Is the yucca plant new to you? This arid plant may look interesting enough to add to your landscape plant palette choices. Yuccas are plants that have stiff, dagger-like leaves and stunning spikes of white flowers. Drought-tolerant and hardy, yuccas are Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ plants worthy of your attention.
First, a word of caution - with common names such as Spanish Bayonet, some yuccas are known for their dangerously sharp needle-like tips. Fortunately, these sharp tips can be rendered harmless by clipping them off with pruners. There is also a spineless yucca which has needle-less leaves.
A Florida native yucca, the Spanish Bayonet or Yucca aloifolia, is a tall plant up to fifteen feet in height which may even form multi-stemmed clumps. The dark green leaves of this yucca must be de-needled with pruners for safety purposes. If you want these plants fully armed with their needles, this yucca should be placed away from areas where people may travel. Otherwise, they can used as spiny security plants strategically placed near sites where you do not want intruders. Yucca aloifolia is known to occasionally fall over and start new plants, so give them plenty of space for expansion. A very drought-tolerant plant, the leaf margins of this yucca are rough to the touch. Although the Spanish Bayonet prefers full sun to part shade, they will even thrive in almost full shade conditions. One colorful cultivar to look for is called ‘Tricolor’ which has green and white leaves.
For those gardeners that want a naturally “de-clawed” yucca, try the Spineless Yucca, a.k.a. Soft-Tip Yucca or Yucca elephantipes. Brought to Florida in 1956, and much taller than the other yuccas, the Spineless Yucca grows up to thirty-feet tall and fifteen feet wide. This non-native yucca is a very fast grower in comparison with the other yuccas and has a large single trunk with impressive four-foot-long leaves. A multi-trunked tree may develop over time from sprouts at the base. Once they reach eight to ten feet tall, Spineless Yuccas are able to produce a spectacular three-foot-tall bloom. This yucca can also be kept as a houseplant. In the landscape, the Spineless Yucca must have excellent drainage.
Yuccas, both spiny and spineless, can make an interesting accent to your landscape, so make it a point to add one to your yard! For more information on all types of different ornamental plant materials suitable for our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Don't forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times - http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.
Gilman, E. F. & Watson, D. G. (2011) Yucca elephantipes : Spineless Yucca. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Gilman, E. F. & Watson, D. G. (2011) Yucca elephantipes 'Variegata': Variegated Spineless Yucca. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Gilman, E. F. (2011) Yucca aloifolia. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Knox, G. W. (2013) Agave and Yucca: Tough Plants for Tough Times. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Brown, S. H. (2012) Yucca aloifolia. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS – Lee County.
Christman, S. (2004) Yucca aloifolia. Floridata.com, Tallahasshee, FL.