Grow yucca from seed

Yucca Seed Pod Propagation: Tips For Planting Yucca Seeds

Yuccas are arid region plants that are extremely adaptable to the home landscape. They are popular for their drought tolerance and ease of care but also because of their striking sword-like foliage. The plants infrequently bloom, but when they do, they develop oval seed pods. With a little yucca plant pod info, you can grow more of these amazing plants in your own home.

Yucca Plant Pod Info

Yuccas produce a lovely white to cream flower stalk, decorated with dangling blooms. These panicles will last for several weeks and then the petals will drop off and the ovary will start to develop. Soon seed pods will form. You can allow these to mature on the plant until dry and then harvest them. Alternately, you can cut off the seed pods on yucca to avoid the plant self-seeding. Cutting the stalk will not affect future blooms.

Yucca seed pods will range up the entire flower stalk. They are about one inch long and have a hard, dry husk. Inside are many black flat

seeds, which are the source for baby yuccas. Once the seed pods on yucca are dry, they are ready to collect. Crack open the pods and gather the seeds. They can be stored in sand in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant. They will be viable for up to 5 years.

Yucca seed pod propagation outdoors should be started in spring, but you can start them indoors at any time. Planting yucca seeds indoors is probably the best way to propagate the plant and control the growing environment. The first step is to soak the seeds for 24 hours. Yucca seed pods have a hard carapace which will need to soften so the seed can germinate more readily.

Yucca Seed Pod Propagation

Temperatures should be between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 C) for germination. They need well drained soil with plenty of grit added. Use flats for planting yucca seeds indoors. Germination may be variable, but if you plant plenty of the seeds, some will sprout.

Germination usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. Keep the young plants moderately moist and transplant them within 8 weeks to slightly larger individual pots. Allow the surface of the soil to dry in between watering.

Yuccas started from seeds grow slowly and unpredictably. They will not be ready to flower for 4 to 5 years.

Other Methods of Propagation

Yucca can also be started from rhizomes or offsets. Dig up rhizomes in winter and cut into 3-inch sections. Pot them up in sterile potting soil indoors. In 3 to 4 weeks, they will produce roots.

Offsets or pups grow at the base of the parent plant and are genetic clones to the original. They are a fast way to multiply your yucca collection. Cut them away from the parent, just under the soil. Allow them to root in a pot before transplanting out into the garden.

How to Grow a Yucca from Seeds

The best way to start a new yucca plant is with yucca seeds. This plant is a hardy, woodsy perennial that grows to about 18 to 20 inches, producing beautiful white flowers atop straight stems with sword-like leaves. This great addition to any garden will flower from the middle of summer through to late fall.

Growing yucca from seeds requires a lot of time and patience. If you have these things to spare, you can have a striking plant ready for your garden. Here are some steps to follow when growing a new yucca plant from seeds.

Step 1 – Start Seeds in Winter

Unlike a lot of plants, you’ll need to start your yucca seeds during the winter indoors. This is best done indoors instead of direct planting into the soil, as it takes anywhere from a month to a year for the seeds to germinate and if the conditions are not right, they will fail.

To get the seeds started, place them in a plastic container on top of a paper towel. Put in about a quarter-inch of water on the bottom of the container and place in a very warm area. The constant temperature should be between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the warmer it is, the better. The plastic will act to keep in the humidity so that the air remains moist. After about a month, and up to a year, the seeds will sprout.

Step 2 – Place in Planting Trays

Transplant the seedlings in small planting trays. Fill each cup with soil and sow the seedlings in the middle of the tray about 1/2-inch into the soil. This soil should be a mixture of 50% sand and 50% organic materials.

Step 3 – Water and Place in Warm Spot

After you have placed the seed, water them and place them in a warm area. Set them in a part of your home that will get a lot of western sun. This way you can also water them in the hot afternoon sun. As they drink in the water, the sun will add to the chemical reactions going on inside the plant causing it to grow.

