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Can They Be Saved?!

Hi guys,

I know nothing about gardening and have no idea what this shrub is called so I'm struggling to find help.  We moved into the house a year ago and I just assumed these sort of things would look after themselves so I've just left them alone.  However they've both started to develop brown spots & seem to be dying.

They looked fine when we moved in and I know they've been here a few years so I doubt it's anything to do with placement.  I first noticed some issues a few months ago but as that was winter I just assumed they would perk up in the spring, however they've just been getting worse!

What's wrong with them?  Have they been infected?  Is something eating them?

What do I do?  Can they be saved?

Please help someone who knows nothing!

Thanks :smile:


  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,945
    Welcome  to the forum :)
    I think they might be some type of variagated phormium. I wonder if they're under stress as they look quite overcrowded. There is a type of rust that attacks phormiums,  possibly that's what's happened but l am not sure l'm afraid 
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,274
    If the spikes on the end of the leaves are vicious, its a yucca.  New growth in the centre looks OK. You can remove the older outer leaves of each rosette, cutting hard back with secateurs, and it will leave a trunk. Make sure you have plenty of protection on like gauntlets.
  • tiff272tiff272 Posts: 8
    This is all great thank you, very informative.  After Googling all your possible plant types to look a pictures, I agree that it's a Yucca.  It genuinely nearly blinded me once, if my eye had been open I honestly think I would have lost it.  I had quite a large bruise and cut on my eyelid for a week or so - but lots of relief that I still had my eye!  I'm not ashamed to say I now have a fear of going near them.

    The fact that it has a trunk would explain a lot, especially as the back one seems to start a bit higher off the ground than the other and is quite bare at the bottom.  I guess I never looked close enough!  It never remotely crossed my mind that it might be more of a tree than a shrub.  You certainly can't just pull the leaves off as I've tried that and even the dead looking ones are still very much attached.  It sounds like I'm going to need to go out there in full body armour and chop them off.

    There's also the high chance they are running out of space but I was hoping to get another couple of years out of them before having to think about complete removal.  Husband wants rid completely but I like having at least a bit of greenery!

    Thanks again everyone for your help!  I'm feeling hopeful I can get them looking good again :smile:
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053
    I'm with your husband on this. I doubt if they will ever get good looking. Cutting off the lower spotted leaves will leave you rings of dead/decaying bits of leaf next to the stem which you will not get in to to cut off. I would bite the bullet and get some manly men to hoik them out - even if only on H&S grounds!
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,121
    With the help of good safety-goggles , an armoured suit and heavy reinforced gauntlets , it is possible to strip the old leaves from Yuccas by giving them a sharp pull downwards .
    Looking at those two , I heartily agree with hogweed , more work than they're worth .......pull 'em out !

  • tiff272tiff272 Posts: 8

    Well I attacked one this morning.  Now that I know they have a trunk and are a bit palm like there was nothing stopping me!  So a big thank you for correct identification by fidgetbones said:
    If the spikes on the end of the leaves are vicious, its a yucca.
    I love it now, I think it's really nice.  I'm very pleased to say there were no injuries but I was definitely fully suited & booted!  I was able to pull the leaves off so I don't have any weird looking cut bits around the trunk.

    There are a few lower sprouts I might remove and I'm probably going to chop off the small branch that's growing towards the path.  However for now I'm just going to leave it so we can both recover from the ordeal!  Will also get some bark to put around the bottom.

    Garden bin is definitely full so the other will have to wait until that has been emptied!

    Thanks everyone for your help.  I'm so glad to be able to keep them :smile:
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,665
    Glad you were able to save them, although I must say I wouldn't have bothered. Since ending up in A & E twice last year with gardening related eye injuries, I bought a very good pair of protective plastic glasses from Screwfix. They fit better and they are comfortable to wear than the safety goggles I bought from them before and don't steam up either. 
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,945
    That certainly looks much better  :)
    As Lizzie27 says, gardening can be risky on occasion,  so l'm glad you took so much care.
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,121
    Well done tiff272 ; I take back my words ! Well worth the effort with a result like that !
    Imagine the cost of purchasing a specimen of that size .....several hundred pounds probably .
    Wait until you see the flowers !
    PS  the Euonymus at its base doesn't do it justice
  • tiff272tiff272 Posts: 8
    Thank you all :smile:
    Lizzie27 said:
    ending up in A & E twice last year with gardening related eye injuries
    Lizzie I don't blame you not wanting to risk it. You definitely only let it get you in the eye once, that's for sure. I wore quite hefty DIY goggles and even covered my ears as I read about burst ear drums when researching yucca's last night... I hope you didn't get any permanent injuries.

    Paul B3 said:
    Wait until you see the flowers !

    PS  the Euonymus at its base doesn't do it justice
    I had no idea it flowers so I'm glad you said something. I would have wondered what it was doing!

    I had no idea what the green stuff at the bottom was, nor whether it was intentional or a weed haha I think I'll just remove everything and put bark down so it's low maintenance. Pulling leaves off a few times a year is about as much as I can deal with!
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