By: Teo Spengler
If you aren’t familiar with this plant, you may assume that a beaked blue yucca is some type of parrot. So what is beaked yucca? According to beaked yucca plant information, it is a succulent, cactus-like evergreen shrub popular as a landscape plant in the southwestern United States. If you want to learn more about how to grow a beaked blue yucca, read on.
If you aren’t growing beaked blue yucca, you might not know about this unusual succulent. Beaked yucca’s scientific name is Yucca rostrata, with “rostrata” meaning beaked. It is a large, architecturally interesting yucca plant native to Mexico and West Texas.
According to beaked yucca plant information, the plant’s trunk (or stem) can grow to 12 feet (3.5 m.). It is topped by a 12-inch (30.5 cm.) large flower cluster that grows on top. The creamy white blossoms appear on a tall spike in springtime.
Beaked yucca leaves look like lances, gathered together in rosettes of 100 or more in a pom-pom-like formation. Each leaf grows up to 24 inches (61 cm.) long but less than an inch (2.5 cm.) wide, blue-green with a toothed yellow margin. Young beaked yuccas generally don’t have any branches. As the plants get older, they develop several branches.
If you want to grow a beaked blue yucca, you’ll need to know the hardiness range of the plant. Beaked yucca thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 11. Those gardeners growing beaked blue yucca should choose a site with full sun or at least ample sun. The beaked yucca prefers moist, well-draining alkaline soil.
You’ll also want to know how difficult it is to maintain it. In fact, beaked yucca care is relatively easy. The first rule of beaked yucca care is to provide occasional irrigation in dry periods. The second rule is to protect against over irrigation by installing the plant in soil with excellent drainage. Yuccas die in wet soil or standing water.
The roots of most yuccas, including beaked yuccas, are vulnerable to attacks by desert beetle grubs. A part of beaked yucca care is to treat plants with an approved insecticide in spring and again in summer.
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Drought-tolerant and striking, beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata) makes a bold statement. Like other yucca plants and members of the Agavaceae plant family, the beaked yucca grows from a central stem and produces long, sword-shaped spiked leaves. This yucca variety grows 10 feet tall or more with a thick trunk and leaves 2 feet long and 1/2 inch wide. This plant makes a smart choice for a waterwise garden. Beaked yuccas grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 11.
Water yuccas only in dry weather. Once established, beaked and other yucca varieties rarely need additional water. For new plants in their first growing season, water weekly or whenever the soil feels dry.
Apply a general-purpose fertilizer once each year in late winter or early spring before the main growing season. Use fertilizers as directed on the package label.
Cut off the outside leaves as they dry and turn brown to expose the trunk. Use a sharp knife to shave the leaves as close to the trunk as possible. Trim the leaves off throughout the growing season.
Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Yucca rostrata. You may also enjoy the following Yucca growing guides: How to grow Yucca thompsoniana and Spine Yucca.
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is fire-retardant
This plant is resistant to deer
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)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
Can be grown as an annual
Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Borrego Springs, California
Fallbrook, California(5 reports)
Feeding Hills, Massachusetts
Las Vegas, Nevada(2 reports)
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)
On Sep 18, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:
Like a Koosh ball on a stick. The leaves are flexible, so their hard, sharp tip spines yield to pressure instead of breaking the skin. Watch out for your eyes in handling or caring for this plant.
The color and the symmetry are outstanding. Keep other plants from intruding on its space to retain the foliage symmetry.
A smaller variety that grows up to 8ft tall and may branch is sometimes referred to as Yucca thompsoniana (RHS accepted name).
On Mar 21, 2016, sjr52557 from OAKLAND GARDENS, NY wrote:
I found a group of these plants growing in Glen Oaks, New York.
On Jan 7, 2013, TimMAz6 from North Seekonk, MA wrote:
Yucca rostrata glows well in zone 6b Massachusetts. I would recommend winter moisture protection since very wet and snowy winters may damage the plant. Protection should prevent moisture from getting into the leaf head. I've grown rostrata since 2002 and enjoy it very much.
On Jan 11, 2009, thistlesifter from Vista, CA wrote:
Yucca, nolina, and beaucania, all defy normal taxonomic classification.
There are some theories that these genera and some of the Agave were cultivated and cultivars developed by pre-columbian tribes of Mexico and central america. Many were useful and important both as landscape decoration as well as fiber development. Pre-columbian americas were far advanced in use of fiber technology over the old world.
In fact, Cortez discarded his metal armor in favor of Aztec textile armour which was more effective against the obsidium points used on Aztec spear and arrow points. The obsidum would shatter and the glass chards worked its way into armour and did much damage that the bullet projectiles through the tough textile.
