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Xeriscape Gardens

Yucca Rostrata Care: Growing Blue Beaked Yucca Plant


8 min read

Yucca rostrata is just as unique as its name. Native to Western Texas and Northern Mexico, this tree-like yucca is an ornamental and slow-growing evergreen, perfect as a xeriscaping plant. Known to be one of the toughest trunk-forming yuccas, Yucca rostrata is drought-tolerant and a popular garden attraction in the UK, US, and Canada.

The plants form a dramatic, shimmering rosette over the tree trunk in your garden. Covered with pale gray fibers of old leaves, the rosette displays a silvery haze. Yuccas can reach grow up to 15′ feet tall and are an excellent candidate for rocky slopes, canyon bottoms, and ridges.

Quick Care Guide

Beaked yucca flower spike
The impressive flower bloom of beaked yucca. Source: HorsePunchKid
Common Name(s) Beaked Yucca, Beaked blue yucca, Big Bend Yucca, Adam’s Yucca, Nordstrom’s Yucca, Silver Yucca, yucca rigida
Scientific NameYucca rostrata
FamilyAsparagaceae
Height & Spread6-15′ tall and 4-10′ wide
LightFull sun
SoilWell-draining, acidic soil
WaterLow
Pests & DiseasesAgave bugs, aphids, mealybugs, scale, mites

All About Yucca Rostrata

Yucca rostrata, known commonly as beaked yucca or Big Bend yucca is a trunk-forming yucca that is native to the Big Bend region of West Texas, Chihuahua and Coahuila, where it grows in desert conditions, where sandy soil and distinct daytime and nighttime temperatures reign.

Hailing from the family of Asparagaceae, Beaked Yucca is extremely tolerant to heat, drought, and frost. It can withstand temperatures as low as -10° degrees Fahrenheit. It offers a striking focal point in gravel gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and borders.

Yucca rostrata has sharp-tipped, bluish-green leaves that sprout from the trunk, resembling a symmetrical pom-pom. It produces yellow-orange flower stalks in late spring that bears beautiful clusters of white flowers. They can easily thrive on neglect with full sun and well-drained soil.

The plant is naturlized and adapted to other regions, including New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. These yuccas grow there up to 15 feet tall, and attract hummingbirds and yucca moths while in bloom.

Types of Yucca Rostrata

There are over forty yucca species. Yucca rostrata, or Big Bend yucca is often confused with a similar member known as Yucca rigidia, which is a slow-growing, medium-sized tree-like yucca, native to Mexico. Yucca rigidia is commonly found in nurseries where xeriscape plants are sold.

Yucca rostrata also has a cultivar called “Sapphire Skies” that produces creamy-white flowers between mid to late summer. It can grow up to 5′ feet tall and resemble a palm tree. The cultivar likes full sun and dry soils, as do all other yucca species.

Beaked Yucca Care

Yucca rostrata grows huge
Yucca rostrata’s size is a sharp contrast in your landscaping. Source: M. Martin Vicente

Yucca rostrata adds bold beauty of your garden. Deer and rabbits are not attracted to it. Here are the guidelines to grow these plants well.

Light & Temperature

Big bend yucca needs to grow in full sun for best results. Place it in a well-lit spot in your backyard. As a winter hardy plant, it’s suited to USDA Zones 5 through 11. While this yucca tolerates heat with no issues, it will need protection in times with consistent temperatures below -10°F (-23°C).

Container-grown yuccas need to be wrapped and covered in continuous sub freezing temperatures. Give your in-ground plantings a thick layer of mulch to protect roots from cold, and cover them with a frost blanket or sheet in these conditions.

Water & Humidity

Big Bend yucca needs regular watering — once a week — while it’s growing in summer and spring. Water it as soon as the soil looks dry. However, don’t drown the roots in excess moisture as the plants thrive well in dry soils. As soon as the temperature drops in fall and winter, cut down the watering to once a month.

Soil

Silver yucca prefers dry, well-drained soil that is either neutral or alkaline, but if you only have slightly acidic soil, don’t fret. It can handle a wide pH range if necessary. Sandy soils are best, as yuccas don’t need nutrient richness in their growing media.

