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Rustic yucca for an exotic ambiance
Diversity within the genus Yucca is not well known to the general public and its use in the garden is rather limited because of the dangerousness of certain species of yucca. However, yucca is good outdoor hardiness, drought resistance, and persistent foliage are ideal for composing a sustainable exotic decor in the open ground or in a pot. So many reasons to adopt the “Yuccatitude”! Monocotyledon, formerly classified in the family LILIACEAE, the Yucca has been since 1985 attached to the family of AGAVACEAE but, unlike agaves, monocarpic plants, yuccas do not die after flowering. The genus Yucca comprises about 50 species and more than 150 hybrids come to expand the range of this xerophyte plant.
Originating from the American continent, they grow to the state spontaneous in various environments – mountainous, coastal, desert – and can undergo snow and cold enough intense, but still in dry condition. Some species grow beyond 2,500 m altitude. Few species are commercially available but over the last ten years, the yucca has come back on the market and its use in typical developments “Dry gardens” progress. Gardeners have a bad picture of yucca because they have in mind the aggressive bush of Yucca gloriosa or Yucca aloifolia. Yet, there are many less aggressive forms. The charm of Yucca rostrata and many others do not leave indifferent, especially as they are easily adaptable to the garden in however taking some precautions.
A xerophyte not so cold
Their resistance to cold is remarkable if the soil is well drained and stays dry in winter down to -30 ° C for Yucca glauca! On the outside, check that the roots are not stagnating water especially for the potted culture, otherwise, the combined gel moisture could be fatal.
Raised beds can be made to accentuate the draining. At planting, dispose of coarse elements pebble types, gravel at the bottom of the hole and dial a fair mixture of coarse sand, pozzolan, and frank earth to garnish the plantation pit. The collar must be kept dry, a 10 cm mineral mulch pozzolan can be placed on the surface for species sensitive to winter humidity. Even though yuccas are very resistant to drought thanks water storage present in the fleshy stems and the foliage, watering during the summer season is necessary the first years after planting, to ensure optimal growth. It is best to install them in the ground as soon as the Soil warms up, to facilitate their acclimatization. A hot and sunny situation is advocated, even if many species support the half-shaded situation at the expense of a less generous bloom.
A delicate toilet
Beware of interventions around yuccas, most species have aggressive, pungent foliage even cutting. Each leaf ends with a sharp point more or less dangerous depending on the rigidity of the foliage. The edge cutting thick and stiff leaves of the Spanish dagger (Y. aloifolia) makes it one of the most aggressive species, cut sharp ends and handle with care. It is recommended to remove old leaves from rosettes that have bloomed, which brings more aestheticism and secures the operations around the yucca.
A spectacular flowering and edible
Flowering usually occurs in early summer and some species bloom again in the fall. The floral spike information is often colored more pink or less supported. Then the panicle rises and opens gradually to make room for flowers in bells white or cream, sometimes tinged with brown. The perianth is composed of 3 to 4 white petals and as many slightly more colorful sepals on the back end with a dark point. Ovary in yucca is superb, unlike agaves (inferior ovary). The flowers, slightly nutty, are edible fresh in salad and can be used in donuts.
Specific pollinators absent in Europe
Fruiting rarely occurs in France because there is no insect adapted. In its original habitat, fertilization is carried out thanks to a primitive micro-Lepidoptera nocturnal, close to the moth, which carries pollen in his mandibles and lays his eggs at the base of the flowers, allowing the caterpillars to feed on a few seeds. The durability of both species is ensured.
The capsule-shaped fruits contain many black seeds. For seed multiplication, it will take about 5 years before the first bloom. Vegetative propagation (discards, cuttings of underground stems or stumps aerial) makes it possible to obtain young plants more quickly. Some variegated horticultural forms are multiplied in vitro.
The enemies of the yucca
Young foliage is sometimes attacked by snails. Better to intervene quickly, otherwise traces unsightly will persist throughout the season. They can also partially nibble the young flower buds, harming the beauty of future flowering. A bit of antilimace organic in spring and a manual fight will avoid easily this type of damage. Black aphids can also disturb the flowering.
For pot culture, beware of mealybugs with shells that are going to cause the withering of the plant. Regular manual crushing, followed by wiping leaves with a soap-soaked sponge black helps to fight effectively against this insect. At the end of the winter, as soon as the temperatures soften, black or brown leaf spots appear. This is a fungal disease due to the combination cold and winter humidity. The most leaves old people are the most affected, just cut them to restore a good pace and prevent the spread of the fungus. The rapid development of new leaves healthy will quickly forget this uncomfortable step.
Adopt the “yucca-titude”!
If you choose the right species and ensure a good drainage, cultivation is easy on the ground or in pots. In my private garden between Nantes and Angers (Le Fresnesur-Loire), I have thirty different taxa installed without winter protection. Association with ornamental grasses, some perennial or succulent plants under growing conditions close allows to highlight the graphics of this poorly known plant and realize original plant scenes for an exotic decor guaranteed!