Yucca glauca pronounced (YUK-ah GLOK-ah), belongs to the Yucca genus (Agavoideae) and family Asparagaceae.
It is a perennial evergreen plant, native to North America.
The plant is found in the rocky and deserted grassland ranges of the Great Plains, extending from the United States Arizona, New Mexico and Texas panhandle to Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada.
Common Names include:
- Small soapweed
- Soapweed yucca
- Great Plains yucca
Soapweed Yucca Glauca Care
Size & Growth
Yucca glauca, also known as soapweed yucca, growing from 3′ to 5′ feet high in USDA hardiness zones 3-10.
This narrow leaf yucca consists of a taproot from which rise small, decumbent branching stems.
This plant supports one or two large rhizomes from which a network of small slanting rhizomes arises, making an underground mat that can spread as far as 24″ inches.
Soapweed yucca has simple, alternate, curved-in pale green leaves with rough fibers running along its margins. Leaves can be as long as 8″ to 40″ inches in length and 0.2″ t0.5″ inches in width.
Flowering & Fragrance
Soapweed yuccas have white, pendulous, bell-shaped flowers about 2.5″ to 2.75″ inches in length, which are composed in clusters of 25 to 30 on a 12″ to 72″ inches long raceme.
At bloom time these flowers can only be pollinated by the yucca moth. In the absence of the moth, the plant needs hand pollinating, using a small paintbrush.
Yucca crowns produce several side shoots that can grow produce flower stalks later.
The crowns are monocarpic and die after flowering. The flower fragrance is particularly acute at night.
Soapweed yucca also produces kiwi-sized oval, woody seed pods of dehiscent fruit which contain flat black winged seeds.
Light and Temperature
Soapweed yucca is a hardy native American yucca plant which can adapt to a wide range of temperatures.
It can survive temperatures up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit in summers and -42 degree Fahrenheit in winters.
The species can grow in bright sunlight, semi-shade or no shade at all.
It can withstand drought conditions very well and can even tolerate strong winds.
However, it does not thrive along coastal areas.
Watering and Feeding
Soapweed yucca has low watering needs, is drought tolerant and can easily survive dry seasons by spreading its roots deep underground to seek sources of water.
In bright outdoor settings, allow the top one-third of the soil to dry before watering.
In low light conditions, allow three-fourths of the soil to dry before watering.
If indoors, lightly sprinkle water to plant surface and place pebbles on top of the soil to prevent quick drying.
Soapweed yuccas prefer hot dry conditions with poor sandy and pebbley soil.
You can nourish your plant three parts coco-coir or peat and one part sand.
Feed indoor plants with a diluted mixture of liquid water-soluble feed in the spring and summer.
Soil & Transplanting
Soapweed yucca can thrive in most type of soils but prefers pebble-y, sandy loam with full sun exposure.
Plants are hardier when grown in soil with poor nutritional qualities.
This perennial plant does not tolerate peaty and chalky soils well.
In addition, the soil needs to be well-drained as overwatering can damage plant root systems.
It is best to pot smaller plants and grow them in light shade for two winters.
Then replant them out in the spring in their permanent year-round location in early summer.
Consider giving them some winter protection for at least their first winter outdoors.
Grooming & Maintenance
Like all desert plants, soapweed yuccas require only minimum maintenance.
Trim away dead leaves and flowers from time to time and wipe the leaves clean with a damp cloth.
If your plant has a lot of yellowing and withering leaves, it probably needs more water.
How to Propagate Soapweed Yucca
Soapweed yucca can propagate through rhizomes and seeds.
Soapweed yucca rhizomes arise from established plants, which spread horizontally in a branching pattern.
Divide these yucca plants by cutting the rhizome. Dip the cut rhizome into dry wood ashes to stop the wound and plant it in a pot filled with sandy soil.
Rhizomes soon produce roots and sprout leaves.
Growing Glauca From Seeds
Pre-soak yucca seeds in warm water to reduce germination time, which can be anywhere between one month to a year.
Place the seeds into small pots, then prick the seedlings out and grow them in a greenhouse until they can grow well by themselves.
In Britain, flowers need hand-pollinating to produce seeds.
Soapweed Yucca Pest or Disease Problem
Soapweed yucca is not susceptible to many diseases though it may occasionally suffer from mealybug infestation and root rot.
Treat these with neem oil. Overwatering plants or allowing excess water to stay in the container can cause root rot.
Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, pets?
Great Plains yucca’s roots contain saponins. Although they are toxic to humans, our bodies cannot absorb them and they pass straight through.
Saponins are quite toxic to aquatic animals and hunting tribes used to dose river water with the substance to stun or kill fish.
Suggested Soapweed Yucca Uses
As the name suggests, soapweed yucca is used to make soaps and shampoos. Its dried leaves can be used to make sandals and woven baskets.
Its fruit can be baked into cakes, dried for later use or eaten immediately. It can be made into a delicious syrup that can replace hot chocolate.
The white inner portion of the stem can also be boiled and roasted and eaten like asparagus.
Being drought tolerant and its ability to handle a wide range of temperatures make the glauca yucca an excellent yucca plant for the landscape and for use as a xeriscape plant.