Corn Plant vs. Yucca

Written by Kathryn Koehler
Updated: December 2, 2022
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In the case of corn plant vs. Yucca, the jury has reached a verdict: Both corn plants and Yucca are guilty of being fabulous. Whether they are growing as houseplants, adding a pop of color to an interior landscape, or growing outdoors in nature, these two plants are adored around the world.

Corn plants and Yucca often suffer from cases of mistaken identity. Both are popular houseplants with similar leaf structures, but they are not closely related, botanically speaking.

Read on to learn how to differentiate these plants, their growing habits, and how folks around the globe use these aesthetically pleasing plants!

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Corn Plant vs. Yucca: Comparison

Corn PlantYucca
Genus Dracaena Yucca
Origin Tropical AfricaNorth America, South America, and the Caribbean
DescriptionSlow-growing shrub with glossy green lance-like leaves; flowers in the wild, but unpredictable as a houseplant; mature plants reach heights of 40 feet or moreSlow-growing plant with tough, sword-shaped shiny green leaves; outdoor plants produce white flowers in spring; houseplants are unpredictable flowerer; generally 2-4 feet tall, with some species reaching 30 feet
Growing ZonesUSDA Hardiness Zones 5-11; also grown as a houseplantUSDA Hardiness Zones 11-12; also grown as a houseplant
Toxicity Yes, to small animals Yes, to small animals

Description / Growing Conditions:

Because corn plants and Yucca look very similar, they are often mistaken for each other. However, these two attractive plants have little in common.

Corn Plant: Outdoors

The corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) is native to tropical regions of Africa. As a tropical plant, it requires warmer temperatures, ideally between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. When corn plants are subjected to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit their leaves will curl and wither; these plants are not frost tolerant, and once the mercury dips below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), corn plants die. Fortunately, corn plants make wonderful houseplants.

Dracaena fragrans, growing outdoors. The planer is slight ly left od center, and towering over all of the other plant and draws growing around it. It is a slender, uneven plat. very green against a mostly vivid blue sky, with a couple of white clouds, lower left frame.

The corn plant is native to tropical regions of Africa.

©Sarida Bernadetha Munthe/

Simply because corn plants are not well-suited for growing outdoors in many places, doesn’t mean we have to forego their loveliness. A potted corn plant can add beauty and color to indoor spaces, too.

Corn Plant: Indoors

The corn plant is a tropical evergreen that has been a popular houseplant for nearly two hundred years. Introduced to Europe in the mid-19th century, and to the U.S. in the early 20th century, the corn plant is a beloved indoor plant revered for its striking foliage of long, slender, lance-shaped glossy green leaves, its thick, woody stalk, and its fragrant flowers. Dracaena fragrans is called a corn plant because its leaves were thought to resemble those of the corn (on the cob) plant, maize (Zea mays).

Dracaena fragrans, AKA corn plant, in a cylindrical white pot. The pot is on a dark brown wooden side table. The plant has one thick woody stalk, topped with showy, long, bright green lance-shaped leaves, against white isolate.

The corn plant is a beloved indoor plant revered

for its striking foliage of long, slender, lance-shaped glossy green leaves, its thick, woody stalk.


This corn plant does not grow corn, but it does produce captivating, sweetly scented white flowers. Clusters of fragrant white flowers appear on these indoor plants in late fall to early winter. The flowers open in the evening, revealing their sweet scent. Both the flowers and their scent are reminiscent of jasmine (Jasminum). The highly scented blooms last about a week before withering.

Cluster of white flowers  of dracaena fragans. The flowers are white, star-shaped, and appear in clusters. the largest clusters are in right center frame with other clusters behind them. Three green leaves are visible in the lower left frame. Background is indistinct.

The flowers open in the evening, revealing their sweet scent.

©sommai damrongpanich/

Corn plants are easy to care for where their foliage is concerned, but are somewhat unpredictable regarding their flowering. Upright and slender, corn plants grow well in bright rooms with indirect sunlight that are free from drafts. Corner spaces are ideal. Corn plants are drought tolerant in nature, so allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Though corn plants thrive in dry soil, they will not grow well in dry air. Humidity is a must for these indoor plants. Adding a humidifier to the plant’s space, and/or regularly misting it with water will keep it happy. Brown leaves are a sign of under-watering, while yellow leaves signal too much.

Corn plants are slow growing, and though mature plants can reach heights of 40 feet or more in nature, indoor plants will top out at approximately 6 feet, and then only after many years.


The Yucca (Yucca) though similar in appearance to Dracaena fragrans, is a highly adaptable, cold hardy plant, with some varieties tolerating temperatures as low as minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit!

Yucca, a genus containing 40 or more species, is native to North America, South America, and the Caribbean. Their range in North America extends from Baja California, Mexico to Alberta, Canada.

Grown in nature as perennial shrubs or trees, Yuccas have long, tough, sword-like, shiny green leaves. Like swords, they develop sharp, dry thorn-like points on their leaf tips as they age. This is one of the easiest ways of determining whether a plant is a corn plant or a Yucca. Corn plants’ leaf tips will not feel prickly to the touch, no matter how old they are!

Full frame close up of yucca plant leaf tips. About a dozen brown, dry tip, and one super dry gray one, lower left frame, visible on the tip of Long  sword-shaped, lime green to yellowish leaves. They look like they would hurt.