Container plants thrive with a mix of succulent or cactus soil, and a small amount of perlite for extra drainage. Of course, as we’ve mentioned, well-draining soil is a must, and a layer of mulch will protect in-ground plantings in areas with cold winters.

Yucca Fertilizer

Fertilizer isn’t necessary. However, if you want to boost plant growth, add a balanced, time-released fertilizer during spring. Water well afterwards. Do not add more than this, as your yucca plants (including Yucca rigida) won’t perform well with too many nutrients.

Repotting Yucca Plants

Before you decide to repot your yucca plants, don yourself with a long-sleeved shirt, pants, thick gloves, and eye protection. The leaves of the plant are heavily spiked and can hurt you! So prepare yourself, and ask a friend or family member for help if necessary. You can use this same process to repot Yucca rigida as well.

When repotting, use a container at least 2-4″ inches larger and cut off 1-2 inches of the root mass. Prepare a container with good quality potting soil, and place the beaked yucca plant in it. Add more soil beneath the root ball until the base of the stalk is at the same level as the rim of the pot. Add the remaining soil and press it down. Since it’s a slow-grower, the plant doesn’t need frequent repotting.

Yucca Rostrata Propagation

These plants can be propagated via stem cuttings and seeds that result from their fragrant clusters of white flowers. However, since they grow slowly, seedlings take longer to germinate. Add the seeds in well-drained soil and place them in a well-lit spot. Keep the soil evenly moist until they start growing.

If you’re taking stem cuttings, snip off 3-4″ inches of the plant as cutting and remove the top few leaves to reduce excess moisture. Place the beaked yucca plant in a cool place for 4-5 days. Once the cutting is fully dry, place the cutting in a container with potting soil and indirect light. It will take about 3-4 weeks for the roots to grow. Keep the soil evenly moist until germination.

Pruning Yucca Rostrata

You can prune off the dead, brown, and old leaves during spring. It is probably best to remove these with gloved hands, by simply pulling down on the leaves you’d like to remove.

Troubleshooting

Beaked yucca is a drought-tolerant, sturdy plant that requires low upkeep. However, it is susceptible to a few pest problems. Let’s learn about them.

Growing Problems

As a winter-hardy, tough plant, Yucca rostrata rarely ever has any growing problems. However, make sure not to overwater as that can lead to root rot, yellow leaves, and spongy trunk. Always drain the soil well and hydrate only when the soil is dry.

Pests

Beaked yucca is susceptible to red spiders. To keep them away, spray water on the leaves during dry seasons and regularly clean the dust off the leaves. You may also encounter spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and aphids. Water treatments work for these too.

You can manually remove scale insects, including mealybugs with an alcohol-soaked q-tip. Wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth to remove spider mites.

Diseases

Yucca rostrata plants are virtually disease-free. However, avoid over watering as it leads to root rot. You may be able to treat a yucca with a few rotten roots by avoiding watering until the soil is completely dried out. More severely affected plants might be able to be treated through planting them in fresh media after rinsing their roots.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How fast does Yucca rostrata grow?

A: The plant is a slow-grower, it takes about 10 years to reach its max height. Eventually it becomes a major focal point in your garden.

Q: Why is my Yucca plant dying?

A: The most common culprit is over-watering, which causes a spongy trunk and pale leaves. For rapid recovery, increase the drainage in the container / ground or allow the soil to dry out completely.

Q: Can Yucca rostrata grow in colder regions?

A: Yes. Yucca rostrata plants are winter-hardy and can survive in temperatures as low as -10°F (-23°C).

Q: Can Yucca rostrata grow in shade?

A: This yucca can deal with a little bit of partial shade as long as it receives at least 3 hours of direct sun per day.

Q: Is Yucca rostrata hardy?

A: Especially in zones 5 through 11, it’s hardy! Give it a little bit of protection in colder regions with consistent temperatures below -10°F (-23°C).

Q: Can you grow Yucca rostrata indoors?

A: You can. Young plants are better candidates for indoor growing, as more mature yuccas are large and spiky. Overall, this yucca is better for outdoor plantings.

Q: Are Yucca rostrata fast growing?

A: In fact, they are slow growers. Maturity comes in about 10 years of life.

Q: Can yucca be left outside in winter?

A: Yes. Established plantings can take temperatures down to -10°F. When it’s consistently below that temperature, protect your beaked yucca plant.

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