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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 1:21 PM

Edith on the Red Yucca

Edith on the Red Yucca
by Edith Isidoro-Mills —  There it was! That plant that I have seen growing in many xeric gardens around the Southwest and this particular plant was growing in Fallon, Nevada.  The plant I was so excited to see is Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parvifolia.  I found it growing in planters at the Fallon campus of Western Nevada Community College and the Fallon Convention Center.Red yucca is not a true yucca.  Instead it is related to the century plant, Agave americana.  Still it has leaves more similar to a yucca.  It is the flowers of red yucca that more closelyresemble the flowers found on century plants.  Red yucca has long narrow leaves, like a narrow leaf yucca and sends up multiple flowering stalks of red flowers.  It can reach 3 to 5 feet in height and have a diameter of several feet. Red yucca is native to Texas and northern Mexico.  Only in the last couple of decades hasit become popular in xeric gardens of the Southwest.  My recent observation of this plant in Fallon is my first and all the literature I had read before said it might not be hardy in Fallon because it was only supposed to be hardy to 0oF.  High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico where most winters can see temperature below 0oF planted some of this plant outside their greenhouses in a display garden.  These plants have been there for a number of years and survived a periods of subzero weather not uncommon in Santa Fe.About five years ago at a Garden Writers’ Symposium, someone gave me Red Yucca to try in my garden in Fallon.  I planted them that fall and never saw these Red Yucca plants again.  After reading the comments in the reviews of this plant on the High Country Gardens website, I now know what happened to my plants.  The rabbits or the deer that frequent my garden probably ate them to the ground.  Indeed, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, located in Texas where Red Yucca is native, mentions that deer like to browse the leaves and hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers.  One gardener who purchased Red Yucca left a review in High Country Gardens suggesting rabbits also love this plant.If you have a planter like the ones at WNC and the Fallon Convention Center or have a yard well protected from rabbits and deer, Red Yucca could be an excellent, low maintenance plant for you to plant.  It is extremely drought tolerant and heat tolerant.  Bird watchers will want to plant it where they can look out a window and watch the hummingbirds because the flowers will attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  Don’t rush to cut down the stalks after the blooms are spent because fruit of this plant is attractive to other birds as well.Fallon is still a lot dryer than western Texas and northern Mexico where Red Yucca is native so you will need to water it some but don’t add too much water.  You will also want to find a sunny place to plant Red Yucca because it is native to a desert region with few trees.In late winter before the next season’s stalks start to appear, trim back the previous season’s stalks and any dead leaves.  That is all the maintenance this plant requires.  It does send out pups from the base. These pups, when removed from the parent plant, will root to start new plants.  Red yucca also readily propagates from seed.     Never miss the local news — read more on The Fallon Post home page.