Step 4 – Watch Size and Transplant as Needed

The yucca plant will need to be kept indoors for at least two years. During this time the plant will begin to grow larger, and the roots will begin to grow deep into the pots that you have them in. Yucca roots do not like to be crowded, but will adapt to whatever situation they are in. However, your plant will have a much better chance of success if you keep the roots healthy and happy, so as it grows, you will need to keep transplanting it into progressively bigger pots.

Step 5 – Move Outside

After about two to two and a half years the plant will be hardy enough to plant outdoors in the garden. Find an area that gets plenty of sunlight, but still some times of shade. The soil must be a little sandy and loose and be able to hold moisture well. Transplant the yucca in the spring after the frost has left the ground. Water it immediately and mix in some fertilizer into the soil to give it a good start in its new home.

Yucca seed

As soon as I hit send I realized that I did not answer the second part of your question, which is does this apply to other species. The general answer is that seed harvesting should not occur until the seed is fully matured, which generally means that the fruit will beyond harvest or the flower head will be a little unsightly. So for example if you grew cucumbers and wanted to harvest seed you should let that fruit stay on the vine until the vine began to turn brown. Then harvest the cucumber and remove the seeds. They will look quite different than the seeds in a cucumber you might eat. They will be hardened, larger, and a bit darker than the immature seeds you happily munch with your cucumber fruit.
For flowers that reseed readily the timing can be a bit tricky. The best practice might be to test the readiness by gently shaking the bloom over a collection container to see if the seed easily releases. Another sign is that you may see seeds on the ground near the plant and that will tell you that seed is ready to harvest. Whether or not they need to be refrigerated will depend on the species of the plant. Many seeds require a cooling period before they can germinate. That cooling period can be in the ground for cold hardy species, if you want them to reseed in place. If you want to propagate apart from where the plant is growing then spending some time in the refrigerator will meet the need for that cooling period.
I hope this helps. It is always better to research the seed requirements for each species of plant you wish to harvest from.

Yucca Rostrata Pinnacle Seeds

Most landscape gardeners are familiar with Yucca varieties as they are relatively fast growing, hardy evergreen plants, with a distinct architectural style, making them a popular choice. Whilst there are many popular species of Yucca, Yucca Rostrata is one of the most loved species, due to its very refined appearance, ornate trunk, not to mention sensationally elegant silvery foliage. Because only very old plants of this variety produce flowers, the seeds of Yucca Rostrata are generally quite rare and highly sought after. The cultivar we have here, Yucca Rostrata Pinnacle was originally selected as a particularly elegant selection from Texas, that is highly suitable for landscaping as it sheds its old leaves exposing its beautiful ornate stems/trunks, upon which the narrow beautiful strappy silver leaves emerge. This relatively quick growing variety is used in gardens to provide some Spanish/Mexican/Exotic flair, contrast with existing garden shrubs and provide textures to soften harsh surrounds. This variety is also of architectural appeal as it does spectacularly well in pots beside/inside buildings, in foyer areas or out in the open near a pool or perhaps a Tuscan courtyard. The first 2-3 years of growth, the plant grows in single fully-leafed stems, before it typically adopts a distinct multi-trunked shape (particularly if it is in the garden and receiving light from all directions) before commencing flowering when it reaches 3-5 years of age.

Advantages of Yucca Rostrata Pinnacle

  • Beautiful architectural plant
  • Stunning silver foliage
  • Long-lived specimen tree
  • Ideal for pots
  • Hardy and easy to grow

Features

  • 2m+ height at maturity
  • Spacings depend of intended use, however 2m+ is generally advisable
  • Only relatively mature plants generally flower
  • Suitable for part-shade and full sun
  • Drought tolerant
  • Suitable for pots and will grow in most regions of Australia
  • Perennial plant requiring 5+ years to be fully mature

Seed Sowing Instructions

  • Easy to follow seed propagation notes are provided with every seed purchase
  • Seeds of this variety are best started in seed raising mix or Jiffy® pellets before planting into the garden

What am I Purchasing?

