Yucca are sharp, tough and easy to grow

Being sharp is usually considered a complement. It implies the recipient of this assessment has the intellectual ability and the mental agility to handle the rigors of contemporary life with ease.

Sharp individuals anticipate coming events and prepare for them with preemptive actions which lead to a better than typical outcome. This proactive approach leads to an assured result which translates into a higher quality life.

Even when the unexpected does occur, the sharp individual is always ready with an excellent response followed by an effective offensive strategy. The preparation guarantees a long and prosperous existence with as few problems as possible.

Yucca WN 8-22-19 insert
Native yuccas, like this Spanish bayonet, are a low maintenance choice and easy to grow in the home landscape as an accent plant or hedge. The blooms are a popular gathering place for many insects.
Yucca genus

In Wakulla County’s native plant world the yucca genus established this practice long before people employed it. It also has the sharp pointy spines to accentuate its Yucca WN 8-22-19 insert 2image and enforce its tactics.

Local yuccas are perennial shrubs which may grow into small trees with irregular shapes. There are approximately 50 species in this genus worldwide on every continent except Antarctica.

Sword-like shape leaves

Their most obvious and notable feature making them easy to identify is their leaves. These are extremely elongated in thick clusters around the stems.

The sword-like shape is tipped with a hardened point which can quickly get the attention of anyone passing too close. The bristly structure of these evergreen plants gives them an intimidating appearance most animals and people will avoid.

Profuse fragrant bell-shaped flowers

The annual blooms appear at the top of these plants and protrude above the greenery. Honeybees and other pollinators will visit the profuse fragrant bell-shaped flowers to collect nectar and pollen.

In their native range, these plants are seen in sites where there is long exposure to the sun. They will not grow in heavy shade, and languish with little growth if there is less than six to eight hours of sun.

Sandy well-drained soils are the most likely locations where yuccas will prosper and grow. Their nutrient requirement are low, so they rarely display symptoms of a nutrient deficiency.

Likewise, their need for water is minimal. Once established they will easily withstand droughts and extended dry periods.

Adam’s needles and Spanish bayonets

The common species native to north Florida in this genus are Adam’s needles (Yucca filamentosa) and Spanish bayonets (Yucca aloifolia). These plants are similar in appearance, but each has distinctive traits.

Adam’s needles are the smaller and shorter of the two species. The multiple stems may reach three feet in height, but extend to over six feet when the cream color blooms appear in early summer.

The green leaves are pliable with white threads of fiber trailing from each. There is a variegated cultivar which is popular for landscaping projects.

Grow to over 15 feet

Spanish bayonets produce multiple trunks per plant and may grow to over 15 feet. They produce rigid dark green leaves projecting from the thick trunks and will impale any trespasser.

White blossoms appear in the center of the plant above the foliage from spring to late summer depending on several weather related factors. These yuccas have a high salt tolerance making encounters with wild specimens common to coastal areas.

Low maintenance alternative

Disease and insect problems are few for these hardy plants. Too much water resulting in excessively wet roots and extreme cold are the biggest problems.

For the sharp homeowner looking for a low maintenance alternative, these native plants make a pointedly good addition to the landscape. They also make a hedge which will blunt almost any intrusion.

To learn more about native yuccas in Wakulla County, contact the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or http://wakulla.ifas.ufl.edu/.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating



Posted: August 26, 2019

Category: Agriculture, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, HOME LANDSCAPES, Horticulture, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension,

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