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Hesperaloe (commonly known as False Yucca) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. The species are native to the arid parts of Texas in the United States and Mexico. The genus name is derived from the Greek word "hesperos", meaning "western", and "aloe", which the plants resemble.
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The genus Hesperaloe is a small genus of just 7 species that are related to aloe, yucca, and agave. All 7 species of hesperaloe are native to the Chihuahuan desert in the southern US and the area around Coahuila in northern Mexico.
The "red" part of red yucca is the flowers that appear on spikes held well above the foliage during summer. Hesperaloe flowers are tubular too, just the way hummingbirds like them. Unlike agave and yucca, hesperaloe leaves do not have spines and are better for tight spaces or gardens that have children and pets running through them. Hesperaloe clumps are packed densely with narrow leaves and from a distance look like ornamental grass.
As with all desert plants, hesperaloe must have full sun and excellent drainage, especially in winter, to prevent root rot. They are also salt tolerant plants. Try pairing hesperaloe with other drought-tolerant colorful plants such as alstroemeria, crocosmia, and gaura to create a drought-tolerant wildlife haven. When you are ready to buy hesperaloe for your garden, check out our online offering of hesperaloe for sale.
The genus Hesperaloe is a small one, with 5 species and one additional subspecies, and they are all native to northern Mexico, with one extending across the border into central Texas. They are members of the Agave Family (Agavaceae), which in some classification systems is treated as a subfamily (Agavoideae) in the Asparagaceae.
The best-known species in Hesperaloe is Hesperaloe parviflora, which is a widely used landscaping plant in the southwestern U.S. Its tubular red flowers resemble those of an Aloe, and this is the reason for the genus name, with Hesperus referring to the Evening Star, since these plants occur in the Western Hemisphere, unlike the true aloes. The resemblance is the result of convergent evolution, since Hesperaloe is actually related to Yucca and Agave rather than to Aloe.
Hesperaloe tenuifolia has a very localized distribution in southern Sonora in northwestern Mexico, where it grows in hilly terrain in pine-oak forest at about 5,000 feet altitude (1500 m). It was discovered relatively recently, and was given its scientific name in 1997.
The leaves of H. tenuifolia are blue-green, narrow, and up to 3 feet long (.9 m). The newer leaves at the center of the rosette are upright, with the older leaves on the outside arching gracefully outward. Fine fibers curl from the edges of the leaves. Plants make occasional offshoots from the base to form a small clump in time. This species is smaller, finer-textured and daintier than the other species in the genus.
As with other species of Hesperaloe, H. tenuifolia has a long flowering period, beginning in the spring and continuing on through to the fall. Its slender flower stalk is up to 70 inches tall (1.8 m), with a few small side-branches. Each side branch, and the upper part of the main stalk as well, has attractive pink buds, which open at night into white-faced flowers about a half-inch across (13 mm). There are 6 petals (properly, these should be referred to as “tepals”, a term used when it is hard to say what is a petal and what is a sepal), and these curl outward to show off the yellow pollen at the center. Although the flowers do not usually stay open in the middle of the day, their pink outsides remain an attractive feature. Rather than opening in sequence from bottom to top, as with an Agave inflorescence, the flowers of H. tenuifolia open in no particular order, and there are seldom more than a few open on any given day.
The fruit of Hesperaloe tenuifolia is a dry woody oval capsule, with a rough texture due to bumpy transverse ridges. Eventually, the capsule splits along its seams to spill the flat black seeds.
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
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)
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling
Pollen may cause allergic reaction
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed sow indoors before last frost
Allow pods to dry on plant break open to collect seeds
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Surprise, Arizona(2 reports)
China Lake Acres, California
Huntington Beach, California
Lucerne Valley, California
Mountain View Acres, California
Vista, California(9 reports)
Las Vegas, Nevada(2 reports)
Albuquerque, New Mexico(3 reports)
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
High Rolls Mountain Park, New Mexico
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Greenville, North Carolina
Prosperity, South Carolina
Fort Worth, Texas(3 reports)
San Antonio, Texas(9 reports)
Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Lake Forest Park, Washington
On Oct 3, 2020, Rests from Bryan, TX wrote:
I have this growing in a pot next to the garage on the driveway. During the summer, it can get over 120 degrees in that spot. It thrives! Haven't had any blooms, but that it just fine. Looks great without the blooms. Besides, I really don't like the color red at all. Water about once a week to keep it looking good, but it has gone without water for over 2 weeks without affecting it much. Give it a big A++.
