Sunday, January 29, 2017

Yucca… funky name, fabulous flower!

Yucca is a distinctive drought-tolerant plant with a dramatic whitish bloom that towers above its sword-like foliage.  Yucca filamentosa  (common names:  yucca or Adam’s Needle) can be included in your garden in Southeastern Wisconsin; choose a special place for it… a space where nothing else grows… a place that gets intense heat in full sun… a space with gravelly, sandy soil.   Your yucca will thrive there and should bloom in July/August. 

Yucca belongs to the family Asparagaceae and is native to the southeastern USA.  Yet it is often found in the southwestern USA as well, since some species have adapted to coastal sandy areas, grasslands and prairies.  In the southwest, you may encounter blooms from late January through March, depending on conditions in each locale. 

When traveling in the southwest, I encountered a yucca bloom emerging in a coastal, sandy wildlife area— just one plant in the vicinity, just one bloom.  In the southwest yucca also is utilized as a landscape planting, and provides a dramatic panicle bloom on a stem which can exceed height of seven feet!

Yucca plants require little pruning; simply cut back the tall stem after bloom has faded; once again, the “prune after bloom” recommendation applies.   Plants need little water once established.   These plants often store water within their root systems, which can be several feet below soil level.   

* TIP:  be sure to choose wisely when selecting a site to plant yucca. Some gardeners try to move/remove yucca but the root system is tenacious!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
 A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture