Maintaining Red Yucca in the Arizona Landscape

Maintaining Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parvifolia) in the Arizona Landscape

Red Yucca is a really nice little plant with an interesting architectural form that attracts hummingbirds, survives on little water, tolerates high heat, requires minimal maintenance and packs a wallop of really attractive flowers. It starts to bloom in March and may continue to send up flowers into the fall.

Most resources describe Red Yucca as having a height of three to four feet and when mature, a spread of the leaves of up to six feet.  Once the plant exceeds its needed spread, it must be divided at the base.  This can easily be accomplished in one of two ways.

1) Dig up the entire plant, pull or cut apart all the individual plants, and replace one to three or more plants as desired back into the original planting hole. 

2) If digging up the entire plant is not feasible, then dig around the perimeter of the plant and remove as many plants as desired without disturbing the center clump.  Removing the outer plants down to a more manageable clump will leave a really good-looking plant that will not      need to be divided again for many years.                                                                                                                                                                                 

The plants you remove can be planted elsewhere or added to the compost pile.

Annual maintenance of Red Yucca consists of removing the spent flower stalks. 

· Cut the stalks as close to the base as possible if the stalks are still green and will not pull out from the base. 

· Stalks that are left on the plant until they are fully dead will easily pull out with a little twist. 

· Cutting the leaves back in an effort to reduce the overall spread of the leaves is a terrible idea.  The leaves will not grow back.  The only normal growth comes from the center growing points of all the plants within the clump and results in little tufts of growth all over the planting that looks worse than a bad haircut.

What this wonderful plant gives to us deserves our care in maintaining it appropriately.