On Jun 24, 2016, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:
This plant has been very easy to grow here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7). I have several that have always remained evergreen and healthy even in the record cold winters of 2014-15 with temps near 0F on many consecutive nights. Usually desert plants in this area eventually die in a wet winter, however red yuccas seem to have a pretty decent moisture tolerance. This area has experienced very wet winters lately and most of my desert plants died however these did not and looked great. The only problem I have had with these is that I have not seen any flowers on them in 3 years. I do not know why. The plants look healthy and are continuing to grow but still no flower stalks. Good thing they look interesting enough without them.
On May 21, 2015, 2QandLearn from Menifee, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
Hesperaloes are neither in the Aloe nor Yucca families . . .
but rather, they are in the Agave family of plants.
I very much enjoy watching Hummingbirds at their flowers, and am in the process of planting a few more in pots, as our yard is flat, with heavy clay soil . . . and I want to be sure that they will not get waterlogged!
Hoping to find a yellow one, or maybe some cultivars that I've heard tell of . . . if they are as hardy as the originals.
On Dec 6, 2014, CreekerTom from Goose Creek, SC wrote:
Recently brought quite a few seeds home after a trip to Texas. I think all have germinated. Am anxious to see how this plant does in the hot, humid South Carolina Lowcountry.
On Apr 15, 2014, Martynt from Truro,
United Kingdom wrote:
I have this plant in a very well drained raised bed with other Yucca and although it flowered for two or three consecutive years it has not flowered for nine years now but remains healthy.
Reading the other posts I am thinking that it is not warm enough here in Cornwall UK. In particular spring weather is cool and it never gets beyond 25c in summer.
Think I will dig it up and enrich the soil a little just to see if I can get it to grow a little as it seems to just sit now.
Lovely when it did flower.
On Jul 23, 2013, puebloco from Pueblo, CO wrote:
living in Pueblo we get little rain and very warm days my yucca does wonderfully. I have even managed to grow two others from the original plant by taking cuttings and using a root stimulator.
On May 12, 2013, gharial from Slaton, TX wrote:
I have many red yuccas in my yard, but my last 2 attempts have ended in failure. I live just outside of Lubbock, TX, and I planted one in my back yard a year ago that disappeared 1.5 months ago with just a small dioit where it was located. I planted a brand new one about 3 weeks ago, and just today noticed it is also gone in the same way. Although we are subject to high winds at times, there were not any in the last 24 hrs, yet there is no sign of the plant at all. I am in an area where it would be easy to see if it had just died and came out on its own. We are out in the country with few neighbors, so I do not believe that a person is responsible. We do not have any javelinas or other pigs, and there were no blooms on the plant that deer might want. Does anyone have any idea what . read more happened?
On Apr 28, 2013, Mandakay from Phoenix, AZ wrote:
Hi. My red yucca is not blooming. I see all kinds of landscapes and my neighbors' yards with the exact same plant with tons of the pink blooms and mine is barely growing one. It's not a new plant I don't believe (I'm renting a house). I thought it needed water and now the pup seems to be dying. Could I have overwatered?
On Jan 7, 2013, idahocactus2 from Boise, ID wrote:
One of the best drought tolerant and colorful desert plants for southwest Idaho. It will bloom here profusely and will cluster more and more with each year. Water sparingly in this climate, and loves the hottest locations in well drained soil. It needs a little more water in some of the driest parts of southwest Idaho. Will easily survive at -20F, which we seldom experience here. The yellow variety is also good here and many of the hybrids which are being developed. One of the best hummingbird magnet plants to grow in the garden.
