By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What is soapweed yucca? This distinctive member of the agave family is an attractive clumping perennial with grayish-green, dagger-like leaves that grow from a central rosette. During the summer, stout stalks lined with creamy, cup-shaped blooms rise 2 to 3 feet (1 m.) above the plant. Let’s learn how to grow a soapweed yucca.
The Native Americans of the Great Plains valued soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca), using it for aches and pains, sprains, inflammations, and also to staunch bleeding. The roots were used as a laxative and the soapy juice was an effective treatment for poison ivy and other minor skin irritations. The stout fibers were incorporated into sandals, baskets, brooms and whips.
Soapweed yucca, with a taproot of up to 20 feet (7 m.), is a hardy plant that stands up to drought, wildfires, and grazing. Although it is admired for its ornamental qualities, soapweed yucca can sometimes become a nuisance in pastures and rangeland.
Soapweed yucca requires well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Low light results in spindly growth and fewer blooms.
Allow plenty of space for soapweed yucca. The leaves are sharp enough to cut skin, so be sure to plant soapweed yucca safely away from sidewalks, driveways and play areas.
With regards to soeapweed yucca care, you’ll want to remove dead leaves in early spring. Pruning the yucca at this time will encourage new growth and tidier plants. Cut the stiff flower stalks when the blooms fade. Always wear long sleeves, long pants and sturdy gloves when working with yucca plants.
Soapweed yucca is drought tolerant but benefits from an inch of water every week to 10 days during hot, dry weather. However, if you forget to water, the plant will survive.
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Yuccas (Yucca spp.) are known for their extreme drought tolerance, sword-like leaves and bell-shaped flowers. Yuccas grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 11, depending on the species. While some of the 40 species of yucca have a treelike form, most are clumping, rosette-form plants. Yuccas can become invasive because the large rhizomatous root system quickly spreads, putting out new plants in undesired areas of the garden. The best way to remove these is to dig up the plant completely so you can also remove the root system.
Rake back any mulch or debris from around the plant base.
Water the soil deeply the night before digging to make the soil softer and easier to dig. Water in a circle about 3 feet out from the plant base.
Cut the sharp, pointed leaves and flower stalks back to the ground, using a pair of lopping shears. Wear thick gloves and protective clothing to avoid getting poked or scratched by the sharp leaves.
Dig a wide circle about 2 feet out from the plant base, using a spade to dig as deep as possible. Pull back on the shovel handle as you dig to pry the plant roots from the soil.
Pull the root ball out of the ground, keeping as much of the soil in place around the roots as possible. You can allow the plant to dry completely, cut it into smaller pieces and add it to your compost pile.
Dig through the soil with a garden hoe in the hole and surrounding area and pick out any remaining yucca roots. It is difficult to remove every piece of yucca root, so new plants might develop over time. Dig these small plants as they grow.
|Genus:||Yucca (YUK-uh) (Info)|
|Species:||glauca (GLAW-kuh) (Info)|
|Synonym:||Yucca glauca var. gurneyi|
|Synonym:||Yucca glauca rosea|
|Synonym:||Yucca glauca subsp. stricta|
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is resistant to deer
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Colorado Springs, Colorado
On May 16, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:
The toughest and hardiest yucca for the north and east (US). I also think it's quite ornamental. Adds an exotic note here.
The flowers are cream-white, usually unevenly tinted with green and sometimes dull pink. Unlike Yucca filimentosa/flaccida, flower scapes are usually unbranched. Individual rosettes/crowns die after flowering (are monocarpic), but the clump lives on as do the pups.
In some forms, the rosette is set on top of an above-ground stem (caulescent).
Within this species there's considerable variation in how sharp and dangerous the leaf tips are.
On May 16, 2015, Chillybean from (Zone 5a) wrote:
We planted the dormant bare roots in the fall of 2014. They arrived with some blades already formed. I put this in an area that should stay dry.
So far, there's not been much growth, at least above ground. They survived the winter, but so far have not thrived. I have some flaccid leafed yucca that's not native to Iowa, so I hope these glaucas can bounce to life. With my natives, I hand pull the grasses around them not trusting others to avoid chopping the plants with the mower or trimmer. Yes, the blades are enough to cut your hand!
On Jun 13, 2012, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
I was at a home showing with my realtor in New Franklin, PA when I saw a clump of three yuccas with narrow, grassy leaves and 1 to 2 ft tall trunks. I decided to head over here to ID them, and it looks like they are Y. glauca (Palm Bob's first pic is almost a dead ringer for them).
The garden they were growing in, like the house and much of the rest of the property, unfortunately, had been neglected for a number of years, but the Y. glauca was doing just fine! I decided not to buy the place (because the house was a dump), but I was half-tempted to take one of the Yucca plants. )
Therefore I'd say that they are quite hardy and seem to do fine with our typical not-so-well drained soils.
On Jun 5, 2009, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:
I have a soapweed yucca growing in my south-facing flowerbed. It seems to be doing well in the dry clay soil. Now in its second year, it's slow-growing and hasn't bloomed yet. I would expect it to take some time to get to an appreciable size, given our short summers and long, cold winters.
On Mar 22, 2009, bt18 from Union City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:
This yucca grows all over Oklahoma and is native to the area I live. The leaves are very tough and hard to cut especially with a dull pair of clippers. I have one I dug up just outside of town and hasn't bloomed since I have had it but it is much bigger than when I first got it.
On Sep 28, 2007, Cactusdude from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:
I Collected some plants in Montana when I lived there. When I moved to Miami, Florida the plants came with me.
They have been growing well in the ground for the past three years, but haven't bloomed. Guess that I will have to wait for a cold winter!
The species has an interesting spiky look in the landscape. I
think that it is quite attractive.
On Feb 8, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:
American Indians used the pounded root as a poultice on inflamations and to stop bleeding. They also used it as a shampoo to cure dandruff and baldness. The leaf juice was used to make poison arrows.
On Mar 31, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:
I disagree with palmbob--I find this yucca extremely attractive--attractive enough to merit an "ooh! what's that. " at our local arboretum and a quick trip to a nearby nursery that specializes in dryland plants. It's proven very hardy and very drought-tolerant.
This Yucca is native further north than any other. It grows into Alberta (and Saskatchewan), Canada (Which by the way is zone 3a, with occasional 2b winters. Despite common belief this Yucca does from a trunk. The trunk grows slowly to about 2 feet. It is not monocarpic, as parent plants set seed many times before dieing. I personally can vouch for flowering and seeding of the same plant for 5 seasons.
This is a much better plant than people give it credit for, and its hardiness is UNMATCHED among Yuccas, it is hardier even than Yucca filamentosa and flaccida.
On Mar 13, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:
Not a terribly ornamental plant- looks a bit like a clump of grass with slightly spiny ends. Common all over the south and midwest into the plains of the US.