  • Premium seeds of Yucca Rostrata Pinnacle
  • Easy to follow seed propagation notes

Yucca rigida (Blue Yucca) seeds

Yucca are remarkable plants grown for the architectural value of their bold, sword-shaped leaves and showy panicles of flowers help on stout upright stems high above the foliage. Make excellent feature plants in containers or a bold statement in the border. Do particularly well in seaside gardens with poor, sandy soil.

Yucca rigida is a robust Yucca, native to Mexico, forming a single trunk topped with beautiful, light blue, stiff leaves with a yellow margin. Proving pretty hardy in the UK when kept relatively dry in winter, well suited to sandy soil or a gravel garden. A must for any Mediterranean, jungle or tropical themed garden and well suited to pots and container.

Hardy Perennial (to -10C)
Flowers: Mid to late summer
Height: 1-2m
Position: Sun & very well-drained soil.
Packet of 10 seeds

GROWING GUIDE

Sowing Instructions: Sow at any time of year. Sow very thinly on the surface of a moist, free-draining, good seed compost (eg. John Innes) and just cover the seed with sieved compost. Seal in a polythene bag and propagate at 13-15C on a windowsill or greenhouse/coldframe (in summer). Germination should take place in 1-4 months and can be erratic, hence the need to sow thinly so that seedlings can be removed without disturbing the compost too much.
Growing Instructions: When the seedlings are large enough to handle, pot up individually into small pots (7-9cm) and grow on in well-ventilated, cooler conditions. Overwinter in a frost free place. When established, gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions before planting out in late spring, 1.2-2m apart, in a sunny position and well-drained soil.

How to Grow Great Yucca Plants in the Garden

Everything you need to know about Growing and Caring for Yucca Plants such as Soapweed, Spanish Dagger, Spanish Bayonet, and Adam’s needle

The Yucca Plant is a hardy or half-hardy perennial. The genus contains up to 50 species and these can range in height from 30 cm to 2.5 m (1 foot to 8 feet).


Yucca angustissima – Narrow Leaf Yucca Plant by brewbooks.

Yuccas typically have very thick woody stems, and spiky sword shaped leaves leaves.

They bloom from the middle of summer through autumn, when they carry white flowers.

Some common names for the Yucca plant include Soapweed, Spanish Dagger, Spanish Bayonet and Adam’s needle.

If you have children or pets it may not be a good idea to grow yucca plants in the garden, as they have razor sharp leaves that can easily hurt people and animals.

The following video gives an overview of this plant

Quick Yucca Plant Growing Guide

Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Half hardy perennial.

Height: 12 to 120 inches (30 to 300 cm).

Growing Season: Spring and Summer

Native: Americas.

Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.

Flowers: Middle of summer through to autumn.

Flower Details: White, cream. Droopy. Soap like fragrance.

Foliage: Evergreen. Rosettes. Sword-like. Sharp.

Sow Outside: Seeds: Cover. Spring. Can be planted singly; between 18 to 60 inches (45 to 150 cm) depending upon species size.

Sow Inside: Germination time: one month to one year. Temperature: 65 to 75°F (18 to 24°C). Towards the end of winter or the start of spring. Grow seedlings indoors for two years. Transplant outdoors in the spring, once night-time temperatures do not fall below 45°F (7°C).

Requirements and Plant Care: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Can survive in dry and poor soils. Soil pH 5.5 to 7.5. Generally easy to care for but caution required: always wear protective, preferably chain mail or similar gloves when caring for Yucca Plants. Tidy leaves up to stop from becoming scruffy. Propagate: by planting offsets or from root cuttings.

Miscellaneous: Leaves can be very sharp, think seriously about the safety of children and animals before growing yucca in the garden. Yucca plants bloom at night. The plants have mutualistic relationship with the Yucca moth, which acts as a pollinator and lays eggs in the plant. Other Lepidoptera that are attractive to these plants include the Yucca, Ursine and Strecker’s Giant Skipper. Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parvifolia) is not a true yucca, but is actually a member of the Agave family.