Was a little puzzled with the rating as a dangerous plant with sharp spines and edges. It does not have either. It is very soft to touch, unlike many of the dasylirions and yuccas that it is related to. No spines on tips of the plants, an. read more d I don't believe that this plant is toxic. The nectar from the blooms is quite sweet.
On Nov 19, 2012, Daddysbug from Conroe, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
Negative only when overwatering. I moved my red yucca from Austin, TX to Houston, TX. It grew well and blossomed during our drought here but could not handle a normal rain season.
On Dec 12, 2011, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:
Grows like a weed here and attracts hummingbirds like a magnet I also have the yellow and brake light red forms love them all .
On Jun 4, 2011, gustywind from Pahrump, NV wrote:
This is a beautiful prolific grower in Pahrump NV (Souther Nevada) It can be found in commercial landscapes as well as most every landscaped yard in town. I have just started my new landscaping in the front yard and I have included two of these. They are even found in highway landscapes in Southern Nevada where they appear to be very happy! They are low maintenance and low water users. Terrific for zero landscapers.
On Apr 27, 2011, SanAntonioGardner from San Antonio, TX wrote:
My red yucca has four blooms on it. This is the second year it has bloomed. Last year it had one. One of the blooms is already drying out. If I cut them off will any new ones appear? It's only April here so there are many months remaining.
On Apr 18, 2011, RichNV from Henderson, NV wrote:
Although it survives without much water, to get it to bloom I need to water it about once a week here in the desert.
On Apr 14, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:
This was one of my favorite plants in my garden but unfortunately the deer made it their favorite snack this past fall. 0(
On Mar 29, 2011, fixpix from Weston-super-Mare,
United Kingdom wrote:
I think I have this in my garden. I had some small seedlings last year and I planted them out in the garden but after all the freezing temps, the snow, and then the rains of this spring - I don't think they survived.
I checked one of them, and the roots were mushy. I didn't check the others, but they all look kinda sad above the ground - dried up leaves. I am afraid to check what's under the ground. I will just wait and see if they come back to life.
I have more seedlings now, from a totally different source.
I have no idea how to deal with them. grow them in pots?
Find a better spot for them. with not so much water? I admit there's too much water in the ground right now.
Oradea, Romania is I guess in zone 7. We have snow, -15 C lowest in winter, . read more lots of rain in spring.
On May 31, 2010, Noahsgrams from Weston, TX wrote:
I have a question about three red yuccas that I planted last spring. The plants were all blooming when planted. The stems with flowers were all broken by puppies in the flower bed. There were no blooms this spring, although the plants look healthy. Will it bloom again since the flower stems were broken? If so, does it take a good while for flowers to reappear?
On May 4, 2010, bex00 from Albuquerque, NM wrote:
I have this yucca in my front yard and they are beautiful! They work great with the my dry New Mexico soil.
On Apr 28, 2010, SleepyFox from Prescott, AZ (Zone 7a) wrote:
An extremely low maintenance plant, and very VERY drought tolerant. It's quite commonly planted here in Arizona from the coldest reaches of flagstaff, down to the hot, dry Sonoran and Mojave deserts. It has extremely beautiful red blooms (and also yellow, if you get that variety). You can also find this at big box stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot down here in the southwest.
My only warning is to other Arizonians who have Javelina/Peccary problems:
Those pests will eat these down to the roots! if you have any of them that frequent your yard, be sure to fence your red yuccas off until they reach a reasonably large size.
On Apr 18, 2010, JohnTS71 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
This is a great plant to have with virtually no maintenance what so ever. Now in the ground for 2 years I got my first flower stalk of the spring and its over 9ft tall. dont know why?? I see others that are maybe 5-6 ft but mine is ginormous! I did prune this as it produced a pup. I dont water it at all. it defiantly stands out when it flowers.
