Although called Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora is more closely related to the Agaves than the Yuccas, and its showy blooms, carried on long, arching stalks, are generally rosy-pink or salmon. A native of the Chihuahuan desert of northern Mexico, the plant is heat and drought tolerant and recommended for USDA hardiness zones 5 to 11. The succulent grows in clumps of grass-like, blue-green foliage dominated by flower stalks which may reach 5 feet (1.5 m) long.
A fringe of fraying fibers edge the Red Yucca’s leathery leaves, which spread up to 4 feet (1.2 m). Flowers are tubular and appear in clusters on pink stalks. Blooming begins in early summer and may continue for most of the rest of the year. Categorized as evergreen, the foliage develops a purplish cast in the winter.
- Yucca facts for kids
- Images for kids
- Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
- Yucca Flowers: Reasons Why A Yucca Plant Doesn’t Bloom
- Growing Yucca Flowers
- How Do I Get My Yucca to Flower?
Plant Red Yucca in full sun in well-drained soil, preferably a bit sandy. To establish a deep and extensive root system, follow a regular watering schedule during its first growing season. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer in the spring, before the new growth starts. Although established plants can get by on little water, for better-looking blooms, give them a deep soaking about once every two weeks during the heat of the summer.
Photo via azplantlady.com
Sometimes xeriscape gardeners avoid cacti and Yuccas, thinking of them as cliches, but the striking blooms and unusual foliage of the Red Yucca have won over xeriscape enthusiasts from California to Texas to Florida. The desert native is also at home in a rock garden, planted among dry streambeds and landscape boulders. A surprising addition to a cottage garden or border, it can contribute color and textural interest, if placed with other waterwise perennials. If you have the space, plant it en masse with other grasses for a native grassland effect. Finally, it makes an appealing patio accent when planted in a large pot.
- Back to genus Hesperaloe
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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Hesperaloe parviflora (Red Yucca) – A stemless succulent with clumps of arching and spreading grass-like foliage to 3 to 4 feet tall and speading wider than tall. The leathery long, narrow blue-green leaves have deep grooves and white fraying fibers along the margins and winter temperatures sometimes turn the foliage slightly purple. Clumps spread slowly to up to 6 feet wide. In late spring to mid-summer the clusters of rose-pink flowers are borne on tall red flower stalks to 5 feet long, that arch up and outward. These flowers, opening from the bottom up, are quite attractive to hummingbirds. Individual rosette only flower once and are replace by younger ones with old plants appearing to be closely packed grass-like clumps but are actually clusters of separate but closely-spaced rosettes with the oldest flowering rosettes towards the center and younger vegetative rosettes towards the outside. Plant in full sun or light shade in a well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant and does best in a hot spot in the garden but appreciates occasional irrigation in summer to encourage flowering but do not over water. Hardy to well below 0° F some say as low as -20° F (USDA zone 5). It is a good clean plant for desert and succulent gardens, planted in masses or used in pots. Unarmed leaves make it useful along pathways but unfortunately it also makes it tempting as browse for deer. This plant is native to the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas east and south into central and south Texas and northeastern Mexico around Coahuila. The name Hesperaloe means western aloe with the combination the Greek word ‘Hesperis’ meaning “of the evening” or “western” with “aloe” in reference to this plant being found in the North America (in the west) and superficially looking like plants in the genus Aloe. The specific epithet is from the Latin words ‘parvus’ meaning “small” and ‘flora’ meaning “flower” in reference to the small flowers are scattered along the inflorescence. The plant was first described as Yucca parviflora by John Torrey in the “Report on the United States and Mexican boundary Survey” in 1859 and was renamed Aloe yuccaefolia Asa Gray in “Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1868 but and then Hesperaloe yuccaefolia when George Engelmann described the plant in Sereno Watson’s “United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel vol. 5”. The name currently used is the combination that John Merle Coulter used in his description in “Contributions from the United States National Herbarium” in 1894. Other common names include False Red Yucca, Texas Red Yucca, Samandoque, Coral Yucca Red Flower Yucca and Hummingbird Yucca. We also grow a smaller dark red selection called Hesperaloe Brakelights. The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery’s garden and in other gardens that we have observed it in. We also will incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing Hesperaloe parviflora.
The strong vertical form of hesperaloe with its spectacular flower spikes makes this clumping, evergreen perennial an ideal accent plant for gardens. While not a true yucca or aloe, it is related to yuccas and agaves, and like its relatives, is a carefree, non-demanding plant. Hesperaloes are extremely hardy, tolerating both heat and cold well in our climate. Hesperaloes prefer a sunny location and mature more rapidly with well-drained soils, but will adapt to heavy soils if not over-watered.
Hummingbirds are attracted to the tubular flowers that occur in several colors, ranging from creams to yellow, to bright reds. It’s long, thornless, sword-like leaves work well with gray-leafed shrubs, such as leucophyllum, and look striking when emerging from a patch of flowering groundcovers or wildflowers. Established plants provide long-lasting summer color. This plant adapts to annual rainfall, but will look best with minimal supplemental irrigation during extended hot, dry periods. Fall and winter are ideal times for planting.
Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora
This attractive accent plant is irresistible to hummingbirds. Its coral red flower spikes appear in the spring and last through fall, reaching heights from 4 to 8 feet. The narrow, green leaves can reach lengths of 3 feet, providing both textural and color contrast in the landscape.
