Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Yellow-flowered "red" yucca

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Pale-yellow flowers in late Summer: Could there ever be too many?  This is the rare yellow form of "red" yucca, whose "red" flowers are usually a difficult-to-use fleshy pink.  But pale yellow goes with just about everything. 

 

Hesperaloe parviflora 'Yellow' is just as easy to grow (see "How to Handle it" below).  And it's just as popular with hummingbirds, who happily set side their usual preference for red and orange flowers, let alone the tricky salmon-pink blooms of the species.

 

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Native to the American Southwest, red yucca is care-free in hot and dry climates, even ones that are quite cold in the Winter.  The year-round precipitation of New England, though, feels like a swamp.  So I grow my "red" yuccas (which I have in yellow, fleshy-pink, and actual red) in pots that I keep dry and cool in the greenhouse over the winter.

 

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Summer flowers, and one of hummingbirds' favorites, too.  Red yucca's a must.

 

 

Here's how to grow this easy evergreen perennial:

 

Latin Name

Hesperaloe parviflora 'Yellow'

Common Name

Yellow-flowered "red" yucca

Family

Asparagaceae, the Asparagus family.

What kind of plant is it?

Broadleaved evergreen perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 10.

Habit

Clumping, with narrow grassy foliage and tall spikes of colorful flowers. 

Rate of Growth

Fast when happy.

Size in ten years

Three to four feet tall and wide; five feet tall or taller in bloom.

Texture

Grassy and yucca-like.

Grown for

its flowers: Although not large—an inch and a half—the pale-yellow narrow pendant bells are in thick clusters up tall narrow spikes, and are very showy over a long period, in bud as well as bloom.  Hummingbirds love them, too.

 

its foliage:  Thick clumps of narrow grassy evergreen foliage are excellent groundcover, and with good drainage in climates where Winters are cold but dry, have year-round effect.

 

its toughness: As long as Winter drainage is excellent, Hesperaloe needs only sun and, perhaps, some water to get established.  After that, no watering is needed.

 

its rarity: "Red" yucca's flowers are, actually, a somewhat difficult-to-use fleshy pink that's too salmon to go with true pink, yet too pink to go with reds and oranges.  This yellow-flowered cultivar significantly expands the design possibilities for this attractive and tough-as-nails perennial.

Flowering season

In-ground, an unusually long season: Spring into Fall.  Not as floriferous in containers; for me, bloom is August into September.

Culture

Full sun, excellent drainage, little water.  In the dry climates it prefers, red yucca is so-self reliant it's a regular choice for unirrigated highway medians.  One website said it was the most popular landscape plant in Tucson, Arizona.

How to handle it

Excellent drainage, especially over the Winter, is essential to hardiness, especially in Zone 7 and below.  Red yucca is so drought-tolerant that enriched soil isn't necessary and, in fact, could be harmful precisely because it would retain more moisture.  If your soil isn't naturally fast-draining, plant red yucca on a slope, or even just atop a gentle mound that you've redug with loads of sand and even gravel. 

 

Or grow it in a container. Even "hardy" plants are much less so when growing in containers, where their roots are also exposed to the same rapid temperature swings, day to night to day, of the leaves and stems.  In Zone 8 and below, bring potted red yucca into shelter for the Winter.  In a warm greenhouse it will keep active year-round, but it can also be kept dormant in a cool but sunny spot, where it should be watered only if leaves start to shrivel.

 

In containers, red yucca could need some supplemental water in very hot weather during drought; in-ground plants develop deep and wide-spreading roots that aren't possible when being confined in containers.  Fertilize in Spring and Summer to speed growth.

 

Clip off spent flower-stalks; remove spent foliage at any time.  That said, red yucca, though, is exceptionally low-maintenance.

Downsides

Sensitivity to Winter wetness limits in-ground use in other than "dry garden" settings where the plant is, otherwise, completely hardy to the low temperatures themselves

Variants

The species' flowers are variable, but are usually a fleshy pink that is difficult to combine with either pink, red, or yellow.  A newer cultivar, 'Perpa', is a vivid and true red—a welcome breakthrough.  There are a few other Hesperaloe species, either larger-scale or night-blooming, but none of which are so showy that they would be your first choice for a Hesperaloe.     

 

Availability

On-line and, where the local climate is such that red yucca is commonly planted, at retailers.

Propagation

By division.

Native habitat

Hesperaloe parviflora is native to northeastern Mexico and southwestern Texas.

 
 
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