On Oct 17, 2009, JoyfulSeason from Kerrville, TX wrote:
This yucca thrives in Texas Hill Country (zone 7b/8a), where we have virtually no soil. What soil we have is alkaline. I have one yucca that blooms yellow some years, and red others. Maybe it is actually two plants, but it appears to be only one (. ) Anyone know why this happens? Red yuccas are easy to reproduce from the abundant seeds that grow on the bloom stalks. I haven't had very many volunteer plants occur naturally, though. When I pot the seeds, they are relatively slow-growing. Since large plants are not expensive, it's hardly seems worthwhile propagating your own. My red yuccas grow in shade, sun -- anywhere, but are drip-irrigated weekly, so can't really say how they would do without irrigation, or in a different climate zone. And it's nice to have something green yea. read more r-around, as our area predominately supports perennials, with few exceptions. This is a great addition to a "dry" garden!!
On Aug 17, 2009, echinaceamaniac from (Clint) Medina, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:
VERY positive. This plant is simply amazing. I have both the red and the yellow varieties. The blooms last so long and the hummingbirds seem to love them. I have this next to a wooden fence and I receive compliments on it all the time.
I have saved seeds of my plant and they germinated very well. I let them dry and store them in a zip/lock bag. When I want to start them, I simply add water to the bag. As soon as the seeds start to sprout, I pot them up and they always grow 100%. I only pot up the seeds with sprouts. They take several years to bloom this way, but it's an easy way to get more of them. You can also remove suckers around the base of the plant and plant those as well.
On Aug 14, 2009, cksspace from Joshua Tree, CA wrote:
I have 3 of these in our landscape and plan on purchasing additional ones. Every morning & evening the hummingbirds come straight to the pretty red flowers and I love to watch the hummingbirds! I have not had any luck in planting the seeds from the pods though. but I will keep on trying.
On Aug 10, 2009, cowboydj from Rosenberg, TX wrote:
I grew up in South Central Texas where red yucca grows "wild". I now live outside Houston and brought one plant with me, giving it a new home in an old tractor tire. Quite a novelty for this area!! My daughter and I have brought South Texas to East Texas and many stop to admire and comment on our yard.
Okay. . . A few years after I planted the first yucca, a friend sent me an entire pod from her yucca. It was summer and I simply sowed most of the seeds in the same tire as my old plant. There was no preparation just planted those little babies.
I now have bunches of plants and they bloom year-round. Also, I have a fern tree on one side of the tire and a ginger bed on the other. I water the yucca every time I water the other two areas. It always lo. read more oks wonderful.
On May 10, 2009, bndoolabh from Tyler, TX wrote:
Love the red yucca! It grows really well in my sunny, gently sloped part of the yard. More flower stalks are growing as the plant matures. However, I have one that is growing a stalk for the first time and it seems to be infested with small sesame seed sized bugs. I don't know if they are good for the plant or not, but I'm researching that and the appropriate treatment to get rid of the bug if it is harmful. Anyone have any ideas or experience with this?
Overall, its a great plant to add to the landscape. I love that the hummingbirds enjoy visiting it.
On May 6, 2009, Turtlegaby from Decatur, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:
I bought a small plant last year in Home depot and could separate it in early spring to get 6 more plants, that much it had grown. Every plant developed a flower spike in early spring. The biggest one is about to bloom every day now and it's only the begin of May. We had floody rains the entire last week and everything was under water. It made the flower spike shoot out like crazy and grow tall. Makes me think, if what is said is true, that this plant doesn't need a lot of water. right now it's standing in the water.
On Jan 24, 2009, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:
I have grown this for years. At most it sends out a spike or two about 6' long in summer. The rest of the year it's a nondescript grassy plant not especially attractive considering what it is out there for the dry garden. And to flower it does need regular watering in a Med climate.
The bay area also does not have the 90+ temperatures it needs to really flower at it's best. Walnut Creek,Concord,Pleasanton, might be great for it..the urban inner bay area's just not quite warm enough.
One last thing-if it does get some foot-or paw- traffic,it seems to take a very long time to recover from the "flattened look".
On Jan 24, 2009, hoitider from Emerald Isle, NC wrote:
I bought this red yucca from monroveia nurseries and it is out standing, it is clump forming the first year and offers many extra plant,also ,bought two other new varities of this plant (lighter in colour but otherwise the same they have not had a chance to give me offsets they stay evergreen and handle cool as well as hot weather,i also bought in o8 for 49,00 two other similar looking plants Green Desert Spoon andblue desert spoon,they really grow great on the barrier islans of n c
On Mar 22, 2008, peachespickett from Huntington, AR wrote:
Growing this here in Western Arkansas, in raised desert beds and containers, grows fast, flowers regularly through summer and fall until frost.
