Can You Xeriscape with a Yucca Plant

xeriscape with yucca

You would like to xeriscape your outdoor space, and the yucca plants have caught your eye. Is it possible to grow yucca in such a landscape? Only certain types of plants will survive and thrive in a xeriscape.

Yucca are considered a xeric plant, so that they will thrive in most xeriscapes. Xeriscape refers to plants that do not need large amounts of irrigation to grow to their full potential. Where you live will determine what types of plants can be grown.

Yucca makes an excellent xeric plant for the xeriscape system. But are yucca suitable for landscaping in all climates? What other types of plants would grow well with yucca? We explore the technique of xeriscaping with yucca.

Will a Yucca Xeriscape Grow In My Zone?

Before deciding on xeric plants for the garden, consider the U.S.D.A. planting zone. The United States has a variety of climates that determine the types of plants that will grow and thrive with minimal human intervention.

The United States is divided into thirteen different growing zones to help gardeners plant varieties of plants most likely to succeed in that environment. These thirteen zones are also divided into categories A and B to represent a five-degree temperature difference.

Different yucca varieties are hardy from zones 3 to 11. Most types of yucca can be found in planting zones 5 through 10. It is good practice to learn what your planting zone is before you begin your xeriscape. Here is the plant hardiness map. To find your exact planting zone, just type in your zip code.

Once you know your growing zone, you will be able to research the types of yucca that will thrive in your xeriscape. Let’s explore yucca varieties by their growing zone.

Can I Xeriscape Yucca in Zones 3 through 6?

There are a few yucca varieties that will survive these cold hardiness zones. In these zones, the temperatures can dip from zero degrees Fahrenheit to -40 below zero Fahrenheit. But there are some Yucca that are this cold hardy.

There is one yucca that is considered zone 3b cold hardy. It is the small soapweed yucca, growing as far north as Canada and south as the Texas panhandle. This yucca is small at just two feet in height (four feet when it is flowering), and it has a three foot spread.

If you live in zone 4, more yucca varieties open up for you. Types of yucca that can thrive in zone four include:

  • Yucca Nana, or Dwarf Yucca, is a sweet and very small species of yucca that grows extremely well in zones 4 and 5. It is endemic to the four corners region. This little yucca will reach a maximum height of one inch tall and just an inch in width. However, when it blooms, the flower stalk will shoot up to 3 feet.
  • Narrow Leaf yucca will grow in zones 4 through 9. It is low to the ground and reaches approximately one and a half feet at maturity. But, it is not a small plant, as its leaf rosettes can grow to ten feet in diameter. At maturity, whitish flowers will grow on a seven foot stalk.
  • Banana yucca grows in zones 5 through 9. They can be found from northern California into Texas. This is a beautiful plant with olive green leaves and edible fruits. It grows to 18 inches tall with a six foot spread. When the banana yucca flowers, it will send a flower stalk about 3 feet above the plant.
  • Spanish Bayonet does well in growing zones 6 through 11. The Spanish Bayonet yucca forms a tree-like trunk and can grow as tall as 15 feet and three-foot leaf spread. The Spanish Bayonet enjoys coastal areas from Washington State to Virginia. It also grows well in hot, dry climates.

It is possible to create a xeriscape that includes yuccas even if you reside in a climate that can get very cold. Make sure the yucca you choose is cold hardy to your winter temps, and plant it in very well-drained sand or rocky soil.

To create a yucca xeric garden in zones three through six, you need to remember that only a few yucca are extremely cold hardy. Where the xeriscape is planted will matter, as the roots of the yucca cannot tolerate soaking in water for long periods.

Can I Grow a Yucca Xeriscape In Zones 7 through 13?

Growing a yucca xeriscape in zones seven through thirteen is possible. Most varieties of yucca enjoy growing in zones 5 through 11. If there is sufficient sunshine and the yucca is planted in fast-draining soil, the yucca should thrive in these zones with minimal human intervention.

