Yucca plants can be a very beautiful addition to most any home or lawn. For me, the lovely blossoms on tall stalks are the main attraction. It is most definitely a desert looking plant, but that is somewhat deceptive. There are dozens of species that grow in desert and tropical regions all the way north into Canada. Only about 8 to 10 states, in the far Northwest and far Northeast are not prime growing conditions for yucca plants. Here there are no native yucca, since the ground is too wet for yuccas to survive.
Yucca are evergreen perennials shrubs with leaves that are sword-like. While some in the yucca family include large desert trees, most home gardens or lawns will most likely be interested in the truckless perennial with long, filamentous leaves. These make better container plants and take up much less space than the bulkier yuccas.
Yucca Stalks and Blossoms
The tall stalks (on some varieties) can reach over 20 feet in the air and can be loaded with white blossoms. Others have shorter stalks. I prefer the shorter stalked varieties since the taller stalks can get lost in tree canopy.
I have seen this personally in south Texas where yuccas are often growing at the base of trees. The stalks reach so far that the blossoms are lost among the tree leaves.
The stalks of some of the bulkier yuccas are short and wide with dozens of compacted flowers. They are quite pretty and should be considered if you have the space for them.
In southeast Texas, where my mom lives, yucca plants are so common they are considered a nuisance plant. But what a beautiful nuisance they are. They spread so rapidly that within a few years they can cover over any open spaces. This variety even grows well in heavy shade.
These are tough plants. In places where they grow in abundance and need to be thinned, you will find the fiberous leaves are hard to cut with a string trimmer and must be mowed down to keep them under control. The leaves tend to shred and do not cut easily.
Most locations find they are pretty much free from any disease or insect problems, except during very wet years.
Here in Missouri, one would not think that yucca could grow here. Afterall, this is the land of hardwood forests, moderate rainfall, crystal clear rivers, and hill country. However, native yuccas help newcomers from western states feel more at home.
One of the most common planted varieties is Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa). This is the yucca plant most people think of. It is a trunkless variety with long leaves and a tall stalk with white blossoms.
For a larger, thicker trunked plant, try Spanish Bayonet. This is not an exclusive variety, since many varieties use this name. However, they describe a similar shaped plant. Spanish Bayonets produce short wide stalks loaded with blossoms. The leaves on this plant can actually draw blood if you bump into it with bare legs, so plant away from the sidewalks and other traffic.
Yucca Plant Facts
Origin: Yucca plants are a product of North and South America. In other countries yuccas have been introduced. In their native lands, each variety is accustomed to that location's specific conditions. Some only grow in high altitudes and others grow in desert or tropical locations. However, many species can do well in other areas as long as the ground is not soggy.
Exposure: Most grow in full sun, however, some varieties will do well in shaded areas.
Bloom: Most are white blossoms that grow on stalks. Some can be purple or white with tinges of purple.
Yucca are not self-pollinators. The yucca moth is necessary for
pollination and is the exclusive pollinators for most yucca plants.
Stems and Foliage: Most are low growing trunkless shrubs. However, some desert plants are trees to 30 ft. tall. Intermediate heights for other varieties can have short trunks from a foot to several ft. in height.
Drought Tolerance: Yuccas are very drought tolerant. In fact, most cannot take prolonged wet soil. Diseases can result in those situations.
Soil: Well drained soils.
Container Planting: Most will do well in well-drained containers.
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