How to Grow Yucca – An In-depth Look

Plants have large, stiff, and sword like rosette leaves, are a genus of perennial trees and shrubs from the family Asparagaceae, and are contained within the subfamily Agavoideae.


Yucca queretaroensis

Yucca Distribution

Plants are native to the dry and hot parts of South, Central and North America, and to the Caribbean.

They are currently one of the main gardening trends in the United Kingdom when it comes to landscaping and home garden plants.

There are nine species and 24 subspecies of Yucca, and their distribution covers a vast area of Central and North America.

Yuccas have adapted to a vast range of ecological and climatic conditions, as is demonstrated by its distributional spread from the Gulf of Mexico to the drier central states such in Alberta in Canada, and through to the inland neighboring states and the Atlantic coastal.

Plants are found in badlands and rocky deserts, in grassland and prairies, in light woodland, in mountainous regions, in semi-temperate and subtropical zones, and even in coastal sands (Yucca filamentosa); though these areas are generally arid to semi-arid.


Photograph by Terren in Virginia.

Yucca Plant Uses

Yuccas are generally known as ornamental plants in gardens.

There are also several yucca species that bear edible parts, such as their flowers, Young flower stalk, and flowering stem, seeds, fruits and roots.

The use of yucca roots as food often comes from the confusion with the same spelled, yet unrelated to yucca botanically, Manihot esculenta, commonly known as Cassava.

That said there are many yucca plant uses, for example: the roots of Yucca elata (soaptree yucca), are rich in saponins and are used in Native American rituals as a shampoo.

Trunk fibers and dried yucca leaves makes the plant perfect for use in fires that are started through fiction, as they have a low ignition temperature.

Species such as Yucca filamentosa, in rural Appalachian areas, are coined as “meat hangers”, as its sharp spiny tips and tough fibrous leaves are used in puncturing meat, as well as knotted in order to form a loop wherein meat can be hung in smoking houses, or for salt curing.

Yucca Pollination and its Relationship with Moths and Butterflies

The mutualistic pollination system of Yuccas is very specialized, as they are pollinated by the Yucca moths from the family Prodoxidae.

Yucca moths will transfer the pollen purposely from the stamen of one plant to the stigma of another plant, whilst laying eggs in the flower at the same time.

The moth larva will then feed on some of the developing seeds; there are more than enough seeds left to perpetuate the species.

Different species of Yucca serve as host plants for the caterpillar of the Ursine Giant-Skipper (Megathymus ursus), Yucca Giant-Skipper (Megathymus yuccae), and Strecker’s Giant-Skipper (Megathymus streckeri).

Prodoxus decipiens Bogus Yucca Moth photograph by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, CC.

See this page for information on growing butterfly garden plants.

