Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Agaves, or century plants, are so gorgeous. Unfortunately they arenít hardy here in the eastern U.S. But we can grow various kinds of yuccas, which can serve numerous purposes in the landscape.
A number of species of yuccas are native to the eastern U.S. These are often found along railroad tracks, along roadways, and other waste places where the soil tends to be poor and dry.
So far as the pH is concerned, yuccas are easy to please. Iíve seen them growing in both acid and more alkaline soils.
As with most succulents, the one thing yuccas need is a sunny location.
So long as you give them enough sun and donít plant them in a perpetually wet spot, they should do just fine.
Yuccas are perfect for the low maintenance garden. They suffer from few insects or disease problems.
In addition, they are drought tolerant with very little water or fertilizer needed.
In the landscape, yuccas have so many uses. When planted en masse they make wonderful ground covers. They would even be suitable for hillsides and banks, and along the sides of steps where you donít want to mow.
Yuccas also make great accent or specimen plants. They also look very nice in mixed borders where they can be interplanted with flowering perennials and shrubs. When the plants arenít in bloom, you can rely on the attractive foliage to provide beautiful color year-round. Now that tropical plants are enjoying such popularity, the yuccas are ideal for this purpose. Their bold appearance lends an exotic touch to the landscape.
In case you arenít familiar with yuccas, they have sword or lance shaped leaves. The exact color of the foliage can vary somewhat from one species and variety to another. But typically they will be gray-green. The variegated ones are especially popular.
The whitish blooms, either cup or bell-shaped, appear on tall flower stalks.
The actual height of the plants varies widely. Shorter ones are considered herbaceous perennials, while taller ones are often classified as shrubs or trees.
Yuccas can be grown from seed, though they may sometimes be quite slow in germinating. They can also be grown from suckers or from root cuttings.
In addition to the eastern species of yuccas, there are numerous others native to the western and more southern areas. Exact hardiness depends upon the species chosen, but in general there are suitable ones for zones 6 through 11.