August 2013 Plant Highlight: Yucca Schottii

by Brian Kemble


Many of the Ruth Bancroft Garden’s Yucca species come into bloom in the spring, but Yucca schottii is summer-flowering. It does not flower for us every year, but when it does so it blooms in July and August. Like other species in the genus, it has bell-like waxy white flowers, and these are about 2 inches long (5 cm). The total height of the inflorescences on our specimen is about 4 feet (1.2 m), partly within the head of leaves but extending about 2½ feet (.75 m) beyond the leaf tips. At the bud stage, the flowers are tinged with purple, and this persists as a little purple tip on the outer 3 petals of the open flower, with a faint stripe of purple extending down the outside of the petal.

Y. schottii in flowerA. parryi rosette

Y. schottii grows on both sides of the U.S. – Mexico border, in the states of Arizona and New Mexico on the U.S. side, and the states of Sonora and Chihuahua on the Mexican side. It is closely related to Y. madrensis, from farther south in Sonora, but Y. schottii is a larger plant with bluer leaves and larger inflorescences. Some botanists favor including Y. schottii within Y. madrensis, while others consider it a separate species.

Y. schottii can reach a height of as much as 20 feet (6 m), though more often plants are in the 10 to 15 foot range (3 to 4.5 m). It has sword-shaped blue-green leaves which are 1½ to 3 feet long (to just under a meter), somewhat stiff but still bendable. They have sharp tips and a very narrow dark brown margin, without the curling threads seen on the leaf margins of some other species of Yucca.

In gardens, Yucca schottii is very adaptable. It can be grown in shade, part sun or full sun, and can endure winter lows to as much as -10° F (-23° C). It should not be planted too close to a walkway to avoid having passersby get poked by its sharp leaf tips.


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The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.  
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The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the following grant funders:

The Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position

The Mervyn L. Brenner Foundation and The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our directional signs

The California Horticultural Society for funding towards our restoration projects

The Bonita Garden Clubfor funding restoration and education projects


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