Dasylirion Acrotrichum: Growing The Desert Spoon Plant

Dasylirion acrotrichum, [das-il-LIR-ee-on] [ak-roh-TRY-kee], comes from the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico and the grass-like leaves can reach up to 40″ inches.

The spiky plant has several common names, including:

  • Bear grass
  • Great desert spoon
  • Green sotol
  • Spoon yucca

miulti head Bear grass growing outdoors.

Dasylirion acrotrichum belongs to the Asparagaceae family, mostly known for the asparagus plant.

The plant shares a resemblance with types of agave plants and Sago palms.

It features a thick tree-like tub topped with the grassy foliage.

Due to the large size, people often find it difficult to care for this plant, but with the right tips, it should thrive indoors or outdoors.

Dasylirion Acrotrichum Care

Size and Growth

Beargrass is a slow grower but can reach heights of five feet when grown outdoors.

It features a thick, short stem that produces a rosette of long, thin leaves.

The stiff leaves fan out in all directions and may reach up to three feet.

They have very sharp pointed edges that can cut when handled carelessly.

Flowering and Fragrance

When grown outdoors, the plant may produce a 15’ foot tall inflorescence consisting of many tiny white flowers.

Unfortunately, it rarely blooms when grown in a pot.

Light and Temperature

Beargrass can grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11 and thrive in full sun.

In the summer, the plant prefers warm, sunny weather. In the winter, it requires cooler temperatures.

The plant should stay at temperatures between 32° and 40° degrees Fahrenheit throughout the winter months.

This presents a challenge for many growers.

One option is to place the plant in an unheated part of the house, such as a hallway.

If the plant gets too warm during the winter, it becomes more susceptible to infestations from pests during the spring.

Sunlight isn’t a major concern. The plant only needs a sunny location near a window.

Watering and Feeding

The plant doesn’t need frequent watering. During the summer, keep the soil on the dry side.

In the winter, only water sparingly to keep the plant from completely drying out.

Use liquid plant food fertilizer every two weeks during the active growing season.

During the winter, stop fertilizing.

Avoid over-fertilizing as this causes white salts to appear on the soil.

Always dilute the liquid fertilizer, using about one-quarter the standard dose.

Soil and Transplanting

Grow the plant in standard potting soil combined with 25% pumice.

It also grows well in a usual commercial cactus mix.

Repot the plant every few years with fresh soil.

The spiky leaves make transplanting difficult.

Before trying to remove the plant, carefully tie the leaves together in a bundle using a length of twine.

This same method is also useful when trying to move the plant indoors for the winter.

Grooming and Maintenance

As the plant grows, the lower leaves may fade and die but don’t always fall.

Trim or remove the dead leaves as needed.

Dasylirion 'desert spoon' acrotrichum Published 1861
Dasylirion ‘desert spoon’ acrotrichum Published 1861

How To Propagate Bear Grass

Due to the way that bear grass grows, it’s difficult to propagate from cuttings or division.

It’s also difficult to harvest the seed when the plant doesn’t flower often.

The best solution is to grow from store-bought seed.

  • Sow the seeds in the early spring.
  • Use rich soil combined with pumice, scattering the seeds on top.
  • Cover with a light layer of soil.
  • Water the soil and then cover with a plastic or glass cover, ensuring the seeds have ventilation.
  • The seeds will sprout in several weeks.
  • Allow the seedlings to continue growing, waiting until new growth appears before removing the cover.

NOTE: Seeds will germinate better when placed on a seed warming mat.

Dasylirion Beargrass Pests or Diseases

Dasylirion Acrotrichum is a hardy plant but occasionally suffers from various plant diseases and pest infestations.

If spider mites appear, take the plant outdoors and hose it down.

Wiping the leaves with a sponge may also work. For severe infestations, apply a miticide.

White spots may appear on the plant when misting with hard tap water.

The spots may come off with a wet sponge.

Just use caution to avoid getting poked by the sharp leaves.

The tips of the leaves may turn brown when they get damaged.

If someone rubs against the leaves, the damage causes the tips to dry and turn brown.

There is no way to repair the damage other than trimming the leaves.

The plant isn’t toxic but the leaves are incredibly sharp.

Kids and pets may hurt themselves if left unattended.

Ideas For Using Green Desert Spoon Dasylirion

Beargrass often needs relocating throughout the year.

To make transporting the plant easier, plant in a tub or container.

Set it in a living room, porch, or balcony where it has plenty of space for the long leaves to stick out.

Just remember to set it somewhere out of the way of kids and pets.