Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yucca Gloriosa 'Variegata'

Patch of Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' growing in my front border
     This is the third and final chapter in my Yucca series. Yesterday and the day before, I highlighted the best in the genus, in my opinion, Yucca rostrata and Yucca linearifolia.  I have grown a number of of other yuccas from time to time in my garden, but the only other one I now have is this one in the picture (although, as I will discuss below, I have some others that were labeled Yucca aloifolia, I am not at all sure they are not Yucca gloriosa).
     Anyway, the ones in the picture--there are probably 8 or 9 of them planted en mass in this area--came to me as tissue cultured liners from Terra Nova more than 10 years ago when I still ran my little nursery called Froggy Bottom.  For those who are not familiar with  plant nursery jargon, a liner is just a tiny plant which is then potted up to a larger pot and grown until it fills out the larger pot for sale in a retail nursery.  Tissue cultured plants are sold as liners to wholesale nurseries which then grow them on and sell them to retail nurseries, and they are marked up in price at each step of the way.  If you can use 32 plants of a single variety, then buying a liner tray of them is certainly the cheapest way to get them.  But, like with Costco, you have to buy large quantities to get the savings.  And you have to be willing to grow them on to larger sizes before planting them in the ground.
     But enough of that interesting (or not) sidelight--on the the main topic of Yucca gloriosa.  These yuccas are growing in a location in my front border that had terrible, compacted soil, that dried out in the summer, but that was fairly waterlogged in winter.  Yet despite these hardships, these plants have prospered.  Yucca gloriosa, being a native of the South Eastern US is adapted to coping with wet, more so than many other yuccas.
     I planted so many of them in this spot because I had that many of them and at that stage in my gardening career I was into mass plantings of one type of plant.  As it turns out, while the effect looks pretty good, it is a big mistake to plant these yuccas en mass because you will probably put your eye out sometime when you are weeding under them.  The leaves on these are wicked sharp.  Another problem with these yuccas is that the dead leaves have to be cut off periodically or else they start to look really shabby.  Doing this is yet another way to impale yourself.  I should also mention that once you have a plant of this established in your garden, it is virtually impossible to get rid of because it will regrow from any bit of root left in the ground.  Indeed, if you have a plant that has gotten too big or ugly, a good way to rejuvenate it is to cut it down to the ground and wait a few years. 
     In the picture you see the blooms on these which are starting out.  While the flowers are really spectacular, albeit of the dreaded white variety, usually the deer wait until they are poised to open and then they eat them.
     I have some other yuccas in my garden which look just like these but they were sold to me as Yucca aloifolia 'Variegata'.  While I am no yucca expert, I have read here that Yucca aloifolia differs from Yucca gloriosa in that Yucca aloifolia has marginal spines on the leaves and a brown sharp terminal spike, which my plants do not have.  I have also had conversations with Sean Hogan concerning the identity of these plants, and he was not at all sure that they were different species.
     When I was first starting my garden almost 20 years ago, I bought a Yucca at B&B Cactus in Tuscon that was labeled Yucca aloifolia 'Marginata'.  A picture of that plant, taken by my friend Terry Moyemont in my garden may be found here.  I loved that plant and it looked good for many years until one snowy day when my husband backed his car into it and caused vehicular horticide.  That was the end of that plant, although it may live on at Cistus, since Sean took some portions of its roots to propagate from.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like you are not posting anymore. I just found your blog by scouring internet for information about gardening in Pacific NW. We moved here from Los Angeles a 1 1/2 ago, and now after buying a home we need to figure out what grows here. Incidentally, I'm planting this spring exactly the plants you have in the picture above, amongst others: Yucca gloriosa, and tall verbena :)