When and how to move a yucca?
Thanks to David Fuller for this great question! He wants to know: when to move a yucca and should it be given time to harden off, like with an agave or cactus.
Most yuccas are pretty tough and should easily survive being transplanted. As with other plants, dig as much of the root ball as possible, taking care not to break the plant while prying it from the ground.
If your yucca has been in the ground for a while, it may be quite a challenge to get it pulled up, and you may break the stem off if you aren’t careful.
Some of the roots will be large and may need to be cut, which will leave a wound, and you’ll need to give that wound time to heal before you stick it in the ground. Even if you don’t cut any large roots and you don’t notice any sap, the smaller roots that get broken also need a little time to heal. A day or two is normally plenty, and unlike other plants, most succulents can easily survive this time out of the ground, since they have stored water and nutrients available.
When you cut a succulent, whether the root, stem, or leaves, it will ooze sap, which contains sugars. And those sugars are a very attractive food source for soil fungi and other microbes, so you want to allow the plant to seal that wound before you put it back in the soil. If you like, you could dust the cut surface with a light application of fungicide, to be extra safe. Products containing sulfur, copper, or neem oil, which are labeled as acceptable for organic use, will all work fine.
There usually aren’t many issues with transplant shock on plants as tough as yuccas, agaves, and cacti, if you can get the plant out of the ground in one piece, and that is really the most challenging part.
The main issue that I hear about moving yuccas is not any problems with the plant that gets moved, but with the parts of the plant that are left behind. Those thick, succulent roots are extremely capable of regrowth, so there will most likely be reemergence from the original plant in the original spot, since it’s doubtful you’ll be able to get all the underground pieces when you dig it up. So if the transplant does happen to die for some reason, you may have some offshoots back in the original spot before too long. If you happen to want more plants, that would be a good thing, I suppose, but if you no longer want any trace of the yucca to remain in its original spot, it may take a while and considerable effort to remove enough of the roots to completely keep it from coming back.