Common Types of Yucca Plants

  • Yucca baccata. Also known as the Banana Yucca due to the shape of its fruits; these can be eaten and baked like a sweet potato. “Datil yucca” is the other term for this variant in some locations, as the plant has some resemblance to an Agave. It has shorter trunk and bluer or more glacous folialge compared to other yuccas such as the Mojave yucca. It grows five feet and up in dry soil and full sun. Purple and off-white flowers will start to appear from mid-April to July.
  • Yucca carnerosana (Yucca faxoniana). This variety can grow 12 feet tall by six feet wide and is native in Mexico and Texas. It grows in part shade and full sun in zones 8a to 11, although gardeners from zone 6 particularly in Denver, CO are reported to be growing yucca successfully. They produce white flowers that will turn into a pretty shade of pink in mid to late spring when the plant blooms.
  • Yucca glauca. Produces grey to green leaves that form two foot mounds across the dry South-western part of the United States. This variety requires a dry climate and sandy soil in order to bloom. Flower stalks shoot will start to appear in early summer from the plant’s crown. Each stalk can produce up to 15 aromatic, greenish white flowers. The crown of the plant will die after blooming.
  • Yucca pallida. This variety is alternatively referred to as pale yucca due to its grey-green or blue-green leaves that form a rosette one or two inches tall. It is natively grown in Texas. Pale-leaf yucca can tolerate partial shade and full sun and its white flowers will start to appear in mid-summer; these are held on upright stalks a couple of inches from the leaf tips.
  • Yucca rigida. A beautiful yucca palm that is also called as Blue yucca or Palmilla due to its striking blue-gray leaves; these go well with its creamy yellow flower clusters. It is known to be enduring of zones eight to ten, and has also been reported as surviving the Phoenix, Arizona winters. The branching canes of Yucca rigida can grow up to 15 feet tall and six feet wide.
  • Yucca rostrata. Another type of beautiful blue yucca, which is commonly called the Blue Beaked yucca plant. It can be grown in cold places even in zone 5, as has been recorded in New York State and is one of the most cold hardy amongst the Yucca species.
  • Yucca rupicola. Fascinating type of yucca as its leaves are unique from that of other yucca leaves. The leaves are dark green in colour; strap shaped, two inches wide, and form rosettes not greater than two feet tall. It is also termed as the Twisted-leaf yucca due to the ability of its leaves to twist with age. Yucca rupicola features red or white edges as well as curly white hairs, which are yuccan fiber. It can grow in partial shade and full sunlight and is native in Texas.
  • Yucca schidigera. Also known as Mojave yucca, this is basically a yucca tree. One of its common names is Spanish Dagger because of the sharpness of the tips of its yellow-green leaves. Its heavy canes can reach around six to 12 inches when the plant matures and will produce white flowers with a purple tinge. Yucca schidigera should be planted well away from foot traffic. It is closely related with Yucca baccata, and hybridizes freely with it; they both inhibit the same range. Yucca schidigera is native to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of Arizona, Nevada and California.
  • Yucca gigantea (Synonyms: Yucca elephantipes and Y. guatemalensis). this is the tallest if the yuccas and can reach heights of thirty feet (9 M). It is commonly referred to as the Giant, Spineless, or Soft-tip Yucca. It blooms with white flowers in the summer. The Yucca elephantipes plants are drought-tolerant and often grown indoors as house-plants when they are young.

Further Reading and References

Wikipedia; Yucca Moths; GardenWeb; Ask the Gardener; Utah State Extension; Yucca Plant and Moth Interactions.


Some species, such as Yucca elephantipes, can have spreads of well over 6 M. Photograph by Wallygrom.

Growing Plants

Yucca plants (shrubs variety) can be grown both indoors and out. Bigger varieties are planted outdoors whilst smaller ones can occupy spaces indoors.

Grow in indirect light close to a South facing window (1.5 m, 5 feet distance).

If you have an East facing window then place them on the window shelf so that they get the morning light. Or if they receive late evening light from a west facing window place them about 50 to 80 cm (1.5 to 2.5 feet) away.

They can also be planted in pots and containers as well as in garden beds, depending on what is available to the gardener.

Many people enjoy growing yucca plants indoors because they are low maintenance and have the ability to clean the air. They are also used as decorations to enhance a home and perhaps give it a Southwestern USA theme.

Growing Location and Soil Condition

Choose a location that has access to full sun. Although Yuccas can tolerate partial shade, they grow best under full sunlight.

The soil should be somewhat dry and well-drained as the roots of Yuccas rot easily in wet soil.

Growing Yucca Plants from Seeds

If you want to grow Yucca tree from seed then it is best to first start indoors.

Yucca seeds take anything from one month to one year to germinate, and are best sown at the end of winter.

Germinate Yucca at 18 to 25 degrees centigrade (65 to 77°F) and initially grow them indoors for about three years.

