Yucca plants take time to grow, but worth itPart of the joy of gardening involves trying out new plants and being rewarded with a successful venture. Some of these rewards come within the first growing season and others take many years to display their fine qualities. Many, that take patience, usually put on a show that can be quite stunning.
By: John Zirovski, The Jamestown Sun
Part of the joy of gardening involves trying out new plants and being rewarded with a successful venture. Some of these rewards come within the first growing season and others take many years to display their fine qualities. Many, that take patience, usually put on a show that can be quite stunning.
Six years ago, I planted a seedling yucca plant that was about three inches tall. It sort of resembled a wide-leafed grass appearing from the garden floor. In the first year it grew to about 5 inches tall and equally as wide. With images of grandeur dancing in my head, I thought within a couple of years I would be rewarded with a beautiful flower spike. Much to my dismay, this did not come quickly.
In the fourth growing season, it was nearly 18 inches tall and wide. After the winter had passed, I thought I had lost it this time around due to root rot from the cool wet spring, but soon it decided to come through and grow. Still there was no flower spike for the season. During its fifth year, it came through the long, hard winter well, but still it did not send up a flower spike. If it hadn’t turned out to be such a healthy plant, I would have been ultimately discouraged.
This year was its sixth growing season and I watched it closely. While I noticed other yucca species in town develop their flower spikes and begin to bloom, mine only created leaves. Feeling another season of defeat underway for this flowerless plant, I accepted the fact and continued working in the garden with some of the other blooming plants that needed my attention.
In mid-June, I was working on a new project and happened to look at this yucca plant in the background. All of a sudden, I noticed a change and nearly dropped to the ground in amazement. The yucca plant of six years was finally sending up its first flower spike I had been waiting so long to appear. Right at the tips of the leaves was a central shoot that resembled a thick spear of asparagus coming up about the thickness of a thumb. The time had arrived that I was finally going to see this plant bloom for the very first time.
As the weeks passed, the elongating stem began developing short little branches covered in small buds. Eventually there were as many as 100 new buds on the stem that had reached nearly five feet tall. Within the first week of July, the creamy white bell-shaped flowers began to open from the central region. Each flower had six delicate lance-shaped petals emitting the scent of fresh smelling bath soaps. As more flowers began blooming, it became a glowing candelabra of hanging bells that scented the humid evening air.
After six years of waiting, my yucca plant had finally rewarded me with the display of flowers that was well worth the wait.
Yucca plants enjoy a hot and dry location with a sandy soil. Mostly native to the Southwest and Central American regions, some will grow as far north as the Dakotas. Most yucca plants in the state of North Dakota are known as Soapweed Yucca or yucca glauca. Its leaf rosettes create leaves about 18 inches long, which are rigid and sharp to the touch. You don’t want to fall into one of these plants or trip over one at night as you may poke your eye out! Most are common to the Badlands of North and South Dakota and some are planted in residential landscapes.
Another common yucca of the Southwest is known as the Joshua Tree or yucca brevifolia. These get quite large and are a protected species. This selection usually grows actual trunks and stems with numerous floral spikes.
The yucca filimentosa is most commonly grown in the coastal sands regions, but is also hardy in our area as long as it is not in a wet, heavy soil.
The yucca plants of the prairies where commonly referred to as the Ghosts of the Graveyards as they were commonly seen growing in the graveyards of the West. At night, their stems of flowers seemed to glow above the foliage like a floating apparition.
Yuccas always get noticed in the landscapes while in bloom, as they are not a common landscape plant. As with many plants in the garden that get noticed, it is the unusual and spectacular that receive the most attention.
This week is the annual AAUW Garden Tour. It will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. This tour will feature four unique and interesting gardens in the area along with mine. This is the perfect opportunity to get outside on a beautiful summer evening to view some new and exciting ideas. Even if you are not looking for a new project, it will fill your evening with the peace and relaxation that only a garden tour can offer.
Invite a friend along and share a conversation or the perfect photo moment in a unique garden setting. It is a good time to share ideas with the featured gardeners and find out what techniques works for some and which ones work for others. Even as the garden editor, these tours teach me new concepts in design and plant layout. Each and every gardener has success and failure stories to share. Without these stories, we would all be on our own in our journey through gardening. We learn from each other so we can grow more within ourselves and develop our ideas to a new level.
You can purchase your tickets at Don’s House of Flowers, Country Gardens, The Arts Center, Don’s Garden Shop on Business Loop East, The Buffalo Mall, Lloyds Toyota and The Garden Gate. Advanced tickets will be $8 each and $10 the day of the tour. Grab a friend and have an evening of fun and enjoyment and bring lots of questions to ask the various gardeners on the tour as they would be more than happy to share some stories of their own. Have fun and we will see you there!