Yuccas have long, tough, sword-like, shiny green leaves that develop sharp, dry thorn-like points on their leaf tips as they age.


Yuccas flower in the spring on a single, upright stem that emerges from the center of the plant. These stems can be 3 feet tall. Downward-facing tulip-shaped white six-petaled flowers line the length of the stem. Individual flower petals can be up to 2 inches long. Though not as fragrant as corn plants, Yucca’s flowers are lightly scented. It is this scent that attracts the Yucca’s sole pollinator, the Yucca moth. Yuccas also host the caterpillars that become Yucca giant-skippers (Megathymus yuccae), butterflies native to the Southern United States.

Yucca plant in flower. The tall,eract flower stalk is frame right . The. white flowers are downward facing and tulop=shaped. They are a lot of flowers on the stalk. The stalk is emerging from the center of a rosette of long, slender green leaves. Back ground consists of another Yucca in Flower.

DYucca plants have downward-facing tulip-shaped white six-petaled flowers line the length of the stem. Individual flower petals can be up to 2 inches long.

©Sean Pavone/

Corn Plant vs. Yucca: Uses

Though both corn plants and Yucca are primarily thought of as ornamental houseplants, they are so much more than pretty plants designed for your viewing pleasure.

Yucca: Traditional Uses

The original inhabitants of North America utilized the tough, fibrous leaves of the Yucca plant to make rope. They would strip the leaves, peeling away layer after layer, rolling and twisting them together. The rope held objects together or in place. Sandals were also fashioned from this rope, which is similar to sisal. Indigenous people also made soap from Yucca’s roots, which create a lather when mixed with water.

Center frame: Avery simple pair of rope and wooden sandals against a wooden background. The sandals resemble ancient flip-flops, with a loop of string attached to the wooden sole at the top for the toes to grasp, with one upside down V shape of rope attached at the heel end of the wooden sole on theft and the right. All natural colors.

The sandals fashioned out of Yucca rope might have looked similar to the ones pictured above.

©Noppakit 77/

Yucca: Modern Uses

Presently, Yucca plant extracts are ingredients in shampoo and hair-restoring agents. if the Yucca extracts don’t exactly regenerate hair growth, at least they can stop hair loss. Several products tout this property, some with more extraordinary claims than others, so as with any purchase, do your research before investing in Yucca shampoo.

Corn Plant vs. Yucca: Health benefits

However, the most amazing use of these plants is as air purifiers. Both corn plants and Yucca remove all sorts of dangerous elements from the air we breathe, replacing them with pure, clean oxygen.

It’s true! NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), in partnership with the ALCA (Associated Landscape Contractors of America), studied the effects of different plants on air quality in enclosed environments, like those enormous multi-storied office buildings of the mid-to-late 20th century.

A cityscape with three 8-10  story buildings frame left to center frame. France right has greenery. theirs is paved brick pomade/ walkway separating the buildings from the grass and trees.

Corn plamts and Yucca temove dangerous chemicals from the air we breathe.


What they discovered is nothing short of amazing! Both of these plants are capable of removing dangerous chemicals from the air that we breathe. Although it seems a bit counterintuitive, human beings in developed countries are exposed to more dangerous pollutants indoors than out. Corn plants and Yucca, among a number of other ornamental plants, are topnotch at removing toluene, xylene, formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, and even lead from indoor spaces. These noxious chemicals can adversely affect the health of those who are consistently in buildings with poor air quality that contains them, the top three being high-rise office buildings, shopping malls, and school classrooms. Headaches, respiratory illnesses, and even more serious illnesses like cancer are related to prolonged exposure to these chemicals.

Corn plants and Yucca grown outdoors have similar effects on air quality, and water quality. Planted near farms and ranches, these plants (among others) can remove methane from the air, and ammonia from groundwater, both byproducts of animal husbandry.

What’s not to love about these two plants that are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also keep us healthy by cleaning the air that we breathe? The next time you find yourself in a high-rise or a shopping mall, be on the lookout for corn plants or Yucca, as you’re likely to see one or the other, if not both!

Yucca: Medicinal Uses

As if these plants haven’t already proven themselves fabulous enough, Yucca has one more surprise: The roots of several Yucca species are used in medicines that treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, arthritis, migraine headaches, diabetes, and others.

Frame left, a brown skinned man with  close-cropped grey hair and a gray van dyke, which is a mustache and chin whiskers . The man is seated a neutral colored textile covered  love seat - possibly a sofa. An end pillow, that matched the sofa is visible.. There is a white table in the foreground on which sits a blood pressure monitor. The man, who is wearing a button front collared khaki colored shirt, has a  black fabric /velcro blood pressure cuff wrapped around his left arm. His right hand is holding the pump that makes the cuff tight. The man is checking his blood pressure. A rust-colored drape panel is visible ibehind the man, otherwise white, indistinct background.

Yucca is an ingredient in medicines that treat high blood pressure.


So, whether you’re looking for an ornamental plant to spruce up your home, or a plant that can clear the air, look no further, as these two amazing plants can do both!

Of Note: Saponin, the organic compound found in Corn Plants and Yucca that is responsible for cleaning the air, is toxic to small animals, including cats and dogs. If you have pets, you might wish to reconsider bringing either of these plants, lovely as they are, home.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © ZayacSK/

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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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