Rarely do I find a flowering plant that I do not like. The yucca, pronounced YUCK-a, is one plant that I do not want in my flower garden. I co-existent with one such plant, partly out of guilt of wanting it gone and partly because I was unsuccessful at making it “gone.”
Yucca in General
The yucca’s sword-like leaves are over a foot long and poke out of the ground like a porcupine, ready to scratch anyone who comes too close. That bush of swords is about three feet in diameter with a base of about two feet. To get an idea of what the yucca bush portion looks like, imagine a vase crammed full of just iris leaves. Now imagine the vase is two feet in diameter and those iris leaves are one to two feet long, so sturdy that they cannot be torn by hand, and have sharp edges and a wicked points.
Each spring, from the nasty yucca base a shaft will grow at outstanding rate. Reaching 12 feet in less than two weeks, this single spear looks ridiculous in its location with one to three foot tall flowering perennials. Aside from its incredible height, I’m fostering an English flower garden and the desert characteristics of the yucca just don’t fit in.
A Little History about the Yucca and Me
The yucca was in the yard when I moved here. The first year I lived here, having never seen a yucca before, I found it … interesting. There is a profusion of flowers around mid-June at the top of the long shaft. Those flowers hang down like fist-size white bells. The silhouette of the mass of blooms resembles a Christmas tree. Perhaps my love of Christmas is what gave this plant its reprieve to return yet another year. The second year here, that dang yucca was like a thorn in my side, and I mean that literally when I was trying to weed and thin out the flowers growing near it. I just didn’t like the yucca, I tell ya; I just didn’t like it. After the yucca finished blooming that second year, I used tree loppers to cut down the shaft, which, by the way, is about an inch in diameter and very sturdy. And then I did it, I made the decision that enough is enough. I grabbed the spade and went to work on getting the dang plant out of my flower garden. I also cut the shaft in two and used it to brace tomato plants.
I can laugh about it today, but that was one frustrating day. The roots seemed to go on and on, both down and horizontally. Little yucca-ettes were coming up as far as three feet from the base. Guilt overcame for having taken the life of a healthy plant. At the same time, my mind was imagining what plants I would put in its place next spring.
Reviewing my garden journal, I see that the third year here, getting a late start on outdoor spring cleanup, I found, much to my chagrin, that the dang plant was re-growing. Now, I could have gotten assistance from my husband to eradicate the yucca. He did, after all, remove an overgrown hedge of boxwood at my request. But I felt compassion for the poor plant. I don’t water it or fertilize, yet it keeps coming back, year after year. It is certainly determined to survive. More accustomed to dry, arid regions, I can see that by not watering it, I was probably contributing to its success.
I have since found out that there is little that can be done to get rid of yucca, at least not without killing everything within a 1/2 mile radius. It’s been ten years now and that spear of flowers is blooming, again. And I’m letting it bloom, again.
We have a truce.