by Guest Blogger Jenny Holt
The yucca, not to be confused with the yuca or cassava root, is a plant native to the hot dry areas or the Americas and the Caribbean; it adapts to a variety of climates and can, to some extent, resist droughts. There are more than 40 species of yucca in the world and around 24 subspecies, creating an incredible variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
Yuccas are a popular choice as indoor and outdoor design plants and are often used for xeriscape landscapes but they can also be grown in containers while maintaining their beneficial properties. Container gardening can be an excellent choice if you want to grow your own medicinal plants or food but feel limited with regard to space and sunshine.
The Health Benefits of Yucca
Yucca flowers and fruit are nutritious and high in carbohydrates. The root, though not as tasty, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, containing important nutrients such as vitamins B, C, iron and calcium. The plant has also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis, colitis, hypertension and migraine headaches. The high amount of vitamin C and antioxidants present in the plant also boosts the immune system and overall health, protecting us from cell mutations and free radical damage. Furthermore, when placed indoors the yucca has notable air cleaning properties and is able to remove toxins from the air.
Yucca can also be used to make an all-natural shampoo and soap which is delicate on the skin and contributes to healing rashes and minor scratches.
How to Care for Yucca Plants
Yucca plant care is very simple, as yucca plants require little water and attention. It is best to place them in an area where there is sufficient but not direct sunlight, as direct sunlight, while increasing growth may cause browning tips or white, necrotic spots on the leaves. A light fertilization will help the plant grow but is not necessary for fully grown yuccas. Soil must be heavy enough to maintain the plant upright and well-draining; a three to one mixture of sand and peat is ideal for effective yucca growth in containers.
Yuccas will germinate quickly from fresh seed held over winter, and they germinate best in 60-70 degree temperatures. The seeds must be black or very dark brown and start to show signs of splitting; if they are still green, they are not ready to be removed from the original plant. Yuccas can also grow from stem cuttings, rhizomes and digging offsets from established plants.
The yucca is therefore a simple to care for but effective and beneficial plant, which every gardener should have in their home garden.
Jennifer Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two, who loves nothing more than to play, “where has the cat hidden itself now.”