It is best to keep Yucca indoors in a safe place if you have children or pets, but if required in the garden then transplant them outdoors a few weeks after the last chance of any frost in the spring.

Growing in Pots and Containers

Yuccas are not overly fond of pot cultivation, but they are usually fine when large pots are used.

Use a three liter rose pot for a young seedling up to three years of age. For older plants, use ten liter pots or bigger.

Make sure the growing spot is located to have access to full sun, as Yuccas planted indoors with limited light and root run often have a dwarfish look. Though this look is actually a desirable one for some indoor yucca species.

The following video provides useful advice on cultivating Yucca plant

How to Grow Yucca Outdoors

It is probably easiest to purchase plants from a garden Centre or to plant Yucca from cuttings or offsets.

Depending on the species, space at 45 to 60 cm apart (18 to 24 inches — small), 60 cm to 90 cm (24 to 36 inches — medium), or up to 1.2 metres (4 feet) apart or in isolation for larger varieties.

Ideally they should be grown in a sunny area that has a poor soil with excellent drainage, and a pH of 5.5 to 7.5.

Soil Preparation in Raised Beds

Raised Beds: Outdoor planting for most species requires well-drained raised beds.

Although some varieties can be grown unprotected, some beds need to be protected against winter moisture.

Species that can be grown in unprotected beds include Yucca glauca, Yucca filamentosa, Yucca ‘Karlsruhensis’, Yucca flaccida, Yucca angustissima ssp. kanabensis, and several hybrids such as Yucca ‘Hybrid No. 1402’ and ‘Hybrid No. 500’.

The constructed beds must be raised so as to lean towards the sun, so that the plants get as much light as possible.

The usage of granite boulders is advisable to help raise the bed above the subsoil.

There should be a 17 to 40 cm (7 to 16 inches) layer of granite stones in the bottom of the beds, and 5 cm (two inches) layer of gravel on top of this.

Use a 2.5 to 5 cm (one to two inches) layer of 1 cm (½ inch) sized granite chippings to top dress, as this can help keep the root neck dry.

Planting

After digging a hole with the use of shovel to inspect the soil type, add small pebbled gravel or sand to implement the soil where the yucca is about to be planted.

To do this, dig a hole that is twice as deep and wide as the root ball of the yucca plant.

Put the extracted soil into a huge container or bucket, and add gravel or sand to the soil to make the planting bed 50 percent gravel/sand and 50 percent soil.

Placing some organic matter is beneficial; add more gravel or sand mixture if the soil has a heavy clay base to increase the drainage.

Place (5 to 8 cm (two to three inches) of the soil mixture into the bottom of the hole, and put the root ball of the Yucca plant on top of it.

Ensure that the plant is straight and centered. Fill in around the root ball with the remaining soil mixture until it reaches the soil surface level.

Gently press the soil to release any pockets of air. Sprinkle light water on the plant. Additional water can be added two to three weeks after planting.

Yucca Plant Care and Pruning

How to care for a yucca plant

Outdoor Yucca plant care: Plants prefer dry soil that has full access to the sun. Avoid overwatering the plant as this can cause rotting of the roots.

Cut off all the dead leaves in order to keep the plant neat. Make sure to wear heavy gloves to prevent the leaves from cutting your hands.

Yuccas are not fond of being transplanted, so make sure that you will choose the right location before planting them.

A once a year feeding is sufficient as Yuccas survive well in areas of low nutrients and are light eaters.

For potted houseplant

Yucca plant care indoors: make sure that the plant has sufficient access to intense light. Use heavy pots as Yuccas tend to be heavy in both their stem and foliage.

When watering, simply sprinkle water on the top of the plant if the soil feels dry.

Although yuccas do not prefer to watered heavily, draught or lack of water can cause the leaves to turn brown or yellow. Other than pruning a Yucca plant it pretty much cares after itself.

Houseplants may require a low-nitrogen fertilizer a couple of times per year.

When grown outdoors, apply a time-release fertilizer in a circle around about where you expect the roots to be.

