A member of the agave family, Yucca glauca is an easy-to-grow, spiky succulent known by several names, including Small soapweed, Soapweed Yucca, Narrowleaf Yucca, Beargrass, and Great Plains Yucca.
These drought-tolerant, hardy plants are recognized for their long narrow leaves and their central spikes featuring clusters of creamy white, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in late spring.
Yucca glauca makes an attractive addition to seaside gardens and rock gardens, and are useful for controlling erosion.
Yucca glauca photograph by Plant diversity.
Plants reach a height of 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm) at maturity, Spikes add about another 30 inches (80 cm), and the spread reaches 24 to 36 inches wide (60 to 90 cm).
Caution should be taken, however, in not planting them too close to high-traffic garden areas so as to avoid the sharp spines that protrude from the ends of their leaves. It's no wonder why one more name for this plant is Spanish bayonet!
Native to dry climates of North America, Yucca glauca grows best in hardiness zones four through eight, but will also thrive in colder climates in indoor containers near southern-facing windows.
Outdoors, Yucca glauca plants prefer full sun and dry, rocky, low-nutrient soil.
If starting from seed, soak them for 24 hours before hand and sow them about one or two seed-lengths deep.
Yucca glauca is not just ornamental, but is also a good wildlife plant. It provides nesting space for small animals, birds and reptiles, and its flowers attract butterflies and moths.
Native American tribes have long used the plant for medicinal purposes. When crushed, its roots create a lather that is used as soap - hence the "soapweed" name.
Additionally, its dried leaves are traditionally used to make rope, baskets and mats. Finally - and not unsurprisingly -- the points of the leaves can be used for needles.