Dasylirion Wheeleri Care: Growing Common Sotol

Dasylirion is a small genus consisting of 18 different semi-succulent species of plants. It comes under the family Asparagaceae. These plants are found along dry washes, arid lands and on rocky hillsides where the soil is porous and fast draining.

Dasylirion wheeleri is one of the species in this genus. It’s native to the arid lands of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. It’s a slow to moderate growing perennial shrub having a single trunk that has no branches. It’s upright sword-shaped leaves look stunning. There is an inward curvature at the leaf bases giving them their common name, desert spoon. The leaf blades are grayish-green in color. They are long, slender and have toothed margins.

Even though this plant looks ferocious upon first sight, you can tame it and use it to add an elegant effect to your gardens. Dasylirion wheeleri looks amazing as part of a desert-themed landscape or a xeriscape garden.

In this article, we will be giving you a complete roundup of everything you need to know to grow and care for this attractive evergreen succulent.

Dasylirion Wheeleri Overview

Close up of Dasylirion wheeleri leaves
Close up of Dasylirion wheeleri leaves. Source: Roan Fourie
Common Name(s)Desert spoon, spoon flower, or common sotol, blue sotol, grey desert spoon, spoon yucca
Scientific Name Dasylirion wheeleri
Family Asparagaceae
Zone8-10
Height & SpreadHeight of 16′ (5m) tall, 5 m (16 ft) tall, and 3 cm in diameter
LightFull sun
SoilLight and sandy to medium and loamy
WaterVery low
Pests & DiseasesRoot rot

Desert spoon, common sotol or the sotol plant (Dasylirion wheeleri) is a long-lived native of the Chiahuahuan Desert of northern Mexico. This evergreen succulent shows off its large rosette of serrated blue to grayish-green leaves radiating out in a circular axis from the tall stem. The leaf ends tend to become frizzy, adding an overall hazy texture to the plant.

Once the plant is mature, it blooms with a pole-like flower stalk. Flowering occurs only every few years with tiny flowers that grow in late spring to summer. The color of the flower indicates the gender of the plant. When flowering, the males grow creamy yellow flowers while females have purplish-pink flowers.

Dasylirion Wheeleri Care

The spiky, round sotol plant in its natural habitat
The spiky, round sotol plant in its natural habitat. Source:Brewbooks

Common sotol or spoon are slow-growing, durable, carefree and drought-tolerant plants that are native to arid lands and have a tall stem.

Here are some specific care requirements for this perennial succulent.

Light & Temperature

These plants are native to hot climates and they are sun-loving. Therefore, it’s best to grow the common sotol shrub in full sun. However, they can tolerate partial sun as well.

The plant falls in the USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11. They prefer higher temperatures but will show some heat stress above 100°F. The plants cannot stand very long periods of frost.

They should be grown in areas where the temperature doesn’t go below 50°F in winters. If you have them growing inside containers, move them inside during very cold spells.

Water & Humidity

This plant is drought-tolerant and prefers dry conditions so it has little watering needs. You have to water it regularly but sparingly, during summers as that ensures optimal growth. Don’t water the crown though as that may result in root rot. During winters you can reduce the frequency of watering.

Soil

Common sotol likes porous soils such as garden loam soil, sandy soil, etc. This is because they are fast draining. The preferable pH range for the soil is 6-7.

Fertilizer

You don’t really need to fertilize the plant. However, light spring fertilization with a balanced formula will ensure good growth.

Repotting

Since this plant cannot tolerate very cold winters, people often like to grow them in containers. If you’re doing so, make sure that the size of the plant is large enough. this is because Dasylirion wheeleri does not like to be transplanted or repotted often. Make sure that the container is well-draining.

Propagation

You can propagate the plant by seeds or by cuttings. However, growing it from seeds is quite a time-consuming process as germination and establishment are slow.

Pruning

Being a slow grower, the plant does not require pruning as such. You can remove dried spent flowers as needed. Prune out dried, yellow or senescent lower leaves any time of the year.

Troubleshooting

There are no serious growing problems with Dasylirion wheeleri. You just have to make sure that the soil in which they’re growing drains well. Chronically wet soil can lead to root rot.

Pests

There are no known issues of pests with this plant.

Diseases

The plant does not suffer from any particular disease. High humidity or wet soil can lead to fungal infection in some cases. It can be treated using fungicidal treatment and keeping the plant is well-aerated conditions with good soil drainage.

FAQs

Q. Do Dasylirion wheeleri plants flower every year?

A. No, these plants don’t bloom every year. They will produce flowers once every three to five years.

Q. Why are my Dasylirion wheeleri leaves turning yellow?

A. This usually occurs due to root rot as these plants are quite sensitive to moisture and humidity. Make sure you have planted them in a well-draining soil. Also, keep the watering frequency to the minimum. The soil should be completely dry in between waterings.


The common sotol is a striking and versatile plant that can uplift xeriscape landscapes and gardens. It’s beautiful gray-green color and spiky, yet the frizzy texture is emphasized when it’s planted alongside other softer shaped plants or ornamental grasses.

For a more contemporary look, you can plant it in staggered rows which will make the plant look great when it is flowering, due to the rosette color. However, give them room to grow and to allow adequate airflow between plants.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

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