Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
Native to western Texas and northern Mexico, the red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) might not be expected to survive outdoors in the Bronx, yet we have specimens which have thrived here for many years, with a little expert assistance from our gardeners.
In a corner of the Wild Garden is a “micro-desert,” a protected, south-facing, planting bed with soil that has been amended with copious quantities of gravel.
This gravel increases soil-porosity and allows water to drain away quickly. It is poor drainage that kills many desert-dwelling plants because, although they can withstand freezing conditions, prolonged soil-wetness can cause their roots to rot.
Red yucca is also known as hummingbird yucca for the obvious reason that the flowers, which are usually red, but may be yellow on some plants, are very attractive to hummingbirds.
Blooming begins around mid-summer and continues for many weeks.