Are Yucca Roots Invasive? | How to Stop Yucca Plants Causing Damage

Yucca plants are hardy, drought tolerant plants that come from South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. They have tough roots that reach out forming a matt like structure near the surface of the soil. This helps them to quickly absorb any rain that falls. Yucca also have a deep tap root, a central root that will reach down into the soil to reach deeper ground water.

Yucca plants are hardy and grow a wide root system relative to their size. You can keep them contained in a pot to keep their root system under control. They can survive and grow even hen they are pot bound. Their tough and fibrous roots hold water, looking similar to the roots of the bird of paradise plant.

Yucca plants can become invasive if they are not contained. Their roots will reach out seeking water and can invade nearby leaking pipes, lift paving or even invade concrete.

It is best to plant yuccas away from any structures or to keep them contained in a pot. They make a great indoor or outdoor specimen plant and can survive in tough, dry conditions.

My yucca plant has been happily growing in the same pot for over 4 years. I have never watered it and it survives on its own without any care. The only thing I do is to remove the old leaves to tidy up the stems.

New pups or baby yuccas will sprout from the base of the plant and can be trimmed off and grown on their own.

This article will explore all you need to know about growing yucca plants, more about how to contain their roots and the best way to stop them becoming invasive.

Yucca plants have a deep tap root

Yucca plants grow tall and will have an equally deep tap root to match if they have the space to grow it. This large, central root will head down deep into the soil to help the plant access deeper moisture in the soil. This helps the plant to survive drought conditions in harsh environments.

This makes these plants extra hardy in pots. Take care to look out for the tap root escaping out the bottom of your pot if it has a central hole. Before planting your yucca it is best to cover the hole with some wire mesh to stop the root from venturing out the bottom.

My yucca plant has been growing in the same pot for 4 years. It is growing tall and has grown a pup.

If you are planting yuccas in the ground keep them away from structures, swimming pools, pipes or garden beds that you don’t want them in. Their strong roots can cause damage and become invasive if they grow unchecked.

Yucca plants have a wide matting root system

Yucca plants also have a complex and matted root system that will grow near the surface of the soil, concentrated mainly in the top 20 inches. These smaller roots will help the plant to access rainwater quickly and any surface moisture that settles on the soil in the cool morning.

These roots are tough to dig through and help to stabilize the plant in the soil.

This matted root system will stop other plants from growing nearby starving them of soil, water and nutrients.

These roots can spread wide, invading nearby garden beds, shifting nearby pavers or garden edging if they are planted too close. Make sure that there is at least 3 feet of space between the yucca, other plants and edging to avoid the matted shallow roots invading the area.

How to stop yucca roots from becoming invasive

While yucca roots can become invasive there are some ways that you can help to control their growth. These easy tips will help to stop yucca roots invading other plants, garden beds and causing damage.

1. Keep yucca plants contained in a pot

The best way to control yucca plants and to stop them from becoming invasive is to grow them in pots. They can grow well indoors and outdoors and prefer a full sun position. Place them near a bright window and give them plenty of airflow.

Choose a pot that will contain them for the next 3-4 years. After this they can be lifted out and trimmed back. Yucca plants can survive in a smaller pot that expected and will still grow even if they are root bound.

Stop the tap root from escaping out the bottom of the pot by covering the central drainage hole with wire mesh. This will still allow water to drain through but will prevent the roots from coming out of the pot and reaching the ground soil.

2. Surround yucca plants with a barrier

Garden barriers are a good way to stop yucca roots from spreading outwards (laterally) these plastic surround can be dug into the soil around the plant and can help to keep the roots in check. It is best to dig these barriers into the ground before planting to keep the roots to a smaller size.

3. Plant yuccas away from structures

It is important to plant yuccas away from any structures. Because of their invasive root system they can damage concrete, paving, pools and other plants.  Give them as much space as possible with a minimum of 3 feet but more would be better.

Are Yucca Roots Invasive? | Summary

Yucca roots can become invasive as the large tap root digs deep into the soil and the smaller lateral roots spread out. The tough surface roots form a tight matt which can stop other plants from growing nearby. Yucca roots can spread causing damage to nearby structures, pipes or pools.

Keep yucca plants away from any structure to avoid any damage from their root growth. Yuccas are great drought tolerant plants for a dry garden, just keep them contained in a pot to stop them spreading.

Happy growing.