Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

Coral Yucca, Hummingbird Yucca, Red, flower False Yucca, Red Yucca, Samandoque, Yellow Yucca

Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) is a desert plant native to Texas and Mexico. Red yucca has become favorable as an ornamental plant in landscaping that does not require supplemental water through irrigation. It is a drought tolerant plant that can withstand harsh weather conditions and does not require a lot of maintenance.

I. Appearance and Characteristics 

Hesperaloe parviflora, also known as red yucca, hummingbird yucca, redflower false yucca and samandoque, is a plant that is native to Chihuahuan desert of west Texas east and south into central and south Texas and northeastern Mexico around Coahuila.

It has narrow evergreen leaves with a fringe of white threadlike hairs along their edges, and grows in clumps 3–6 ft (0.91–1.83 m) high and wide. Red or yellow tubular flowers are borne on branching flower stalks (inflorescences) up to 5 ft (1.5 m) tall from late spring to mid-summer.

The Latin specific epithet parviflora means “with small flowers”.

This species has become popular in xeriscape landscape design for public and private gardens in California and the Southwestern United States. The plant’s qualities include drought tolerance, heat resistance, low maintenance needs, hummingbird attracting flowers, and an architectural form. It is also a spineless alternative to Agave and Yucca horticultural species.

Red yucca plants are cold-hardy. However, when temperatures are lower in cold winter climates, the leaves often take on a purplish-red appearance.

II. How to Grow and Care

Light & Temperature

Red Yucca plants are best suited for desert conditions.

They thrive in USDA hardiness zones 5a to 10b, which means they are comfortable with a range of temperatures from -20 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Further proof of why it is so comfortable in a rock garden, planted on rocky slopes and exposed to full sun.

Watering

After first planting the Hesperaloe Parviflora in the spring, it is best to maintain a schedule for regular watering throughout its first year. After that, it can survive on less water.

However, for more attractive, bright coral blooms, increase the amount of water you give the plant, especially during the summer months when it is in bloom.

Soil

Red yucca plants do well in ordinary garden soil that is well-drained. They don’t tolerate wet feet, so if your garden has a tendency to be soggy, amend the soil with plenty of sand or gravel before planting. These plants can also take inadequate soil conditions, as long as the soil adequately drains. You can also grow red yucca in containers, but be sure to use a potting mix that drains well.

Fertilizing

Because succulents need soil that drains well and lets air flow around their roots, you should give them good potting soil.

You can buy commercial soil or mix your own. To mix your own, you should combine two parts soil or soil-free commercial potting mixture with one-part sand and perlite to increase drainage.

If you add limestone to balance the soil PH, you will make nutrients more available to the roots. Bone meal for phosphate will also stimulate root growth.

However, only a small amount should be added to your potting mix.

Pruning

Red yucca plants don’t require pruning, but you can cut them back if they become too large for their space. Cut the plants back to within a few inches of the ground in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This will encourage the plants to produce new leaves and stems, resulting in a fuller plant. Before winter you will want to clip out all of the old flowering stems as they will start to look unattractive. The seeds can be removed from the pods and used to grow new plants.

Propagation

You can plant your Hesperaloe Parviflora from seed, but it will take several years before it begins to flower. It is recommended to buy new plants, locally or online, or transplant clumps of existing plants.

It is self-seeding, dropping outwardly to expand its area, so propagation by clump division is an easy task.

Planting Red Yucca From Seeds

If you choose to plant from seeds, you should fill a seed flat with good-quality potting soil and place it in a tray of water.

Use two or three seeds for each compartment and keep them indoors in a warm, sunny area (72 to 90 degrees).

Frequently, check the soil for moisture. You should expect germination to take between two to three months.

Propagating Red Yucca Through Clump Division

Clump division is the easiest and most common way to propagate red yucca.

To clump, divide, take a large root mass and remove the entire root ball. Take a section of the root and break it into small pieces. These pieces will grow into new plants.

Plants can be grown either in large pots or in the ground. Dig a hole that is about 3 to 4 inches deep and place the plant in the hole.

Cover the hole with soil and place mulch on top. Keep the plant moist during this process by watering it regularly.

The best time to divide a red yucca plant is in the fall. If you don’t divide the plant in the fall, the plant will not be ready to flower the following year.

Pests and Diseases

How to Encourage Growth

To encourage growth, allow space for the Texan Yucca to spread to its maximum height and width.

If you find it does not have enough space, transplant it to a spot that can occupy a greater area.

The Red Yucca does not appreciate hard pruning, so take care not to cut the ends of the long Yucca leaves.

The foliage may not grow back if you remove too much of the plant at once.

III. Uses and Benefits 

  • Ornamental uses

Due to its evergreen foliage, heat resistance, and drought tolerance, redflower false yucca plants are popular for growing in xeriscape landscapes and rock gardens.

It is widely grown in both public and private gardens throughout the southwest United States and northern Mexico.

Since it is strong and sturdy, Hesperaloe is also used as an architectural plant.

It also makes a great addition in flowering and wildlife gardens, due to its long bloom period and flower color, which also attract hummingbirds.

It will grow as a container plant, in large pots, and is also used as an alternative to Agave species.

  • Culinary uses

Almost the whole red yucca plant may be eaten—stems, leaf bases, flowers, developing stalks, and fruit are all edible.

The stems of the Red Yucca contain vast amounts of carbohydrates in compounds known as saponins. Saponins, unfortunately, are very poisonous and must be broken down by cooking (baking or boiling) to make them non-toxic.

Red Yucca flower stalks must be cut from the plant before blooming, or they will become fibrous and unpalatable. They may be cooked or eaten raw when they resemble giant asparagus stalks.

As for the blooms themselves, they apparently need to be harvested at precisely the right moment for them to taste any good. 

But the red Yucca fruit is the most sought-after part of the plant because of its sweet and fig-like taste when roasted or baked.

The fruit may also be dried to eat later, or it can be stored by mashing it into a pasty meal that can be formed into a cake to be eaten later.

Aside from being grown for food, Yucca fruit was originally used as a laxative, the sap was used to heal skin issues, and the roots were used to treat lice infestations.

  • Other uses

It may come as a big surprise, but Hesperaloe parviflora leaves can be used for weaving, and other parts of the plant have been used in making soap.

Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) Details

Common name Coral Yucca, Hummingbird Yucca, Red, flower False Yucca, Red Yucca, Samandoque, Yellow Yucca
Botanical name Hesperaloe parviflora
Plant type Perennial
Hardiness zone 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
Growth rate Medium
Height 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
Width 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
Sunlight Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
Soil condition Loam (Silt)
Flower color Gold/Yellow
Leaf color Blue