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Yucca gloriosa Variegata - the Spanish Dagger

One of the best of the Yucca group - not as untidy as it ages as some other Y. filamentosa group. It forms a stunning architectural shrub, which is best suited to the sunniest spot you can find. It will grow in virtually any soil - other than heavy clay, and its main requirement is plenty of drainage and not to be too wet at root level during the winter months.

Bright golden margins to the mid green dagger-like leaves. The leaves - as with all Yuccas - are very pointed and sharp at the ends. It is of course fully evergreen and hardy if planted in a dry situation.

The individual leaves can grow to around 60cm long - 2 ft. Not clump forming as with other Yuccas, but more of a branched shrub, with rosettes of foliage sprouting from main stem. Overall this Yucca can grow to 1.5m with a similar spread. The upright flower spikes are well above the foliage and can rise up to 2.4 meters - a spectacular sight in the late summer or even through to winter. As can be seen in the image the flowers are white but with pink-purple buds.

Spanish sword or dagger. Yucca gloriosa - the variegated type

Where and How to Grow Yucca gloriosa

Yucca gloriosa is suited to growing in patio pot, but be aware of the spiky leaves - especially with children to think about. The large head can make for a top heavy plant in a container, do either use a large container or have some way to make it stable so as not to fall over and damage anything. This Spanish Dagger is best planted in full sun, but also tolerates dappled shade - even for growing below large deciduous trees such as Oaks!

If growing on a busy patio - or near a walkway, the 'dagger' sharp points of the leaves can be clipped with shears. Sounds horrific, but may be necessary for safety when mature.

Spanish Dagger is the type of plant that needs its own 'space' where it can show off its wares - foliage, flowers and general 'attitude'! It is not one to be mingled or surrounded by other shrubs. As it is reasonable bare at ground level - in the early stages - consider planting some low growing complimentary plants. Some of the large coloured foliage Sedums spring to mind, but so do the French Butterfly Lavenders. It is the type of plant that needs thinking about to show it off well.

It will eventually become multi-stemmed - sometimes from the base, or branching out from main trunk. It often suckers from the roots. Bear this in mind for long term planting. It really does need space for development, and will repay you handsomely. 

It is very tolerant of salt water spray, so ideal for planting as a seaside specimen.

Propagation of Yucca gloriosa

This yucca is easily propagated by 'root cuttings' in mid winter, but also can be propagated from the sprouting 'toes' from the roots. Allow them to grow for a season, and then they can be cut back to the root - with roots attached in early spring or late autumn.

Pests and Problems of Yucca

The main problem arises out of planting it in the wrong place! Yucca does not easily transplant - though they can be.

Other than greenfly on the flowers sometimes, they have no real problems to worry about.

Leaf spot fungus might be troublesome. in which case keep a lookout for the browning spots and treat as soon as possible with general fungicide.

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By David Hughes - info@gardenseeker.com 

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