YUCCA

FAMILY: Asparagaceae | GENUS: Yucca

TYPE
  • Evergreen
  • Perennials
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Varies by Species

Plant Details

Yuccas grow over much of North America; hardiness depends on species. All have tough, sword- shaped leaves and large clusters of white or whitish, rounded to bell-shaped flowers. Some are stemless, while others reach tree size. Best in well-drained soil.

Taller kinds make striking silhouettes, and even stemless species provide important vertical effects when in bloom. Some have stiff, sharp-pointed leaves; keep these away from walks, terraces, and other well-traveled areas. Yuccas are not usually browsed by deer.

Young plants of some species can be used as indoor plants; they withstand the dry indoor atmosphere and will grow well near hot, sunny windows. Give moderate water; feed monthly during growth with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Buy 1-gallon size or smaller; set out in ground when plants become too large for indoors. Successful indoors are Yucca aloifolia (but beware of sharp-pointed leaves), Yucca elephantipes, Yucca filamentosa, Yucca gloriosa, and Yucca recurvifolia.

spanish bayonet, spanish dagger

yucca aloifolia

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Native to the South.
  • Slow growth to 10 feet by 5 feet or larger; trunk may be single or branched, sometimes sprawling in picturesque effect.
  • Stems densely clothed in dark green, sharp-pointed leaves to 212 feet long and 2 inches wide.
  • White flowers (sometimes tinged purple) to 4 inches across, in dense, erect clusters to 2 feet tall in summer.
  • Moderate water.
  • Variegata has green foliage edged in yellowish white.

banana yucca

yucca baccata

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to the Southwest.
  • Slow growth to 3 feet high, 5 feet wide.
  • Foliage clump may have no stem or a short, prostrate one.
  • Thick, stiff leaves to 2 feet long, 2 inches wide have fibers along the edges.
  • Large, fleshy flowers in late spring are red-brown outside, white inside, in dense, 2 feet-long clusters.
  • Fleshy, edible, bananalike fruit to 6 inches long.
  • Little water.
  • Compactum is somewhat smaller than the species.

soaptree yucca

yucca elata

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to the Southwest, northern Mexico.
  • Slow growth to 620 feet tall, 810 feet wide, with single or branched trunk.
  • Leaves to 4 feet long, 12 inches wide.
  • Tall spikes of white flowers in summer.
  • Little water.

GIANT YUCCA

yucca elephantipes(Yucca gigantea)

  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
  • Native to Mexico.
  • Fast growing (to 2 feet per year), eventually 1530 feet tall, 8 feet wide, usually with several trunks.
  • Leaves 4 feet long, 3 inches wide, dark rich green.
  • Striking silhouette alone or combined with other big-scale foliage plants; out of scale in smaller gardens.
  • Large spikes of creamy white flowers in spring.
  • Does best in good, well-drained soil with regular water.
  • A variegated form has pale green leaves with broad cream-colored stripes.

adam's needle

yucca filamentosa

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to the Southeast.
  • Stemless plant to 212 feet tall, 5 feet wide.
  • Stiff, dark green leaves 212 feet long, 1 inches wide, with long, loose fibers at edges.
  • Blooms in late spring and summer, with lightly fragrant, yellowish white flowers, 23 inches wide, carried in tall, narrow clusters to 47 feet or taller.
  • Looks similar to Yucca flaccida and Yucca smalliana.
  • One of the most cold hardy and widely planted yuccas.
  • Moderate water.
  • Bright Edge has leaves edged in yellow; 'Color Guard' and 'Garland's Gold' have creamy gold leaves widely edged in green.
  • Variegata has green leaves edged with white.

yucca flaccida

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to the Southeast.
  • Stemless.
  • Differs from Yucca filamentosa in having less rigid leaves, straight fibers on leaf edges, and somewhat shorter flower clusters.
  • Moderate water.
  • Golden Sword has yellow leaves edged in dark green.
  • Ivory has out-facing rather than drooping flowers.

soapweed

yucca glauca

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native to central and southwestern U.S. To 34 feet high and wide or larger, with short or prostrate trunk.
  • Stiff, narrow, 1- to 212 feet-long leaves form a clump 34 feet wide.
  • Leaves are grayish green, edged with a hairline of white and a few thin threads.
  • White summer flowers bloom on a spike 45 feet tall.
  • Moderate water.

