Description: Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa) is a hardy evergreen sub-shrub. In addition to being a highly regarded ornamental, it was also known for its ethno-botanical uses (fiber, medicine, soap, food, fish-stunning, etc.). At some point, it fell from favor until variegated leaf forms began to appear and drew notice. Now, 3 or 4 variegated cultivars can be easily found and add a bright note to gardens year-round.
The brightest selection is ‘ColorGuard’ with a brilliant yellow center to the 18” sword-like leaves which are tinged with pink and rose during the winter months. The cultivar ‘Gold Sword’ is similar – punctuated with streaks of gold and green at the center of the leaves, while ‘Gold Edge’ is, as you would expect, rimmed with creamy yellow. No matter the hue present in these cultivars, all have wiry threads at the margins of the leaves, hence the specific epithet filamentosa.
Though the yuccas perform best in full sun in well-drained soils, they are tolerant of a few hours (4) of shade, and rich soils. In the best situations they will reward gardeners not only with beautiful foliage (deep green in the species) but also dramatic 7’ spikes of large creamy white bells in June and July. yuccas are native to the Southeast U.S. where they grow in Louisiana and as far north as Virginia.
- Type/habit: Sub-shrub
- Key season and features of interest: Showy, creamy white bell-shaped blooms on 5-7’ stalk; foliage
- Flowering period: June-July
- Evergreen or deciduous: Evergreen
- Native? Yes
- Pollinator plant: Insect pollinated
- Wildlife benefits: Attracts hummingbirds and bees; hosts yucca moth larvae which consume the seeds
- Site/Condition tolerance: Rocky or fertile soil; part shade; drought; air pollution
- Sun/Shade preference: Full sun
- Soil condition preference: Infertile, sandy soil; medium to dry moisture
- Easy to grow; pest and disease resistant; rabbit and deer resistant
Growth Habit: Slow-growing, erect, fibrous, sword-like and spine-tipped, stemless leaves in a rosette formation
Size (mature height and spread): 2-3’ tall by 2-3’ wide (with flower stem up to 7’ tall)
Hardiness (USDA Zones): 5-9
Nativity: Eastern and Midwestern US
Suggested Uses: Dry border or slope, specimen, accent, container
Year of award: 2012