The yucca rostrata is one of the hardiest types of trunk forming yucca plants. It is native to northern Mexico and southern Texas, USA, but is hardy to zone 5 if properly situated. It is slow growing, but easy care, perfect for xeriscape gardening. It does require some water, but does very well in areas with large amounts of water in spring and fall, with dry summers. It has the long, thin leaves with the sharp edges and points typical of yucca plants, but is more flexible than some types. It forms a pompom of these leaves on top of a trunk. The dead leaves drape down around the trunk giving it an appearance similar to that of “Cousin Itt” from the Adams Family.
Preferred Growing Habits
Yucca Rostrata, or the Blue Beaked Yucca, is hardy in USDA growing zones 5-10. It tolerates cold well, down to -10 degrees Farhenheit or -12 degrees centigrade. However, it does better if it is protected from the worst of the cold winter winds, and should be brought inside if potted. It can handle high temperatures and drought, but is happiest at an average temperature of around 75 Degrees Fahrenheit.
A sandy loam is a perfect growing medium for this desert evergreen. It likes alkaline soil that has a chance to dry out between watering, but has been known to tolerate slightly acid clay soils.
With good conditions with will grow to be eight to ten feet tall in ten years. That makes it a fairly fast-growing plant that goes very well with lower growing xeriscape plantings. It can be three to four feet wide, so be sure to allow it plenty of growing room.
It can easily be propagated from seeds or cuttings, and can be grown as a house plant. Be prepared, however, to “pot” this plant in a container that more nearly resembles a tub than your ordinary pot.
Interaction with Wildlife
Thanks to its tough, spiny nature yucca rostrata is resistant to deer and rabbits. It is, however, much loved by hummingbirds and bees, who delight in its large, white flowers. The showy blooms form on an upright spike that will grow three or four feet above the blue-green foliage. After blooming, it will develop the characteristic beak shaped fruit that gives the yucca rostrata its name.
The yucca is a member of the asparagaceae family, making it a relative of sorts of the Australian Dragon Tree, which is also a member of the asparagaceae. In fact, they bear a strong resemblance to each other, but the yucca’s downward growing leaves give its base a fuzzier appearance.
Easy Care Plant
The yucca rostrata is an extremely easy-to-care for plant. Once it is rooted, it does not usually need fed, or watered although it might occasionally need its lower needles trimmed. It is an attractive plant that is perfect for rock gardens, xeriscape gardening, Mediterranean Gardening or any kind of ornamental planting that you just want to stick into the ground and forget.
As a houseplant, it requires a little more care. As one gardener commented, when you put a plant in the ground, the plant can take care of reaching its roots for a little more moisture or a little bit different kind of mineral. But a plant in a pot has only the resources that you put inside the pot for it.
Potting Your Yucca Rostrata
There are many reasons for potting your yucca rostrata. You might have exceptionally harsh, wet winters or you might be in a rental, but plan to buy a home at a later time. The basic process for potting this yucca is not very different from any cactus or succulent.
A cactus soil mix should do very well for it, but mix a good bit of perlite into the soil to loosen it even more. Select a pot that is big enough to leave at least three or four inches on all sides of the root ball, and four or five inches beneath it.
If the pot does not already have good drainage holes, use an appropriate tool for the type of pot and create more drainage. Cover the holes with nylon screen or similar material to keep the soil from sifting out of it. Place some porous rocks, such as lava rocks in the bottom of the pot to prevent clogging, and sift in four or five inches of the potting mix. Gently place the plant on the soil, then add more potting mix around it, making sure that it works into the crannies of the roots so there won’t be any air pockets.
Finally, water the plant to finish settling the soil in around it. It is all right to get the soil fairly wet at this time, especially if you’ve done a good job creating drainage.
Re-potting will follow a similar process. Keep in mind that these plants are native to desert areas. You might need to water a young plant fairly often, but should always let it dry out between watering times.