Yucca filamentosa & Y. flaccida–PLANT FIX

Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge' shines

It’s been some winter, and it’s not even done yet.  A stroll around the garden reveals many a pathetic looking plant whose normally evergreen leaves are now blackened and scorched at its feet.  Or worse looking yet, rusty brown and burnt foliage hanging limp in place.  It’s not a pretty sight, yet amongst the “will it make it?” plants, are several standouts that look like they just popped in from California.

The Yucca filamentosa and Yucca flaccida variegated hybrids look stellar.  They’re bold, colorful and so very unfazed by the frigid weather.  This shouldn’t surprise me, being as though they are native to colder climes on the east coast, yet they don’t look hardy in a way.  They look decidedly tender and exotic, despite their true demeanor.

Yucca flaccida 'Golden Sword'

Yucca flaccida has sword shaped leaves that bend or flop over from the center, while Yucca filamentosa’s are decidedly more upright.  There are those who believe flaccida isn’t a separate species, but regardless, these are great looking, easy to grow plants that stand up to the cold (z5-10).  I have a few variegated hybrids that I grow in the ground and in pots, both situations to which they are suited.  And they seem to be quite accommodating with regard to soil type, though they do come up to size more speedily in richer soil with regular moisture.  I grow them in sandy, but well composted soil, yet they grow in clay.  Best in full sun, mine thrive with less than a whole day of rays. 

The variegated hybrids achieve a 2-3’ height with about a 5’ spread over time, developing side “pups” to the main rosette, getting slowly wider–not developing a trunk.  The tall bloom stalks that appear in mid to late summer feature creamy white bell shaped flowers and can reach anywhere from 4 to 6’ tall depending on the cultivar.  Mine have yet to bloom, though they should soon.  Plants bloom after 3-5 years, the originating rosette then dying as the pups take over.

I could certainly refer to the variegated yuccas as “cheery”; their sunny colors and tolerant attitude make them garden MUST HAVES.

© Colleen Miko, 2011

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About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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