Dixie Gardening: Consider the lovely yuccaIn Spanish, the chaparral yucca has the loveliest of names: candelabra de dios, or candles of the Lord. This yucca, with its outstanding creamy bell florets appearing on almost wooden stalks that can grow up to ten feet tall, is a show stopper. They can last for up to six weeks and are extremely fragrant. Its leaf tips are very sharp, so be careful where you plant this type. You can take a pair of nail clippers and clip the tips for safety. Just a small snip will do it. I have learned by experience that this yucca dies after blooming but releases seeds. New plants will come from the seeds and may or may not bloom every year. Last year was my show year for our Lord’s candle, but you can gather extra off shoots and place them in a gallon pot and grow them inside during the winter near a sunny window. You will have new plant next year, courtesy of Mother Nature,

Since yuccas can tolerate the dry heat, they do excellently here in our environment. They do best in well-drained soil but will adapt to poor, rocky soil. Deep watering, spaced in far-apart intervals, is the best way to go. And all yuccas truly add a showy backdrop to agaves and other desert succulents as well as other cacti groupings. They are valued for their ability to bind sandy soil and withstand high winds once established.

There are many fun types of yuccas. I find that the banana yucca, from southwest New Mexico, is slow to grow here but gets from three to five feet wide. The leaves are a noticeable bluish and yellow color with fibers that dangle from the leaves. But the super cool part is that they produce beautiful red-brownish flowers in the spring and summer and grow fleshy, edible banana-like fruits about six inches long. I have plans to plant one this year to accompany my new agave. Sometimes your local nursery runs out of them but should be able to order them upon request.

There are more than just these two spectacular yuccas. With so many other fun varieties, one could strictly plant a garden of various yuccas sure to be a topic of discussion for your neighbors and friends.

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