Growing a yucca xeriscape in these zones is usually very easy. There are so many varieties to choose from that you can create an amazing xeriscape using only yucca if you desire. You can plant yucca varieties that

  • Grow tall and tree-like, Such as the Green Desert Spoon yucca, which is very unique and ornamental. It grows to six feet in height. The leaves can be three feet long and have feathery tips. They make a dramatic appearance in the summer with a fifteen-foot flower stalk covered in small white flowers.
  • Low-growing yucca plants such as the Adam’s Needle also work well. These yucca do not grow a tree-like trunk, and they will produce a lovely flower spike that can be eight feet tall. The Adam’s Needle yucca will grow to about 4 feet in height and have a four-foot spread.
  • There are also colorful varieties of yucca like the Color Guard which is a variegated variety of the Adam’s Needle yucca. It maintains all of the characteristics of Adam’s Needle, except its leaves are striped with creamy white to green colors.

Another colorful choice would be Our Lord’s Candle. It has striking blue-green leaves that form two-foot-tall rosettes close to the ground. When it flowers, it makes a huge statement with a straight and tall towering flower stalk that is six to twenty feet tall.

These are only a few choices of the fantastic yucca varieties available. If you are going to grow a yucca xeriscape in an extreme landscape, for example, one that is very wet or very cold, we will discuss this in the next section.

Is Yucca a Xeric Plant In All Climates?

Though yucca is exceptionally hardy, there are a few climates where yucca will need human intervention and some irrigation. Still, other climates will not support yucca planted in the landscape. There are ways to incorporate yucca into the xeriscape.

Yucca is by far one of the best plant types for a xeric garden. However, if you are looking for a plant that you hardly ever need to water yourself, there are places even in the United States where this may be a challenge, at least initially.

One place with such extremes is Needles, California, in the Colorado River, Tri-state area. The natural landscape plants in this area mainly consist of

  • Chaparral
  • Cactus
  • Ocotillo
  • Mesquite
  • Palo verde.
  • Seasonal wildflowers such as the (desert lily)

When it is scorched, even the wild plants in the landscape will look as though they are dead or dying; a little rain usually brings them back to life.

There is little rainfall here, to begin with. The plants that are growing in this climate are extreme survivors. Summer temperatures can reach well over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This area receives about four to six inches of rain per year.

Needles is one of the driest places in the continental U.S. In 2020; Needles broke their record for the longest stretch without precipitation. This dry spell lasted for 210 days. They also have the record for the second hottest rainfall (115 degrees Fahrenheit), ever recorded worldwide.

If you want to grow yucca or any plant, in such extremes and have it look healthy and alive, it will need to be watered at least once a week.

Another extreme landscape for a yucca xeriscape may be in tropical regions such as zone 13, such as the Hawaiian coastal areas. In these zones, the temperature rarely gets below 55 degrees. It is, however, very humid and receives a large amount of rainfall.

In these areas, you can still grow a yucca xeriscape. You will probably never need to water it, but you do need to ensure the yucca is planted in a sunny location on high ground and very well drained soil. Yucca may grow faster and taller in these wetter conditions and mild temperatures.

If you live in zones 1 through 2b, you may want to try an indoor xeriscape landscaping theme if you have the room. Another choice would be to plant your cold-tolerant yucca in pots that can be moved indoors when the temperatures are too cold to survive.

In these frigid zones, your yucca may need you to help it by giving it artificial light and a heated area for them to grow their best. Providing artificial climate and lights for an indoor xeriscape may not be very economical. Still, it might be possible to replicate a southwestern garden that can cheer you in winter’s cold, dark months.

Other Plants that Complement Yucca Xeriscape?

There are so many plants that will accentuate the yucca in the xeriscape. These plants can be very similar to the yucca, such as Aloe Polyphylla, or they can be very different. Drought tolerant herbs like:

Many xeric plants will complement yucca in a xeriscape. Find plants native to your area or known to grow well in your particular planting zone. Choose plants that require little care to thrive.

Yucca Xeriscaping is a Desirable Way to Landscape

Yucca is one of the best xeric plants available. It grows nearly anywhere and requires little attention from the gardener. The yucca adds a sense of wonder to a xeriscape, especially if it is in a neighborhood where few yucca are displayed. Yucca is very versatile. You can pair yucca with other succulents and cacti or grow it next to a pine tree. How amazing it would be to plant as many types of yucca as you can find in a gorgeous yucca-only xeriscape. For many, this would encompass just about every yucca known to grow.

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