Texas Red Yucca

Texas Red Yucca (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.

Hesperaloe parviflora 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.

Red yucca (which is not a yucca) is a stalwart in the landscapes of Texas and the southwest. Its dark green rosette of long, thin leaves rising fountain-like from the base provides an unusual sculptural accent, its long spikes of pink to red to coral bell-shaped flowers last from May through October, and it is exceedingly tough, tolerating extreme heat and cold and needing no attention or supplemental irrigation once established, although many people remove the dried flower stalks in the fall. Unlike yucca, the leaves are not spine-tipped, and have fibrous threads along the edges. Red yucca is native to Central and Western Texas. A yellow-flowered form has recently become available in nurseries, and a larger, white-flowered species native to Mexico, giant hesperaloe (H. funifera), which has only been found in one location in the Trans-Pecos, is also available. Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers.

  • Plant Habit or Use: small shrub, medium shrub
  • Exposure: sun
  • Flower Color: pinkish red, coral, yellow
  • Blooming Period: spring, summer
  • Fruit Characteristics: woody capsule
  • Height: 3 to 5 feet
  • Width: 2 to 4 feet
  • Plant Character: evergreen
  • Heat Tolerance: very high
  • Water Requirements:
  • Soil Requirements: adaptable
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Tips for Growing Cacti and Succulents

Cacti shipped early in the spring may be dormant. As the weather warms, these cacti will expand and green up. Remember, after an initial watering to settle the soil around the roots, no further water should be applied until the weather warms up. If plants are dormant and the spring weather is rainy, protect the plants from too much moisture by covering them with a gallon plastic milk container with the bottom cut out. Leave the top off the jug so the heat build-up isn’t excessive in sunny weather.

Soil Preparation

All the species of hardy cacti and succulents require fast-draining soil.

Planting in the ground

Put the plants on a slope or raised area of the garden, not in a low spot that collects water. Select a bed with full sun exposure, preferably next to a south or west-facing wall. These areas will provide extra winter warmth. In heavy clay soils, it is essential to replace half or more of the soil from a 10”x 10” or larger hole with coarse sand and gravel mixed thoroughly with the remaining soil to ensure adequate drainage. No compost should be added, only a small handful of Planters II and Yum Yum Mix®.

Planting in an outdoor pot or planter

Use a planting mix of 3 parts garden soil + 2 parts coarse sand + 2 parts coarse perlite (or similar material). When growing plants indoors in pots, use a good quality potting soil to mix with the sand, and expanded shale instead of garden soil.

Planting Instructions

1. Cacti, agaves, and tap-rooted succulents (Aloinopsis, Titanopsis, Nananthus) should be transplanted bare-root. Let the soil in the pot dry out for a few days. Then remove the pot and gently loosen the soil so it falls away from the roots. Trim off any broken roots. Bare root plants should then be planted into a shallow hole. Spread out the roots evenly and sprinkle the soil into the hole until full. The base of the plant should rest on top of the soil. Mulch with a 1⁄2”-1” thick layer of pea-sized gravel around the base of the plant to protect it from contact with soggy soil over the winter months. (See planting diagram on page 12 of our Planting Guide.)

2. Succulents with fibrous roots (Ruschia, Delosperma, Sedum, and others) need not be transplanted bare-root, instead, the root ball should be scored and roughed out like other perennials.

Watering

1. Bare-root cacti and tap-rooted succulents must not be watered right away but should sit dry for a day or two to allow the roots to callus over any broken or damaged areas. Other succulents can be watered in right away. Water thoroughly with a mixture of SeaCom-PGR and Superthrive to stimulate strong new root growth. Water again with this mixture two weeks later.

2. Outdoor beds with new plants should be initially watered once every 5 to 7 days for the first month or so after transplanting. Cacti and succulents enjoy regular watering during the heat of the summer and will grow vigorously. After the first year, most cacti species need a good soaking only once every 2-4 weeks during the spring and summer if there has been no rain.

3. Potted plants require more frequent, regular watering, especially if the weather is hot and dry.

4. To prepare cacti and succulents for the approach of winter, begin withholding water in the fall so the plants can begin to dehydrate and shrivel. Plump, well-watered plants are ripe for cold damage when temperatures plunge in late fall/early winter.

Fertilizing

Cacti and succulents are very modest in their fertilizer requirements. When planted in the ground, fertilizing in spring with SeaCom-PGR and Yum Yum Mix® will encourage plentiful flowers and good stem growth. When planted in pots, remember to feed monthly with the same mixture as above, beginning in late summer.