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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Wednesday - August 07, 2013

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replacements for yuccas from Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have lost some softleaf and variegated yucca to a beetle grub destroying the root system - like the Agave snout beetle does. I have put an insecticidal drench on my remaining plants, but suspect will lose some of them also. Can you recommend an alternative plant that will work in a xeriscape area and have a similar effect (size/shape) as these yucca so that I can replace them and maintain my design, please? (FYI - am a member of WFC)


The volunteer Mr. Smarty Plants Team members are also all members of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and we appreciate your joining us in our support of the mission of the Center.

You are posing us a tough problem - that of finding a plant very similar to a yucca, but not a yucca. Because we are not entomologists, we will first do a little research on what the offending insect is, and what he might tend to NOT eat. Most of the information we found referred to Halticoma valida, yucca plant bug. Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on that bug.

Since most plants that "look like" yucca are also members of the Agavaceae (Agave) family, which also would be susceptible to the Yucca plant bug, we turned to grasses or grasslike plants native in or near to Williamson County. From our list of Recommended Species for Central Texas we found:

Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol) (Map)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) (Map)

The Map link after each plant link is to the USDA Plant Profile Map on that plant showing where it grows natively in Texas. Both are evergreen and both are members of the Liliaceae (lily) family and are neither true grasses nor succulents, so they should not be bothered by the same pests as the Agave family. When you follow the plant link to our webpage on each plant you will see that both can be seen growing at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. You will also find the growing conditions for each, including amount of water needed, expected mature size and sunlight needs.

Since it is not likely you will find either of these plants at large commercial nurseries or home improvement stores, we recomend you go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zip code in the "Enter Search Location" box, press on GO and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area.


From the Image Gallery

Texas sotol
Dasylirion texanum

Texas sotol
Dasylirion texanum

Texas sotol
Dasylirion texanum

Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

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