We've had rosta. read more tas in our gardens for over 20 years. very slow here, but also very beautiful in full sunlight.
On Mar 21, 2008, imcuban2 from Chicago, IL wrote:
I have been experimenting with many yucca. I ordered one of these and it rooted very fast. It has a southern exposure plenty of summer heat. It grows almost flawlessly. I threw peice of clear plastic over it to keep it dry thats all. It even appears to have growns some over the winter. THIS one is a winner!! Its growing in a rich soil
I bought this 21" in 2007 and in 2012 I transplanted to my new home in Plainfield 30 miles south west of Chicago and its 58" tall from the soil line. It has bloomed for me once in 2011 (in Chicago) they LOVE rich soil and regular watering. Next spring I am planting agave and Cacti next to it.
On Jan 16, 2007, YuccaShawn from Brooklyn, NY wrote:
So far it's been 1yr & a 1/2 and no burn what so ever. I have 6 Yucca rostrata's, 4 of them about 3 feet tall. All did great the winter of 05/06. And very little protection needed compared to the cold hardy palms I have. These are the future yucca "Palms" of the Northeast USA.
On Jul 24, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
It is also known as Big Bend yucca for the Big Bend region of Texas where it is commonly found, Soyate and Palmita. Beaked yucca is a native plant that inhabits western Texas and northern Mexico in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila. Beaked yucca, is usually found growing on rocky bajadas, ridges or slopes that are comprised of limestone gravel. It grows much faster in alkaline soils.
It is a normally a single-trunked yucca that reaches heights of 6-15 feet and wide of 5-8 feet Mature plants may branch and become multi-headed. It is a thin-leafed tree yucca with several. The leaves have sharp spine tips and smooth, yellow leaf margins. It has flat leaves as compared to yucca rigida which has leaves with more of a u-shape. It is adaptable to many soil types, has low wate. read more r requirements and is slow growing. It is very hardy to drought as well as severe cold. When rooted properly, it can withstand temperatures to -15 degrees C.
In the spring through the summer, a 60 cm long panicle is produced which mostly is composed of fleshy white flowers. It stands above the leaves. It can be propagated from seeds or offsets and can be transplanted easily.
On Dec 5, 2003, shoedavies from Canon City, CO wrote:
I received this plant via mail order with virtually no roots - just the trunk and leaves. Since I had $95 invested, I planted it anyway but with so little of the plant below the soil, I put some hefty boulders around the base to keep the wind from blowing it over. It looked pretty bad the first year, but apparently sprouted roots because the next year it grew moderately. Y. rostrata is recognized more and more as the hardiest of the trunk-forming yuccas. Mine grows in zone 6a the internet indicates others are even growing in zone 5. Needs well-drained soil that stays pretty dry in the winter.
On Oct 18, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:
This was first introduced to me as the Nordstrum's Yucca, because some of the Nordstroms stores out here in So Cal would have these neat, elegant Yuccas lining their walkways. It is a very attractive plant, and relatively 'user-friendly' for a yucca, with sharp leaves, but soft and not that piercing (can be handled easily without pain or bloodshed, but watch your eyes). It has wonderfully glaucous leaves that create a turquoise ball on a stick in larger specimens. As a young plant the leaves tend to have a yellow striping that disappears with age. It is a moderately fast growing yucca, but larger specimens go for many hundreds of dollars, and it is a collector's iten. The flower stalks are short but interesting looking and of a pale yellow-orange.
Some consider Yucca . read more thompsoniana as the same species, only a branching form of Yucca rostrata. There is also a fine-leaf form of this that looks a bit like Yucca elata, only there are no filaments on the leaves.
A succulent cactus-like shrub with beautiful blue-green spear-like leaves radiating from the center and tall spikes of nodding white flowers in autumn once established, this variety is trunk forming good for dry sites, use as a focal accent
Beaked Yucca features bold spikes of creamy white bell-shaped flowers rising above the foliage from late summer to early fall. It has attractive bluish-green foliage. The sword-like leaves are highly ornamental and remain bluish-green throughout the winter. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Beaked Yucca is a multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a more or less rounded form. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage.
This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration
Beaked Yucca is recommended for the following landscape applications
Beaked Yucca will grow to be about 10 feet tall at maturity extending to 15 feet tall with the flowers, with a spread of 5 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn't necessarily require facer plants in front, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 20 years.
This shrub should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or the moisture-conserving landscape. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This species is native to parts of North America.
Beaked Yucca makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its height, it is often used as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag - this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.