Sword-Like Succulents 11 Best Yucca Plants to Grow and Gift

Sword-Like Succulents: 11 Best Yucca Plants to Grow and Gift

Yucca plants usually have an out-of-this-world look that just draws people in. Some have long, pointy leaves; others grow tall flower stalks that are like natural skyscrapers; some have thick, woody, trunks; and some have all of these.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best types of yucca plants to grow and gift. From the dramatic Spanish daggers to the tourist-favorite Joshua tree, each one has something special that can make your garden look extra wonderful.

The Best Types of Yucca for You and Your Loved Ones

Adam’s Needle

Botanical Name: Yucca filamentosa
Origin: Southeastern United States, Mexico
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Every 10 days or when the soil is completely dry
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Yucca filamentosa, commonly known as Adam’s needle, is a yucca plant native to the United States and Mexico. It’s popular for its long, sword-shaped leaves with a sharp, needle-like tip.

The plant grows in a dense rosette shape and can grow up to 3 feet tall. It also produces tall flower spikes with a particularly strong fragrance at night, attracting several pollinators.

Adam’s needle thrives in full sun, but it can survive just fine in a location with partial shade. It’s also relatively drought-resistant, so it can survive a few weeks without water if you’re away.

Best for: People with limited gardening space. Adam’s needle is relatively small, perfect for those living in apartments or with small patios and balconies.

Banana Yucca

Botanical Name: Yucca baccata
Origin: United States and Mexico
Size: 3 to 5 feet high, 3 to 5 feet spread
Light: Full sun
Water: Every week or whenever the soil is dry
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Banana yucca is a unique-looking type of yucca that’s a popular food source for many Native American tribes. The plant produces an edible fruit that resembles a small banana, hence the name.

It has long, narrow, lance-shaped leaves that are typically bluish-green to gray-green. It also produces creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers during late spring or early summer, adding to the plant’s charm.

A banana plant is relatively low-maintenance once established. They may need occasional pruning to remove damaged leaves and watering every week, but that’s mostly it.

Best for: Lovers who are plant enthusiasts. Aside from banana yucca’s beauty, it can also symbolize your loyalty to your partner.

Beaked Yucca

Botanical Name: Yucca rostrata 
Origin: West Texas and Mexico
Size: 10 to 15 feet tall, 4 to 10 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Once a week during summer and spring; once every two weeks or less during winter and fall
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Beaked yucca is a stunning and distinctive type of yucca loved for its stiff and bluish-green leaves. The leaves are long, narrow, and typically rigid with sharp tips, making them a striking addition to gardens.

The leaves usually form a rosette shape in the ground, but a trunk will eventually grow, leading to a tree-like appearance. The trunk is often covered with remnants of dead leaves, creating an attractive and textured pattern.

Although it’s mostly planted in the ground, it can also be grown in large containers. This is the best option for those living in regions with harsh winters, as it allows them to move the plant indoors for protection.

Best for: People with huge gardens. Beaked yuccas are not only tall, but they’re also wide, so it’s ideal to grow them in huge spaces.

Mojave Yucca

Botanical Name: Yucca schidigera
Origin: Southwestern United States
Size: 2 to 16 feet tall, 4 to 8 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Once every two weeks or when the soil is completely dry
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Yucca schidiger is a type of yucca native to the Mojave Desert. Some call it “Spanish dagger,” as it often gets mistaken for Yucca gloriosa, but it’s more widely recognized as Mojave yucca due to its origin.

It has long blue-green leaves with sharp, pointed tips, resembling a dagger. They grow in a rosette form, and a trunk starts appearing as it ages, giving it a more desert-like look.

The leaves have fibers that were widely used by Native American tribes to make cordage and baskets. Its flowers were also used as natural deodorizers because of their fragrant smell.

In late spring to early summer, Mojave yucca produces tall, branching flower spikes that contain pendulous and bell-shaped blooms. These blooms emit a pleasant fragrance, attracting pollinators like bees and moths.

Best for: Busy individuals. This low-maintenance plant can tolerate drought, so it’s perfect for professionals who are often too busy to take care of their plants.

Soaptree Yucca

Botanical Name: Yucca elata 
Origin: Southwestern United States and northern Mexico
Size: 6 to 20 feet tall, 8 to 10 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Once a week during spring and summer; once every two weeks during winter and fall
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Soaptree yucca, scientifically known as Yucca elata, is native to the arid regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, so it has minimal water requirements and can withstand drought.

It’s a tree-like yucca plant that can grow up to 20 feet tall but usually only stays at 12 feet. The trunk can contain multiple rosettes of sword-shaped leaves.

The trunks and roots have saponins, which many Native American tribes used to make soap and shampoo. These soaps and shampoo were used to treat hair loss and dandruff.

