, it’s just the parent plant going through natural reproduction.

What Do I Do with Side Shoots?

When you see a side shoot develop on your yucca plant, you may be wondering what to do with it. While you can leave it to grow, you may also want to transplant it to create a new plant. Side shoots are a natural way for yucca plants to propagate, and they are easy to care for.

You can do one of two things with the side shoots— you can propagate them to grow a whole new yucca plant or prune them. Depending on the frequency of your yucca plant reproducing, you may not have the capacity in your yard to house a new plant.

There is no shame in pruning the side shoots to ensure your existing yucca plant stays healthy. If you want to grow a new yucca plant out of the side shoots, make sure the shoot is mature enough to grow without the assistance of the parent. An easy way to tell if the shoot is mature enough is by the color. If it’s white, leave it alone, but green is a go.

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How to Plant a Side Shoot to Grow a New Yucca

When the side shoot is mature enough to exist outside of the parent, remove as much soil from around the shoot as possible. This way, you can see how long the stem is— at least ¼ inch is good. Then use shears or a knife to remove the shoot. Take some of the parent’s roots with the cutting. This will serve as the root system foundation for the young side shoot.

Even if you live in a perfect climate for growing yucca, you want to start potting the shoot first— that way, it has time to grow solid roots. Be sure to use a combination of soil and perlite for aeration. You can also use cactus and succulent soil. Once the new yucca has grown sturdy roots, you can move it outside to a space in your yard.

Make sure there is plenty of space for the yucca plant to grow outside. Small varieties can grow between 2 to 4 feet in height and width. Larger varieties can grow as tall as 30 feet and as wide as 25 feet. Be sure no surrounding landscape will infringe on this growth and vice versa.

Do All Yucca Plants Bloom?

It’s possible you purchased your yucca plant when it was young and had no knowledge of the possibility that it could bloom. On the other hand, perhaps your yucca plant has never bloomed, and you are questioning why. 

All yucca plants bloom when they reach maturity and under the right circumstances. It typically takes a yucca plant two to three years to reach maturity, but it can take even longer, possibly five years, to flower. After that, the bloom can happen as frequently as once a season, but on average, it’s more like once every few years.

The flower spire can grow upward of 10 feet depending on the variety. For example, ‘Bright Edge’ yucca’s flower spire can grow between 8 to 10 feet. ‘Color Guard’ yucca’s flower spire can grow up to 6 feet. This is something to keep in mind when reviewing your landscape for planting.

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How Will the Flower Spire Affect My Yucca Plant?

The yucca flower bloom can last for a few glorious weeks before wilting and dying. You can choose to leave the stem of the flower spire once the flower has died, or you can cut it off. There is no evidence to suggest that pruning the flower stem would encourage additional blooming, but it may prevent the development of side shoots.

The death of the flower spire has no adverse effects on your yucca plant. On the contrary, your yucca will continue to grow and thrive with proper care. The only natural effect the spire has on the plant is the seeds from the flower after it wilts. Those seeds can fall into the soil around the base of the yucca plant and produce more plants.


Thankfully, the two things growing from your yucca are beautiful and productive. So you can enjoy the flowering in those summer weeks and plant as many new plants year-round.

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