Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Yuccas can be grown from seeds. The seeds are often planted during the spring. For best results, soak the seeds for 24 hours before planting. The seeds can also be scarified before planting. Rub them against sandpaper or other rough surface.
Typically, the seeds have a germination rate of 80 to 90%. However, this does vary from one species to another.
Seeds of tender species need a warm temperature—65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate. These should be planted indoors or in a greenhouse. For cold hardy ones, around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit is suitable. Germination typically occurs within one to two weeks. However, germination can be irregular, occurring over a period of a year or so.
The seed capsules start to split open when the seeds are ripe. When ripe, they’re black. Each seed capsule will have lots and lots of seeds. Typically, the pods start to ripen from mid-July onwards. Store the seeds in a dry place until planting time.
For hardy species, protect the seedlings from frost for the first year in a cold frame or other protected location. They’re ready to be planted out in the garden during the second year.
These plants go by several common names. These include Spanish bayonet, Spanish dagger, and dagger plant in reference to the shape of the leaves. The yuccas are in the Agave family.
The soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) goes by various other common names. These include Spanish bayonet, datil, and soap weed.
This species is native to a wide area from Utah and Arizona to New Mexico and southwest Texas.
In the landscape, yuccas are used as accent or architectural plants.
Yuccas have many practical uses. Soaptree yucca has long been used by Native Americans for various purposes. The roots, which are called amole, are used as a soap. The root has been taken for its laxative effect.
The flower stalks have been roasted and eaten as a vegetable. During times of drought, the flowering stems have been used as a livestock feed. The stems have also been chopped and added to animal feed at other times. The flowering stems are well liked by livestock. This also serves as a food source for various kinds of wildlife.
Other parts of the plant are eaten cooked or raw by humans. These include the blossoms and the buds as well as the emerging flower stalks.
The foliage is a source of fiber. This has been used to make burlap, sandals, and rope.