Yuccas: The ‘Ghosts in the Graveyard’

Yuccas are these amazing new world plants with a vast natural range. They grow all the way from Baja, California in the west, to Florida in the east, Canada in the north, and Guatemala in the South.

These beauties have strong, evergreen sword or strap-like leaves, and they produce dramatic spikes of glorious white flowers once a year.

Another more evocative name for them is ‘ghosts in the graveyard.’ This comes for the high number of yuccas growing wild in forgotten graveyards, where their large white flower clusters appear as ‘ghosts’ in the moonlight.

Yuccas are drought tolerant to the extreme. Their heat and cold tolerance is also great. They only require a full to partial sun location and a well-drained soil. April and May are good months to plant them. Some of my favorites:

Big Bend or beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata). Also called sapphire skies, this beauty has a rosette of sword-like leaves of a bluish to silver color. Older specimens will form trunks and add a dramatic accent to any landscape. These are my all-time favorites.

Adam’s Bright Edge (Yucca filamentosa) is a clumping, dwarf yucca with narrow variegated foliage with yellow edged foliage. Its mature height is 2 feet with a white flower stalk to 5 feet.

Color Guard (Yucca filamentosa) is a dwarf yucca with each leaf centered with yellow-gold foliage. Color guard will stay under 2 feet in height and will spread to 3 feet in width. It produces a dramatic 5-foot tall white flower spike.

Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) has evergreen, grassy-like foliage to 2 feet with coral-red flower spikes to 6 feet. Red yucca is not in the yucca genus but is closely related (agave). This plant is commonly planted in central Texas as a low to no-water use evergreen perennial.  Hummingbirds love their flowers.

These are just a few of the yucca family that are suitable for the Hays County and Austin area. With thoughtful placement, yuccas can make our landscapes more beautiful and will be sure to last through any droughts that come our way in future years.

Happy gardening everyone!

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