On Sep 16, 2006, bethet from Seattle, WA wrote:
Red yucca is growing in my garden in Seattle, Washington, but it hasn't bloomed since I moved here two summers ago. Any ideas how to encourage flowering?
On May 16, 2006, shirleyjeananne from Yuma, AZ wrote:
I live in Yuma, AZ I have enjoyed watching this grow. It seemed to take forever, but in early spring the center flower grew quickly and very tall. I am going to try to grow more of them by using the seeds. The pods of seeds (none yet on one plant, three on another and one on another) are fun to watch as they grow larger and look like very tiny pumpkins only a brownish tan color.
On Feb 10, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
Red Yucca is a beautiful hardy plant that can take the Texas heat.
It is endemic to Texas and very much loved and used in native gardens.
On Nov 3, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:
Even tho this is Drought tolerant, it little extra water in the hottest summer months dosen't hurt it at all, especially in the dryer deserts.
On Sep 30, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
Other common names include the followinig: false red yucca, Texas red yucca, samandoque, coral yucca and hummingbird yucca.
Red yucca, a slow growing evergreen, clump-forming, perennial that grows to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide (wider under optimum conditions), is a native of the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas and extends into central and south Texas (Rio-Grande area) and northeastern Mexico (Coahuila). It natively grows in gravelly limestone soils with fast drainage and usually inhabits rocky slopes, valley slopes, canyon areas, prairies and mesquite thickets. Red yucca is adaptable to a variety of soils and to most of the eastern USA as well. It is cold hardy to -20° F (USDA Zone 5). In cooler areas, it grows best when placed in a hot spot like a south-facing wall where . read more it can get reflected heat. While it will tolerate partial shade or light shade if the soil has adequate drainage, it blooms best in full sun. It is drought tolerant, but grows better with supplemental irrigation during a long, hot summer. Be sure to not over water it.
Red yucca is not a true yucca at all, but is related to the yucca species. It forms a grass-like mound from a rosette of narrow, hard, long, narrow, pointed blue-green leaves. The arching blades resemble rolled grass and have curly threads along the edge of the blade margins. In the winter, the leaves may become a plum color. Unlike the yuccas, red yucca has no thorns. In its natural setting, deer browse the foliage.
From April through August, the red yucca produces narrow, tubular, inverted bell-shaped, 1.25 inch long rosy-red to salmon-pink blooms on racemes which occur on arching, wand-like, pink 40 to 50" stems. The blooms open from the bottom of the raceme upward. (There is a cream to yellow blooming variety as well). The blooms attract hummingbirds and bees.
The green, ping-pong ball sized, multi-chambered seed pods turn a tannish brown color when dry. The seeds are flat, black and about 9 -10mm long by 6 -7 mm wide. These seeds should be soaked for 24 hours before planting to encourage faster germination. The plant also may be propagated by dividing the offsets from the base of the mother plant.
Red yucca is widely cultivated in arid and semi-arid regions serving as a median plant and/or a roadside plant as well as a landscaping element. It is a great container plant and is a good choice for pool areas and pathways. It may be used as a solitary accent plant, in mass plantings or with various cacti in rock gardens to create a desert-themed landscape. If planting it, be sure that it is not next to plants that need a lot of water. It requires minimal maintenance (removal of spent flower stalks and dead leaf blades) and has no serious pest problems.
On Sep 22, 2003, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:
If this plant grows well in my area, I haven't found the right spot for it yet. My guess is it needs more water than the dry Nevada desert can supply naturally. I was fool enough to plant Hesperaloe in very dry locations, including one where Penstemon parryi thrives. The Hesperaloe has failed twice now. I'll keep trying, though.
On Sep 21, 2003, scooterbug from Tellico Plains, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:
Common English names include Red False Yucca and Red Flower Yucca for this evergreen perennial shrub, which measures 3'x3' and has 6-foot flower stalks.