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Plant of the Month | June 7, 2012

Plant Of The Month: Red Yucca

Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora

Red Yucca is a plant of contradictions. First, it is not actually red, and this plant is more closely related to Aloes than Yuccas. The blooms are actually a salmon color with yellow on the inside. A naturally occurring selection is just yellow. And, although it is widely planted due to its many endearing landscape qualities, in nature it is only found in a few places, mostly in Central Texas and Mexico.

Red Yucca is both heat and drought tolerant, making it a great xeric plant. It will begin blooming in early spring and continue on through summer. The blooms appear on 5 foot long flower stalks, with new flowers opening up as the season goes on. Hummingbirds love the flowers, and they are also visited by night-pollinating moths.

Red Yucca can get 4’ tall and just as wide. It grows slowly, but if a plant gets too large it can be divided in early spring. It needs a sunny, well drained location and is not subject to diseases. The only maintenance required is to periodically remove dried leaves.

Although deer do not browse the mature leaves, they readily nibble new growth and the flower stems. This is one of the reasons it is not frequently seen in the wild, and when it is found it is often among spiny shrubs which give it protection. It can easily be started from seeds, but is also widely available in nurseries.

Text by John Siemssen.  Photos by Sally & Andy Wasowski and Bruce Leander, Wildflower Center

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