It is important to tidy plants regularly.

As they have very sharp foliage ensure that you wear protective chain mail or very tough gloves when doing any pruning or removal of yucca plants as they can easily cut off a finger!

Similar to many other plants, Yuccas are best pruned right before they enter the growth period, which is usually in early spring, though this period can be extended to the beginning of summer.

Cutting off the flower stalks after the blooms have faded is also necessary to ensure a tidy appearance.

With the use of a sharp cutters or pruning shears, cut the stalk off at about 7 to 10 cm (three to four inches) above where the stalk had emerged from the main stem.

Make sure that the plant receives a lot of light when it is recovering.

Propagation of Yucca Plant from Cuttings

When propagating it is important to use mature tissue (in order to prevent root rot), and to perform the propagation in the spring.

Cut off the leafy top after marking the trunk, remove all of the upper leaves, and then plant the trunk in potting soil with the end that formerly had the leaves pointing up.

Now relocate the pot to a shady area. The trunk is expected to have rooted itself within two to three weeks of planting, and will start to produce new leaves.

Troubleshooting Problems – Pests and Diseases

After a wet warm winter, rust fungus can occur. This can be prevented by protecting the plants against heavy winter moisture with the use of a sheet of glass.

Slugs and snails can wreck havoc to Yucca seedlings. Use common insecticide to get rid of these pests.

Red-orange spores or lesions of the leaves are indications of a fungal disease. The infected leaves must be removed immediately in order to prevent further spreading.

Speckling on the leaves, as well as gray webs, are signs of spotted mites. In order to control this infestation, use insecticidal soaps and prune dead leaves off the plant.

Further Pages on Yuccas on Gardener’s HQ

In addition to this general Yucca plant growing guide page, the Gardener’s HQ website also carries basic Yucca growing information and photographs on the following species specific pages:

Yucca aloifolia | Spanish bayonet Yucca baccata | Banana yucca Yucca brevifolia | Joshua tree Yucca elata | Soap tree Yucca elephantipes | Spineless yucca Yucca filamentosa | Adam’s needle and thread Yucca filamentosa Bright Edge | Needle palm ‘Bright Edge’ Yucca filamentosa Color Guard | Adam’s needle Yucca glauca | Small soapweed Yucca gloriosa | Spanish dagger Yucca recurvifolia | Pendulous Yucca rostrata | Beaked yucca Yucca schidigera | Palmilla Yucca thompsoniana | Thompson’s yucca

Planting yucca seed sprouts

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As for the moth larva, it’s eat yucca or die. There are no alternative plant hosts. If all the yuccas were eradicated or died, the moth population would die out in a single year. The moth may be a finicky eater, but at least it had the good sense to choose an extremely hardy host to provide its diet.

The success of the relationship is evident. In the field beyond my mailbox, a dozen or more yuccas have sprouted from seed and are standing tall amid the parched grass, immigrants making themselves at home as naturalized citizens. I see more wild yuccas every year, growing in ditches and other untended spots, a natural consequence of the plant’s increasing popularity as an ornamental in local gardens.

Yuccas spread rather slowly, and are not likely to become an invasive pest as is the case with many other garden escapees. If they did become more common in the wild, however, it might not be such a bad thing.

Yuccas have a history of being useful. All have bundles of fibrous cells that can be pulled out of the leaf blade and braided into rope, like sisal, which is produced from a relative in the Agave family. In some areas of the Southwest and Baja California, yuccas are grown for that purpose.

Yucca blossoms are edible raw, or may be boiled and served as a vegetable. Indians roasted and ate the immature seedpods and ground the mature pods and seeds into flour. The roots contain saponin, a kind of natural soap, and have been used to make medicinal salves as well.

I’m not likely to roast yucca pods for dinner or lather up in the shower with a yucca root, although it’s reassuring to know that I can. I’m content to enjoy the plant for its stately beauty and ease of care.

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