Have you ever thought of growing yucca outdoors for contrast or accent in your garden?
In the yucca, we have a plant that will stand just about any abuse a person can give it. Yucca plants do exceptionally well without watering and with poor soil conditions.
It is, in fact, a plant that can be easily harmed by too much attention.
Yuccas like well-drained, sandy soils, doing less well in heavy, rich garden loams.
In nature, they are found thriving in dry, undernourished soils. Under cultivation, duplicate these conditions by selecting a dry, sandy soil having ample drainage.
However, if this type of soil is unavailable, yuccas will still tolerate a great range of soils and exposures provided suitable drainage is given.
When growing yuccas it is also unnecessary to feed them with high nitrogen fertilizers. It is best to give them no fertilizer at all.
There are 30 or more species of yuccas and as in most other groups of plants, many more horticultural varieties.
Some of the varieties, such as Yucca flaccida ‘Ivory’ are far superior ornamentally, to the species.
Ivory has long spikes of conspicuous cream-colored bells which stand out at right angles to the stem, instead of hanging down.
Of the 30 odd species, only six are considered hardy in areas of severe frosts.
Of these six, only Yucca filamentosa, or Adam’s Needle as it is commonly known, is hardy enough to withstand the winter conditions encountered in the extreme north.
The other live species are found only in the milder climates of New Mexico north to Nevada and in Florida north to Tennessee. They are:
- Yucca glauca (soapweed)
- Yucca flaccida
- Yucca baccata
- Yucca recurvifolia
- Yucca gloriosa (Spanish dagger)
- Yucca smalliana
For those who are interested in yellow foliage plants, also add Yucca filamentosa variegata. It, like the species, is not only extremely hardy, hut its yellow-edged foliage makes it a striking garden addition.
Easy Yucca Propagation
Yuccas are easily propagated by two methods. The first is division.
This is accomplished by digging up an existing plant and dividing it into separate sections with an axe or sharp spade.
The separated sections are then planted individually.
The second is by rhizome cuttings. Rhizomes are the small offshoots which appear adjacent to a large plant.
They are easily separated from the parent plant with a spade, being sure to take some roots if found with each rhizome.
Once separated, replant the new plants in a soil similar to that in which the original plant was growing.
Following this, they should be watered in thoroughly, but only once because as the new plants become established, they need little water.
Why Not Grow Yucca From Seeds?
When discussing propagation, we did not mention seeds.
Why is it, that in spite of all the yuccas grown, the sight of a seed capsule on a yucca plant is a rare thing?
This is due to the absence of a certain insect, the yucca moth.
In nearly all yuccas, fertilization will not take place unless fresh pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma by a small white moth called Pronuba yuccasella.
Consequently, the propagation of yuccas from seed is impractical if not nearly impossible, except in their natural habitat where the moth abounds.
Yuccas are bold, still-leaved plants, having sword-shaped, pungent, evergreen leaves.
They bear white flowers, or shaded with cream or velvet. The flowers are cup or saucer-shaped, usually pendant, borne on a spike one to three feet tall.
The individual flowers measure two to three inches in diameter.
Of the six previously mentioned species, Yucca glauca is the first to bloom.
Its white flowers, which appear in June, are followed in quick succession by those of Yucca filamentosa, Yucca flaccida, Yucca baccata, Yucca recurvifolia, and Yucca gloriosa.
The last one flowers only at intervals of several years and then so late in August and September that the blooms are sometimes killed by early frost.
Consider yuccas for accent and for beauty in your gardens.
They may not have the charm of roses or peonies, but they grow well without much attention and they will thrive in locations suited to few other plants.