mound-lily yucca, spanish dagger, soft-tip yucca

yucca gloriosa

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Native to the Southeast.
  • Much like Yucca aloifolia; generally multitrunked to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
  • Plant is usually stemless in youth.
  • Leaf points are soft and will not penetrate skin.
  • Summer bloom.
  • Good green color blends well with tropical-looking, lush plants.
  • Needs moderate water; too much moisture may produce black areas on leaf margins.
  • Leaves of 'Variegata' are edged in creamy white.
  • Bright Star is a slow-growing dwarf form (to 2 feet tall, 5 feet wide) with broad margins of golden yellow.

pale-leaf yucca

yucca pallida

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Native to Texas.
  • To 112 feet tall, 212 feet wide.
  • Compact rosette of 1- to 2 feet-long, pale blue-green leaves with thin yellow or brownish margins and a spine at the tip.
  • Branched spikes to 7 feet high hold many pale green to creamy white flowers in spring.
  • Little to moderate water.

curve-leaf yucca, soft-leaf yucca

yucca recurvifolia

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Native to the Southeast.
  • The botanical name of this plant is a bit of a moving target: You may find it listed as above or as Yucca gloriosa recurvifolia, Yucca g.
  • tristis, or Yucca pendula.
  • Whatever its name, it forms a single trunk to 610 feet tall; it is unbranched in younger plants but may be lightly branched in age.
  • Reaches 68 feet wide; spreads by offsets to form large groups.
  • Beautiful blue-gray leaves are 23 feet long, 2 inches wide, sharply bent downward; leaf tips are spined but bend to the touch (they aren't dangerously sharp).
  • Less stiff and metallic looking than most yuccas.
  • Loose, open, 3- to 5 feet-tall clusters of large white flowers in late spring or early summer.
  • Easy to grow in all garden conditions; give moderate water.
  • Banana Split has golden yellow leaves edged in gray-green.

blue beard yucca

yucca rostrata

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to Mexico, extreme southwestern Texas.
  • To 12 feet tall, 9 feet wide.
  • The most notable feature is the trunk: up to 8 inches thick, covered with soft gray fuzz (fibers remaining from old leaf bases).
  • Needle-pointed blue- green leaves to 2 feet long, 12 inches wide.
  • Blooms in autumn, bearing 2 feet clusters of white flowers on a 2 feet stalk.
  • Little to moderate water.
  • Sapphire Skies has narrow, flexible, powder-blue leaves; just 4 feet tall after 10 years.

twisted-leaf yucca

yucca rupicola

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Clump-forming Texas native to 3 feet high and wide.
  • Sharp-pointed, green leaves reach 2 feet long; they are straight when young, then twist with age.
  • In spring, stalks to 38 feet tall bear bell-shaped, creamy white flowers with a yellow-green tinge.
  • Little to moderate water.

yucca smalliana(Yucca filamentosa smalliana)

  • ADAM'S NEEDLE, BEAR'S GRASS.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to southeastern and south-central U.S. Like Yucca filamentosa but has narrower, flatter leaves and smaller flowers.
  • Moderate water.

thompson's yucca

yucca thompsoniana

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to Texas.
  • Tree to 610 feet tall, 5 feet wide.
  • Trunk (sometimes branched) is topped with an asymmetrical rosette of narrow, foot-long blue-green leaves; old brown leaves hang from its sides.
  • Blooms in late spring, when white to cream flowers with green-tinged petal bases appear on a 4- to 5 feet spike.
  • Moderate water.

torrey yucca

yucca torreyi

  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native from New Mexico and Texas into Mexico.
  • Eventually forms a tree to 15 feet tall, 9 feet wide.
  • Begins as a rosette of rigid, sharp-tipped, blue-green leaves on short trunks that slowly elongate.
  • White flowers are borne in late spring on a 4 feet spike.
  • Needs very little water but tolerates wetter conditions.

giant spanish dagger

yucca treculeana

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Native to Texas and Mexico.
  • Single-trunked or branching tree to 25 feet tall, 12 feet wide, topped with symmetrical rosettes of sharp-pointed, thick, stiff, dark green to blue-green leaves to 2124 feet long.
  • White or purple-tinged white flowers bloom on a 3 feet spike in late winter or early spring.
  • Little to moderate water.

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