Yucca thrives in hot, dry climates.Cristina Ionescu/iStock/GettyImages
There are many different types of yucca plants that grow in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 10. These drought-tolerant, evergreen perennials are found in deserts, mountains, tropical zones, semitemperate zones and grasslands. They are known for having pervasive, hard-to-kill root systems and are often thought to be invasive. In fact, yucca should never be grown in private yards. Instead, it is better to grow yucca in indoor or outdoor pots.
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Types of Yucca Plants
There are 40 to 50 types of yucca plants in the world and about 27 or so in the United States. These succulents have large, long, pointy leaves and sometimes bloom flowers. They can soar up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide, but there are smaller varieties. One of the largest types of yucca plants is the beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata), which has a tannish-brown foliage "pom-pom" and sharp blue leaves.
The Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa) features stiff, sword-shaped leaves with white threadlike filaments. They are best known for their giant, upright clusters of cream-colored flowers. Another well-known variety is the banana yucca (Yucca baccata), which produces fleshy fruits. If you prefer a little bit of color, you might like the red yucca plant (Hesperaloe parviflora), which has pretty pinkish flowers and is highly drought tolerant.
Killing Yucca Plants With Salt
If you don't want to dig out an enormous yucca root ball and dislike herbicides, you may be able to kill your yucca with some salt. Epsom salt can be very effective when used in high doses. Cut off the leaves and the plant down to the ground first, though. You will need to drill a large number of holes into the top of the stump with some gaps in between. Pour the salt all over it, filling the holes.
Then, pour on some water to moisten the salt but do not use too much. You can instead mix equal parts of salt and water and pour the mixture into the holes. Then, cover the stump with a tarp, and it should be dead in a few months. Keep checking the stump; you can add more salt and water if needed. Some gardeners claim that vinegar will kill yucca plants, but there is some disagreement on that. You might want to try this before resorting to using an herbicide.
Removing Yuccas by Hand
Yuccas are hard to kill, though there are some ways you can rid your yard of them. The most obvious choice is to dig them up, but this is not a quick process. Wearing gloves, trim off the sharp leaves with a pair of garden shears. Take a shovel or spade, dig down 4 to 5 feet and pull out the root ball.
Keep digging in that hole to find and collect any small root pieces that may have broken off. If left, they can produce baby yucca plants. Fill in the hole with new soil. Yucca plants can also be suffocated, but it might take up to a year. Cut off the leaves first and then cover the plant with a black plastic sheet, layers of newspaper or sheets of cardboard.
Other Ways to Get Rid of Yucca
Herbicides will also kill yucca plants, but this should be a last resort. If you must use chemicals, remove the leaves, cut down the trunk to the ground and saturate it with herbicide that includes glyphosate. For an older, larger trunk, drill a few holes into it and pour in the herbicide. Always follow the directions on the label when using herbicides and use proper precautions.