Seventh Day of Christmas

By December 20, 2012 plants One Comment

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…seven spiky yuccas!

…six types of milkweed!

…fiiiive! naaaative! plaaaaants!

…four hummingbirds!

…three moorhens!

…two mourning doves!

…and a replacement for a Bradford pear tree!


Because it’s the internet, someone somewhere is already typing a comment informing me that the thing in the back is an agave.

Well, yes. I ran out of yuccas. So we’re going with “yuccas and plants sufficiently yucca-like as to make no difference to the layman.” Also, they’re all members of the Agavaceae family.

Yuccas are extraordinarily versatile plants. You’d think they grow only in deserts, but in fact, an extraordinary number grow here in the Southeast, which is about as far from a desert as you can get.

Some unknown yucca, for example, is growing right now on the edge of my pond…in moss. There is moss around the pond. There are yuccas sticking out of the moss. It is very weird and looks wrong, but the yucca seems happy so I am not interfering. (I got them as part of a six pack in the cactus & succulent section of Big Bloomers. It’s definitely some member of Clan Yucca, but I am unclear on the exact variety, since I lost the tag. I think it’s the straight species of Y. filamentosa, but I could be wrong.)

Most of my yuccas are in fact variants on Yucca filamentosa, also known as Adam’s Needle. It is pointy, and also found all up and down the eastern seaboard.  You have to give them pretty good drainage, but they’re not finicky. I also have “Golden Sword” a cultivar of Y. flaccida, which is very pretty, if unfortunately named.

Agaves are a little more touch and go here. I have Agave americana, which is quietly rotting, and A. parryi, which is not entirely sure about all this. I’ve seen enormous ones here, but they need absurdly good drainage and possibly some shelter from pounding rain.

Much happier in this neck of the woods is Manfreda virginica, or “Virginia false-aloe” which has the lovely yucca shape while also being from Virginia and the Carolinas, as well as farther south and west. There’s a marvelous cultivar called “Spot,” which is doing very well in my garden and producing numerous pups.

I am also quite fond of Eryngium yuccifolium, which has the marvelous name “Rattlesnake Master.” It’s not a true yucca but just kinda looks like them. The flower heads are masterpieces.

Finally—rounding out number seven—somewhere on the property is Y. aloifolia, “Spanish bayonet.” It’s native to here. I was happy to find it at the nursery. I planted it and then promptly lost it. It is somewhere on the property. (Is that it, by the frog pond? Or over by the rosemary?) The problem is that all these damn yuccas are pointy and angry and spiky and you tuck the tag under the plant so it’s not an eyesore and if you try to find the tag again, it involves groping around underneath the yucca, who is screaming “I WILL CUT YOU!” and going for your eyes.

Marvelous plants. But very spiky.

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