Award-Winning Everblooming Hesperaloes for Waterwise Beauty
Award-Winning Everblooming Hesperaloes for Waterwise Beauty
by David Salman
Gardeners, landscapers and landscape designers are always searching for long blooming plants to enhance their plantings. And out here in the western US, long bloomers that use less water are much in demand.
Hesperaloe parviflora(Texas Red Yucca) is an outstanding native succulent that has been popular in Texas, its home state, for many years. But it's only been within the last decade or so that it's been recognized to be much cold hardier than previously thought. As a result, the use of this evergreen succulent has greatly expanded into colder USDA zone 5-7 areas of the Inter-mountain West and higher elevations of the Southwest. Hesperaloe is also proving to be an excellent choice for the Mid-Atlantic states, Oklahoma and Arkansas and when planted into fast draining soil.
Three Texas Yuccas
High Country Gardens offers three cultivar selections of Hesperaloe that are ever-blooming and of uniform size, height and form in the landscape.
These three introductions provide the uniformity lacking in seed-grown Hesperaloe plants, which can be quite variable in the grow habits of their flowering spikes and subtle color differences in their flowers.
'Coral Glow', 'Straight Up Red' and 'Yellow' are each uniform in size, flower color and form. This provides well matched plants to place in hot, sunny growing conditions along walks, medians and in formal beds. When out of bloom, the non-spiny, long evergreen leaves provide nice off-season interest through the dormant seasons of fall, winter and early spring.
Plants Need to Reach Mature Size Before Blooming
I like to remind gardeners that Hesperaloe plants typically don't bloom as young plants straight from the nursery. Like their cousins, the Yucca, these plants need to mature and grow to a larger size before the plants begin to push their showy flowering spikes.
I encourage you to be patient, as this can take 2 to 4 years from the initial planting. But once the plants bloom, it's well worth it! They will do so annually thereafter.
It has also been reported that Hesperaloe may not bloom consistently in coastal areas of CA, OR, and WA that have summer fog. Hesperaloe plants love heat and plenty of sun. Persistent morning fog will keep the plants too cool and reduce the hours of full sun they require to bloom.
The flowering spikes of Hesperaloe will often attract aphids to their soft, sugar rich flowers and flower buds in late spring. These are easy-to-control by using organic insecticidal soap when the aphids are first noticed. Or, just take the hose and put your thumb over the end to create a small, hard stream of water to wash off the aphids.
Place a cupped hand behind the flower spike and move up and down washing the aphids off the flowers and buds. Repeat a second time a few days later and the problem will go away. NEVER use systemic pesticides commonly available from uncaring Big Box stores or garden centers. These pesticides are translocated into the flowers and flower buds and will poison hummingbirds and other pollinators that love the nectar-rich flowers.
This stunning new color form of Hesperaloe has glowing coral-orange flowers that are continuous from late spring until frost in the fall. 'Coral Glow' is the result of crossing the rare yellow flowered plant with a red flowered one, that I made many years ago. The plant has good vigor and forms a nice stand of medium-sized rosettes with fringed white threads on the leaf margins. Essentially sterile, 'Coral Glow' sets almost no seed pods and puts its energy into flowering. Plant it outside of a window where you can see it catch the morning sun and show off its glowing coral flowers. Hummingbirds love it.
Like the name implies, this new Hesperaloe selection blooms with tall, 6 to 7 ft. straight, vertically growing spikes of pink-red flowers. Essentially sterile, 'Straight Up Red' blooms all season long and produces almost no seed pods. This handsome plant will prove very useful for planting in narrow beds and other tight spaces where its upright habit will help it to fit. Plant it and the hummingbirds will be constant visitors.
Very hard-to-find, this outstanding ever-blooming cultivar has yellow flowers on medium height flower stalks. Because 'Yellow' is essentially sterile and sets very few seed pods, it puts its energy into producing flowers from late spring into fall. This cultivar is vegetatively propagated (not seed grown), so the plants are very uniform in size, habit and flower color.
In the xeriscape (water-wise landscape), I like to mix 'Yellow' with 'Straight Up Red' and
'Coral Glow' to provide a dramatic color contrast that helps to make this plant's soft yellow flowers more noticeable.
This new cultivar of Texas Yucca blooms all summer with six-foot tall spikes of glowing coral-orange flowers. A cross between a yellow and red flowered variety, Hesperaloe parviflora Coral Glow PP#29,626 has been an outstanding performer.
Yellow Flowering Texas Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora 'Yellow') is a beautiful, uncommon yellow-flowered form of Texas Red Yucca, a low-water garden favorite. Plant it with other Hesperaloes to create superb bi-colored combinations that are sure to draw hummingbirds to your garden.
Delosperma cooperi (Coopers Hardy Ice Plant) is covered with large magenta-pink flowers for much of the summer. A perfect groundcover where easy-care, high color is on the wish-list. It grows vigorously, creating a succulent carpet of color.
Trinidad Yucca (Yucca glauca) is an attractive native evergreen succulent that blooms in late spring. Large ivory colored flowers held over on stiff spikes of blue-gray foliage. Our durable, cold-hardy Yucca comes from the high plains of south-central Colorado, where the wind never stops and the winters are brutally cold. Plains Yucca is a tough native succulent that is both beautiful and long lived, and highly deer and rabbit resistant.
Granita Raspberry Ice Plant (Delosperma Granita Raspberry) is a hybrid Ice Plant that blooms in late spring with stunning raspberry-red flowers. The plant is very cold hardy with evergreen stems and foliage.