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Tuesday - June 28, 2011

From: Rogers, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Will a gift yucca survive in Northwest Arkansas?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Had received a yucca tree as a gift and wondering if it will survive in the ground here in northwest Arkansas. It has a complete tropical look compared to my regular yucca plants. I believe it's actually called a yucca branch tree or a Joshua branch yucca. Just made a yucca garden and put it right in the center of about 20 yucca plants, planted on a windy hill with full sun. Your thoughts?...

ANSWER:

How was the gift presented? Was it in a pot, from a nursery? Perhaps it was intended as a house plant; yuccas are sometimes grown as house plants, particularly in parts of the country where it gets colder early and stays colder longer. However, they can grow quite large and that might not be practical for very long.

There is one yucca, the largest one native to North America, Yucca brevifolia (Joshua tree), that sounds like the name you were given for your plant. It is native to Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. We have a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question on growing this plant in California which you might want to read. There are 4 yuccas native to Arkansas: Yucca arkansana (Arkansas yucca), Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)Yucca glauca (Soapweed yucca) and Yucca glauca var. glauca (Narrow-leaf yucca).

Going on the premise that the yucca you received is, indeed Yucca brevifolia (Joshua tree), here is some of what our webpage (which read by following the plant link) says  on this plant: Grows from 5 to 40 ft. tall, only in the Mojave Desert at altitudes of 2000 to 6500 ft., blooms white from March to May.

Here is a comment we found in Dave's Garden on Joshua Tree. Remember Dave's Garden is a forum and the answers are undocumented opinions and comments of other gardeners.

"Spent a lot of time with the Joshua Trees living outside Death Valley in Nevada for some years. Now I have one growing in one of my xeriscape beds here in Arkansas and it's actually surviving, wet and cold haven't bothered it, though it is planted in a 50/50 gravel/sand mix on a southwest wall. Grew from seed years ago, now about a foot tall. You can grow almost anything from the desert anywhere, provided it's hardy enough, you give it amazing drainage and plenty of sun. Also have sagebrush, pinyons, and a hundred other things that don't grow naturally within a thousand miles of here."

On the same forum page, another correspondent said she was growing it in a pot in Oregon. According to this source, Joshua Tree grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 6a to 10b. Benton County, Arkansas appears to be Zones 5a to 5b.

Summary: We really don't know if your plant will survive. It sounds like you have already planted it and are just wondering.  Our suggestion is to run your own experiment and see if it will survive. Not only the temperatures but also the soils may be against you, and if you have already planted it, it is a little late to put decomposed granite in the soil for better drainage.

 

From the Image Gallery


Arkansas yucca
Yucca arkansana

Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

Soapweed yucca
Yucca glauca

Narrow-leaf yucca
Yucca glauca var. glauca

Joshua tree
Yucca brevifolia

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