By David Salman, High Country Gardens Founder
I’ve been around long enough in the nursery industry to have seen a handful of plants go from obscurity to tremendous popularity. And Hesperaloe, which is now extensively planted throughout the Intermountain and Southwestern US, is one of them. For many years, Texas Yucca (Hesperaloe) was considered to be a cold tender native succulent for planting in the mild-winter areas of Texas, California, and the Southwestern US, only suitable for USDA zones 8-10. However, about 20 years ago I thought, “Why not give Hesperaloe a try in my Santa Fe display garden?”
I’m an avid hummingbird gardener with a passion for planting to bring hummingbirds into my garden — and Hesperaloe is a hummingbird magnet with its profusion of nectar-rich tubular flowers. Much to my surprise, after a few years in my USDA zone 5b garden, the Hesperaloe were thriving, unbothered by our frigid high desert winters. Hesperaloe can take 2-4 seasons to establish before they bloom, but their beauty — and the hummingbird show that comes with them — is well worth the wait. Some of my good friends in the Denver area had similar ideas to test Hesperaloe and came to the same conclusions. From that point on, I’ve been a keen advocate of planting Hesperaloe and started to work on selecting improved cultivars to share with even more gardeners.