Name: soft tip yucca, Yucca elephantipes species and varieties; Spanish bayonet (Yucca filamentosa).
Height: can be as tall as 8m, but easily controlled by pruning
Foliage: evergreen, long, narrow grey-green.
Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid, sub-tropical and tropical, but not for frost-prone spots.
Soil: adaptable to most soil types, provided they are well drained.
Position: full sun, but will tolerate light shade.
Flowering: white bell-shaped flowers hanging off an upright stem.
Feeding: generally not required, except in pots.
Watering: incredibly dry tolerant once established; will go for months without water.
The yucca develops with a single upright growing stem surrounded by radiating sword-like leaves. In the most common form, these end in a soft point, but be careful, as in some species they end in a very sharp needle!
The leaves are light green to grey green, and there are also variegated forms with cream or white strips.
Yucca is often grown to give a striking architectural effect to a garden. Plant in a well-spaced row for dramatic effect. It can also be grown in pots, and soft tip yucca can also be grown indoors.
This plant is famous for its tolerance of hot and dry conditions, and for surviving general neglect.
For best results, follow these tips when planting your yucca:
Yucca has very few maintenance requirements. If the leaves turn brown you can remove them by pulling them down off the stem. Some people do this to all the lower leaves, in order to show off the trunk, but this is not essential.
If your yucca gets too tall, you can shorten it by sawing it off at the point you want it to regrow from. It will look bare for a little while, but new shoots will grow from below the cut. The pieces you have cut off can be used to grow new plants (see below).
Yucca is rarely affected by pests or diseases, but watch out for things like scale insects, particularly if growing indoors. These can be controlled with a garden insecticide if their numbers build up.
Growing yucca from cuttings
Yucca is propagated by using cut-off pieces of mature plants:
Remember that the fresh cuttings have no roots, so can topple over easily. Make sure you hold them in place, or put them in a sheltered spot where they won’t be knocked about by the wind, until the roots have formed.
Cordyline: green strappy foliage on the top of an upright stem.
Agave: a succulent with a rosette of blue-grey foliage.
Dragon tree: an unusual symmetrical plant with grey, sword-like foliage on top of a solid trunk.
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