Stimulate your landscape–part 2

Agave, yucca and other durable succulents grow well in the High Plains and Intermountain Region.

durable-yucca-blogOne of the speakers at the Plant Select annual meeting was Dan Goodspeed, the Mountain States Wholesale Nursery sales rep for Colorado, Idaho, Texas and New Mexico. Dan’s presentation was designed to help plant people think about yucca and other desert plants in a new way.

“These are the quintessential western plants,” he said. “The one thing we can grow here better than anyone else is grasses and these are big grasses. Just think of them as Big Blue Gramma.”

Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, a grower based in Arizona, has had a 15-year partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens. Many of the yucca and other succulents at the gardens came from Mountain States and demonstrate how well these plants grow in our area.

Dan explained these plants are extremely adaptable and can grow at elevations of 6,000 feet and higher. They blend well into interesting designs, have unique flowers, and perform exceptionally well in low-water conditions. But it’s still rare to see them used in large numbers around here.

Many times, they’re seen only as the 1 yucca by the mailbox, Dan said.

He recommends planting them as a mass instead of an accent, just like other masses of grasses. They can be planted with just about everything and look especially nice planted with agastache. They also grow well in containers.

Dan showed photos of the 100 acres of Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) planted on the nursery’s site in Cochise County, Arizona. The endless rows of these plants, with their tall red flower spikes, was inspiring.

He thinks red yucca should be on every landscape and xeriscape because of their durability, long flower bloom time, heat and drought tolerance and low-maintenance requirements. Dan may soon get his wish. Red yucca will be a Plant Select introduction in 2010.

I was also impressed by what Dan said about his company. One of its missions is to eliminate wild-collected yucca and other desert plants from Texas and Mexico. Once these native plants are pulled up by their roots they can’t be replaced which will change the landscape there forever.

Mountain States Wholesale Nursery is donating a large number of yucca and other desert plants to trial sites in Colorado to test for hardiness as part of the Plant Select program.

Even though Mountain States doesn’t sell to the public, you can still browse the website, click on Plant Information Sheet to see photos and read descriptions of all of its offerings from Agave to Yucca.

Perhaps you can start thinking now where you’ll plant your mass of red yucca next spring.


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