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Planning Retirement Online

Your Gardening Queries - 9


Mary Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?         

With silver bells and cockle shells,                    

And pretty maids all in a row....                     


If only gardening were as simple as that little nursery rhyme. But it isn`t, so we are putting some of the solutions here to problems you have written to us about, so everyone can have the benefit.


Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife.  Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary.

This month`s gardening problems  - January 2004

Help, what is happening? I am thinking of starting a YUKKA forum as they seem to be the plants causing you most grief. Three more yukka problems this month.

Q: Dominique asks:  Our yukka plant has out grown our house in that it is over 8ft tall and touching the ceiling!! We want to cut the top off but I'm wondering how brutal can I be and will it then sprout in two at the top. I also had it in my head that you could replant the bit we chop off. Please advise. Thanks

A: Yes you are right on both counts, you can cut the top off your yukka and  re-plant it. But, if you can wait until the Spring, when the days are longer and growth has resumed, the piece you chop off will have a better chance of taking root. It is dormant at the moment and may rot over winter..


Q: Rachel asks: I have had a yukka plant for about eighteen months. It has grown very tall and I am very pleased with it, however in the last few weeks the tips of the leaves have turned brown, some are even starting to crisp and there are beige patches appearing on one or two of the leaves. I live in Ireland and the plant is in the kitchen which would probably be warmer over the last few months, because the central heating is on. I keep the blinds open during the day, but it is now getting dark about 4pm.  It has been watered about once every fortnight.

A:  I am quite puzzled by your Yukka problems because they are such tough plants, that seem to tolerate most conditions including dry air, which is what I first suspected the problem was..

According to my latest houseplant book, the main cause of brown tips on leaves is dry air. We had a very warm summer and are now suffering a dark and cold spell, so the sudden change of conditions could be the cause of that problem. It also states in the book that over or under watering could cause the tips of the leaves to go brown,  in fact any extreme condition could harm the leaves. The book also puts the cause of the beige patches as either overwatering or underwatering.

If the patches are soft and dark brown overwatering is the probable reason and if the patches are crisp and brown, underwatering is the likely cause..I don`t always take too much notice of books however, so here is what I would do...

  • Check the plant thoroughly for any signs of infestation

  • Check the compost is healthy

  • Check the compost is not too wet or too dry

  • Give the plant a light but draught-free place to overwinter

  • Let it live outside in the summer.

  • In the Spring re-pot it if necessary.

Q: Linda says:  My yukka plant used to be full with leaves last year. This year I have it in my living room where there was adequate lighting, I watered it from time to time, and it just seemed to flourish, but now it`s lost most of its leaves some are floppy and drooping and I know they're going to die.. I don`t know whether it needs re-potting; its in a big pot at the moment, but not one of those with the holes in the bottom. I've moved my plant in the kitchen next to a window, where it has light but also the kitchen isn't that warm when I'm not cooking and the dryer leaves the kitchen humid, Please can you give me some advice on my plant or is it too late?  

A: Try putting it back in the living room where it was happier and make sure there are drainage holes in the pot.. Take care not to overwater the plant, keeping it dry rather than wet during the winter months.. We had an exceptionally hot and dry summer and now the weather is cold, dark and damp, it is hardly surprising our houseplants suffer..



Q: Charlie wants to know: Can you advise me on how to look after my bougainvillea during the winter months and what pruning does it require? It is in a ten inch pot, should I pot it on?

A:  I was given a Bougainvillea once and it died on me, so I thought in this instance I would not try to advise you on their care!  Instead I have found a website that would help,  It's a  specialist Bougainvillea site, so it should help you.

Previous editions of your gardening queries: 

Edition 1

Edition 2

Edition 3

Edition 4

Edition 5

Edition 6

Edition 7

Edition 8

Edition 9 


Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife.

Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary..  


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