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The green or blue-green, palm-like tuft of leaves and the bell-shaped flowers that can be seen from afar, depending on the species, make the yucca an imposing sight. Some species form a trunk. The drought-loving plants are basically very easy to care for. Nevertheless, serious deficiencies, especially in the water supply, can lead to irreparable damage. Signs of this can be a soft trunk, the result of root rot. In an early stage, the plants can often still be saved.

soft stem

What is wrong with the yucca palm?

Ornamental plants like the yucca are literally more likely to be watered to death than dried up. If you notice that the trunk of the yucca is soft in places or snaps when touched, it is not because the plant is missing something, but because it has been watered too much. Wetness is probably the biggest enemy of the yucca palm and in the worst case can lead to its death. If the soil is then heavily compacted, the loss of the plant is inevitable.


  • Root rot a common problem with Yucca
  • is caused by fungi and/or putrefactive bacteria
  • Damage to the roots can be significant
  • too much and prolonged wetness promotes the growth of these fungi
  • it also promotes the growth of putrefactive bacteria
  • Injuries to the trunk and compacted soil are other causes of root rot
  • lack of or poor drainage and humidity above 85 percent unfavorable
  • Planting yucca too deep can also cause root and stem rot
  • limp drooping, yellowish leaves, clear sign of rot
  • Growth is clearly limited
  • a musty smell is usually perceptible near the ground
  • Roots are no longer able to absorb water or nutrients, they wither away
  • in stem-forming species, a soft stem is an indication of root or stem rot

Trunk rot can occur on different parts of the trunk. It can be particularly problematic during the winter. If the plants are too wet and too cool at the same time, this will inevitably result in rot. In an early stage of the disease, the affected yucca palm can usually be saved, or at least parts of it, which can then be used to grow a new plant.

Tip: Soft stem parts are almost always the result of rot, while leaf discoloration can also have other causes.

What should I do

If rot is suspected, action should be taken as quickly as possible. Fighting this fungal infection is hardly possible. If the trunk is soft in places, there is often no doubt that there is root or trunk rot, while discolored leaves alone can also have other causes.


  • Palm lilies in the garden are affected less often
  • if suspected, dig up the plant and check roots for rot
  • Remove root parts that have rotted completely
  • then replant the plant in a different location
  • Specimens in pots or tubs are generally more likely to suffer from root rot
  • If there is a fungal infestation, repot the yucca as soon as possible
  • Remove old soil from the root ball and completely cut out rotten areas
  • rotting roots are brown and mushy
  • Cut back other affected parts of the plant as much as possible

If most of the root ball is still intact, remove the old soil and cut out any rotten spots around the root area. After that, it is advisable to wash the root thoroughly. The pot should also be cleaned thoroughly and have sufficient drainage holes. Drainage at the bottom of the pot is essential, as is a well-drained substrate. If all that is in place, the yucca palm can be planted again and kept a little drier at first.

If the bale has rotted to a large extent and parts of the trunk are already affected, you can cut out the soft parts of the trunk until you find a spot that is still firm. These solid parts can be replanted and used to grow new plants. The original plant cannot be saved and must be disposed of with household waste or incinerated. Under no circumstances should they be disposed of in the compost, as the putrefactive bacteria could spread there.

Tip: The cutting tools should be thoroughly cleaned before and after the cut and ideally also disinfected.

Effectively prevent rot

The best way to protect plants is to create optimal growing conditions for them. The condition of the soil and the water supply play an important role. The yucca palm is a very frugal plant. It requires little moisture to thrive. With specimens planted out in the garden, there is no need to worry even if the drought persists. If it still gives the impression that it needs water, e.g. if it lets its leaves hang, a small amount of watering is usually sufficient. Older specimens often even manage without any additional watering.


  • only young and freshly planted palm lilies require regular watering at the beginning
  • allow the top layer of soil to dry a few centimeters deep before each new watering
  • pay attention to good location and soil conditions in the garden
  • Avoid heavily compacted and waterlogged soils as much as possible
  • Soil should generally be well drained
  • Improve the permeability of heavy soils by adding plenty of sand
  • in addition to sand, coarser fractions such as gravel or perlite can ensure better permeability
  • In rainy years, protect yucca palms in the garden from too much moisture by covering them
  • Place potted plants in a sheltered spot
  • normal rains usually no problem

Of course, the needs-based supply of nutrients also plays an important role in plant health, because above all an oversupply can cause devastating damage to the roots and severely damage the yucca. Potted or tub plants should also have a permeable substrate and good drainage in the pot. Before each watering, the substrate is allowed to dry well on the surface, although potted plants need a little more water. Nevertheless, the bale should neither dry out completely nor be completely soaked and the plant should ideally be placed in a location that is protected from heavy rain.

Tip: When planting new plants or when repotting, it can be helpful to incorporate a suitable plant protection product into the substrate or soil to prevent root rot.

Buying a yucca palm tree

Things to consider when buying a yucca palm tree

In order to be sure when buying a palm lily that the plant is not already damaged, you should first take a look at the pot. Its size should correspond to the size of the plant and its shape, i.e. the number of stems. For example, if the cuttings or young plants are young, they should be well rooted.

Both the leaves and the trunk should be free of damage and dark spots. Furthermore, the interface or the head of the trunk must always be sealed. Otherwise there is a risk that fungi and germs as well as moisture can penetrate via this interface, which can lead to rot again. It is best to check the trunk for possible soft spots. If these are already available, it is definitely not advisable to buy the plant in question.

What may also be present is a pest infestation with mealybugs and scale insects, but also the caterpillars of the banana moth or the banana shoot borer, which hollows out the trunk of the yucca so that it can be easily squeezed together. In addition to a soft trunk, small holes in the trunk and drill dust lying on the ground indicate the banana shoot borer. It can also cause serious damage to the yucca palm.

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