Common names: Spanish Bayonet, Dagger Plant
The herbalist Gerard named this plant Yucca filamentosa. Well, actually he named it but he thought he was naming a relative of Manihot esculenta who were known in the native tongue by the name of yuca. As it turns out, they weren’t related but the name stuck anyway. Spanish bayonet and dagger plant refer to the erect, sharp-tipped leaves.
- Bloom time: Mid to late summer
- Height: 24 for foliage and 60 for flower
- Sun needed: Full
- Bloom color: White
- Planting space: 24” apart
- Soil preferred: Well drained, rich organic soils but tolerates poor sandy soils.
- Propagation method: Division, seed
Yucca filamentosa: The species is commonly available in garden centers. Leaves grow to 24 to 30” tall and the white flower spike to 60”
‘Variegata’ is a white edged leaf form. Otherwise, it is the same as the species.
‘Golden Sword’ is a golden edged leaf form
Yucca smalliana: This species resembles Y. filamentosa except that the leaves are narrower. The variety named ‘Variegata’ is often sold as Y. filamentosa. It has yellow variegations and white flowers.
Most gardeners think that this plant grows best on poor ground. Quite the opposite is true. If given a rich soil, high in organic matter, the plant will thrive. What it does not like in my experience is wet boggy soil, poor drainage or winter-wet soils. Because the plant is an evergreen, keeping it out of drying winter winds is almost a necessity if you want the plant to get large enough to produce flowers. Winter winds will burn the leaves off, making them resprout from the roots the following spring.
This plant is like a bank account. When you put enough sunlight and energy into it, the plant will produce a tall white flower stalk. Depending on your climate and your gardening skills, this may take one, two or even three years to accomplish. In cooler parts of the continent, it rarely blooms reliably every year.
Potions and Poisons
The roots of this plant are said to contain saponins – useful as soap. There are no concerns with growing it unless you are a 5 year old child in need of a bath.