Red yuccas can be used to enhance either the Mediterranean or Sonoran landscape image. The soft, fleshy leaves allow this plant to be used in high traffic areas and around swimming pools. Hesperaloe parviflora tolerates almost any soil type and temperatures to zero degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers full sun and requires little supplemental water except during the dry months of summer.
Giant Hesperaloe, Hesperaloe funifera
Because of their size, Giant Hesperaloes work best in commercial landscapes. PHOTO by Donna DiFrancesco
Giant hesperaloe is much larger than red yucca, forming a clump up to 6 feet in height and width when mature. The long, thick, straight leaves of the giant hesperaloe, adorned by white fibers, make it an interesting bold accent in the transitional and oasis zones of the landscape. The creamy white flowers bloom sporadically, spring through fall, on stalks that reach heights of 10 to 15 feet. Avoid planting giant hesperaloe close to walkways and pedestrian areas because of its sharp-tipped leaves and large size. Like red yucca, Hesperaloe funifera performs best with some supplemental waterings during the dry summer months.
Did you know that up to 70% of water use is outdoors? That’s why we love desert plants and feature them each month. Find even more beautiful plants on our Arizona Low-Water-Use Plants page, and visit our page on Choosing and Planting Low Water-Use Plants for tips on plant selection and how to plant properly.”
TOP FEATURED PHOTO: Red Yucca by Steve Priebe.
This feature is based on a concept and text originally developed jointly by the Arizona Nursery Association and the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) with partial funding from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Yucca facts for kids
For the plant called Yuca, see Manioc.
|Yucca baccata in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada|
Yucca is a family of shrubs and trees, related to the agaves. There are between 40 and 50 different kinds of Yucca. All come from the hot and dry places in North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.
They have a very special way of pollination. There is an animal, the Yucca moth, which does the pollination. It also lays its eggs in the plant. The larvae will eat some of the seeds, but not all of them.
In many parts of the world, yuccas are grown as ornamental flowers.
Images for kids
Distribution of the capsular fruited species in southwest, midwest USA, Mexico’s Baja California and Canada, overview
Large Joshua tree with thick trunk at Grapevine Springs Ranch, AZ
Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), growing in the Mojave Desert
Unknown species near Orosí, Costa Rica
Yucca near Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico
Yucca harrimaniae also known as Harriman’s yucca
Yucca faxoniana in Texas, with mature fruits
Yucca schidigera in Nevada, in full bloom
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Tuesday – April 09, 2013
From: Lago Vista, TX
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Failure to bloom of red yucca from Lago Vista TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford
I am in Lago Vista – trying to find out why I can’t get my red yucca to bloom. The first year they were great and now after two or three years – no measurable spikes have shown up. HELP!
Hesperaloe parviflora (Red yucca) is not a true yucca, but a member of the Agavaceae (Century Plant) family. It is barely possible that the first year you had the plant that it had been force bloomed, although we have no idea how you would do that to a succulent. If that were true, maybe it has not yet matured to natural bloom stage. Under normal circumstances, it blooms red and yellow from March to July.
That is pure speculation, because we can find no other explanation; however, we can do some speculating of our own. Do you have deer in your area? We understand deer absolutely adore the blooms, and since the red yucca also attracts night-feeding moths, the deer might dine at night, and just clean the blooms right off. They won’t nibble the “leaves” but they will consume the flowers. One last speculation, if you are fertilizing grass around the red yucca with a high nitrogen fertilizer (the purpose of which is to encourage the green leaves of that grass), that may cause profuse green leaf growth, using up all the energy that would go into blooms. And if the red yucca happens to be under a sprinkler system, it is probably getting too much water. We don’t know if that affects the blooming, but it’s not good for a desert plant.
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Yucca Flowers: Reasons Why A Yucca Plant Doesn’t Bloom
Yuccas make a lovely low maintenance screen or garden accent, especially the yucca plant flower. When your yucca plant doesn’t bloom, this can be frustrating. However, knowing more about what it takes to get blooms on yucca plants can help alleviate this frustration while answering the question of, “How do I get my yucca to flower?”
Growing Yucca Flowers
Yucca plants are members of the Agave family and include over 40 different types of shrubby perennials that grow in North America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Yuccas are slow growing evergreen plants with sword-like leaves. All yucca flowers are bell-shaped and sit on top of tall stems.
Yuccas are very easy to grow and can be put in containers or planted in the ground in well-drained soil. Yuccas are drought resistant and can survive for many months without water.
They are not picky about sun or shade but do need bright light if indoors. Check your species to be sure that you are providing the right growing conditions. Not enough light can sometimes discourage blooms on yucca plants.
Regular fertilization and trimming will also help keep the plant healthy and encourage both growth and yucca flowers. Adding phosphorus-rich fertilizer or bone meal to the soil can often help encourage a yucca plant flower to form. The best time to prune yucca plants is in early October.
How Do I Get My Yucca to Flower?
If your yucca plant doesn’t bloom, it could be due to several things. Yuccas only bloom when they reach a certain age of maturity and they all bloom according to their own schedule.
Blooms on yucca plants generally appear during the warmest part of the growing season but differ slightly with each species. The same yucca may bloom at an entirely different time the following year, as yucca flowers tens to bloom sporadically.
Keep your yucca fertilized and cut the old flower head and stalk from the previous year to encourage new blooms to form.
The yucca plant flower also has an interesting relationship with a moth that pollinates the yucca and survives on its nectar. That said, the yucca plant will oftentimes not bloom unless this moth is present. In places where there are no yucca moths, the plant must be hand pollinated.