Using Yucca Plants in the Landscape

Various Yucca species

All types of Yucca plants are attention-getters in the landscape.

A single specimen of 1 of the trunk-forming varieties known as Yucca palms, constitutes an imposing, architectural accent while the spiky leaves of the ground-hugging filamentosa types draw the eye to any area in which they are massed.

Tall yucca plant at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Florida.Yuccas are deer resistant plants native to the southwestern U.S. They thrive in full sun and fast draining soil.

Most varieties can withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.

Some varieties of yucca grow as tall as 10 feet with sword shaped leaves more than 2 feet long.

Consider the ultimate size of the variety you are planting when siting the plants. Be sure to give them plenty of space.

A tall yucca cane plant will look most striking when planted singly and used as a focal point.

Be careful of planting too many large or colorful plants around it and detracting from the yucca plant. The sharp leaves are best kept away from walkways.

Yucca plant in a front yard landscape in Daytona Beach.

The cane-forming varieties are especially complementary to Spanish style architecture.

Yucca cane plant in a landscape.

Like the plant in the image above, this specimen is set off to the side.

Yucca underplanted with Boston fern.

Yucca underplanted with Boston ferns.

Yucca cane plants look best with their feet covered.

Yucca cane plant sharing close quarters with an asparagus fern.Yucca cane plant sharing close quarters with an asparagus fern in Savannah, GA.

Yucca Cane – Yucca Stalk

Yucca plant in bloom.

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In mid to late summer each flowering yucca cane will send up a stalk about a foot or so long covered in white bell-shaped blooms. Yucca flowers best in full sun.

Yucca Propagation

Yuccas have extensive root systems. New plants can sprout from these roots some distance away from the “mother”. You can dig these up and pot them if you wish to increase your stock.

Yucca seed can also be harvested from the edible yucca fruit which form after the flowers fall (wait until the berries turn brown and dry) and used.

Yucca seeds should be planted shallowly and left in a cool (60-70 degrees F.), dim place until they sprout. Only 1 leaf will emerge. This is normal for yucca seeds. Move the seedlings into good light to grow them on.

The flat, black seeds are easy to handle as are the resulting Yucca seedlings.

 Plant Species

Blue Yucca – Yucca rigida

Blue Yucca, also called palmilla, is a beautiful Yucca palm with striking blue-gray leaves complemented by creamy yellow flower clusters when it blooms.

Its branching canes grow to 15 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

Yucca rigida is hardy in USDA zones 8-10 and it can survive a Phoenix, AZ winter.

Yucca rostrata is another beautiful blue yucca. Its common name is Blue Beaked Yucca and it is one of the most cold hardy of the species. Beaked Yucca can be found growing as far north as zone 5 in New York.

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Mojave Yucca – Yucca schidigera

Spanish Dagger in Blossom Below Crown Mountain, Chihuahuan Desert, Big Bend National Park, Texas
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Growing to 15 feet or more in height, Mojave Yucca is a Yucca tree. To give you an idea of how sharp the tips of the blue or yellow-green leaves are, let me tell you that one of its common names is Spanish Dagger.

Plant it well away from foot traffic.

The heavy canes of this Yucca cactus will be 6-12 inches around when the plant matures. The flowers of this species are white with a purple tinge.

Yucca schidigera is native to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of California, Nevada, and Arizona.

It hybridizes freely with Yucca baccata to which it is closely related and which inhabits the same range.

Yucca baccata – Banana Yucca

Banana Yucca is so called because of the shape of its fruit which can be baked and eaten like a sweet potato. It is also called datil Yucca because of the plant’s resemblance to an agave.

It differs from Mojave Yucca in that its leaves are more glaucous (bluer) and it has a shorter trunk. Some specimens are trunkless.

The off-white and purple flowers appear from April to July.

Yucca baccata grows to 5 feet or so in full sun and dry soil.

Yucca glauca

The gray-green leaves of this yucca plant form 2 foot mounds across the arid southwestern U.S. It requires sandy soil and a dry climate in order to bloom.

Upright yucca flower stalks shoot from the plant’s crown in early summer. Each bears up to 15 fragrant, greenish white flowers.

After blooming, the crown of the plant will die. It lives on through the off-sets it produces prior to kicking the bucket.

Yucca rupicola – Twisted-leaf Yucca

Detail of the Curlings on the Edges of the Leaves of the Yucca Plant, Big Bend National Park, U.S.A
Detail of the Curlings on the Edges of the Leaves of the Yucca Plant, Big Bend National Park, U.S.A

Photographic Print
Newman, Mark
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The leaves of Yucca rupicola are different from most other yucca leaves. They are 2 inches wide, dark green, strap shaped and form rosettes less than 2 feet tall.

They feature white or red edges and curly white hairs (yucca fiber).

The leaves of young plants are flat but they twist with age. Likewise, young twisted-leaf yucca plants form a single rosette. Over the years, a clump will form.

This is a cold hardy Texas native which will grow in sun or shade.

Yucca pallida

Texas native Yucca pallida is sometimes called pale Yucca because of its blue or gray-green leaves which form a rosette a foot or 2 tall.

White flowers appear in mid summer and are held on upright stalks a few inches above the leaf tips.

Pale-leaf Yucca will tolerate sun or shade.

Yucca brevifolia

Crescent Moon and Joshua Tree
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Joshua tree Yucca possesses a rugged beauty all its own. This species is native to the Mohave dessert and has very specific cultural requirements.

Growing Joshua trees in the home landscape will only be easy for gardeners who live in arid climates between zones 7 and 10.

Yucca carnerosana
syn. Yucca faxoniana

Yucca carnerosana is a 12 foot tall by 6 foot wide yucca plant native to Texas and Mexico. It will grow in sun or part shade in zones 8a-11.

Despite this, gardeners all over Denver, CO (zone 6) are growing it successfully.

The large white flower clusters are tinged a pretty shade of pink when the plant blooms in mid to late spring.

Buy Yucca Plants

Sapphire Skies YuccaSapphire Skies YuccaA stunning, blue-leaved selection with showy spikes of ivory flowers borne on mature plants.

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