However, it’s important to note that although the plant’s saponins were used to make soap, this substance is mildly toxic to humans and pets. It’s crucial that you train your dogs and pets not to play with the plant.

Best for: Resorts and hotels. The plant has a very tropical appearance that can help give a place a more summery and serene feel.

Moreover, resorts and hotels usually have dedicated people who can trim the plant when it’s getting too big.

Thompson’s Yucca

Botanical Name: Yucca thompsoniana
Origin: Southwest Texas and Chihuahua, Mexico
Size: 6 to 12 feet tall, 5 to 10 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Once every two weeks
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Thompson’s yucca can be hard to distinguish from beaked yucca because of its greenish-gray, lance-shaped leaves and woody trunk. But this type of yucca is much smaller than beaked yucca, often only around 6 feet tall, although it can reach 12 feet.

Its leaves are stiff with sharp and pointed tips, creating a spiky rosette on top of the trunk. This makes it pretty attractive, especially for gardeners.

Thompson’s yucca loves the sun, so it’s best to keep it in areas that receive lots of it. The plant can also adapt to various types of soil as long as it drains well.

Best for: Friends who recently moved to a new home. It’s a gorgeous plant that can add more personality to their new home.

Spineless Yucca

Botanical Name: Yucca elephantipes
Origin: Mexico
Size: 15 to 30 feet tall, 10 to 15 feet wide 
Light: Full sun
Water: Once a week during summer and spring, once every three weeks during fall and winter
Toxicity: Toxic to pets

Unlike other yucca plants, spineless yucca lacks sharp spines or teeth at the edges of its leaf, hence its name. This makes it the best yucca variety to grow indoors.

Although spineless yucca can grow up to 30 feet tall, it usually stays around 5 feet when grown indoors. It’s also low-maintenance and relatively drought-tolerant, so it’s perfect even for those who are beginners in planting.

Yucca elephantipes have a stunning, fountain-like rosette of long, lance-shaped leaves, which can add a tropical vibe to your living room. 

If you don’t want it indoors, this yucca also makes a good choice for xeriscape landscaping, which mainly uses drought-tolerant plants to reduce irrigation.

Best for: Families with young kids and pets. They don’t have sharp edges that can hurt the kids, so they’re safe to grow indoors.

Spanish Dagger

Botanical Name: Yucca gloriosa
Origin: Southeastern United States
Size: 2 to 4 feet tall, 2 to 4 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Once a week in the summer of their first year; once every 2 weeks after they’re established
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

With its elongated, sword-like leaves, it’s easy to see why Yucca gloriosa is commonly known as Spanish daggers. Its dagger-like tips can give any garden and home a more dramatic look.

The Spanish dagger may look a bit more like the Mojave yucca, but they have much sharper tips than Mojave yuccas. Their leaves are also colored dark green to blue-gray, compared to the bluish-green leaves of Mojave yuccas.

Fragrant flowers bloom from the plant during late spring to early summer. The cream-colored flowers are held by a tower-like floral stalk that can grow up to 10 feet tall.

The plant thrives in sandy, well-draining soils, so make sure to add horticultural sand to your soil mix. Using loam soil and including perlite in the mix can also be beneficial to the plant.

Best for: Frequent travelers. Spanish daggers require minimal watering and can survive extended periods of drought once established, making them perfect for those who are not always home.

Joshua Tree

Botanical Name: Yucca brevifolia
Origin: Southwestern United States
Size: 15 to 50 feet tall, 1 to 3 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: One to two times a week
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets 

Joshua trees mostly grow in Joshua Tree National Park, but they can also be grown at home if you provide them with the right amount of care. 

They are popular tourist attractions in California because of their beauty and height.

The plant can grow up to 50 feet tall, but it’s rare for those grown at home to reach this height. They grow only about 2 to 3 inches a year, so they can still be grown indoors for quite a long time.

One of Joshua tree’s charms is its surreal appearance. With its palm-like spiky leaves and tall, woody trunks that often have multiple branching arms, it’s easy to understand why several tourists go out of their way to see them.

The trunk is usually fully covered with dry leaves, which can scratch you if you accidentally brush against them. So if you do grow one or come to the park to see them, make sure to be careful.

Best for: People who love unique aesthetics. The plant has a unique appearance that can be interesting to those tired of the usual garden trees.

Soapweed Yucca Plant

Botanical Name: Yucca glauca
Origin: United States, Canada, and Mexico
Size: 2 to 5 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Once every 10 days
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Soapweed yucca or Yucca glauca is the perfect yucca plant for those living in colder regions. It’s a highly cold-tolerant succulent, and it can tolerate a temperature of up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The plant thrives in full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade. It also adapts to a wide variety of environments and is relatively low-maintenance, making it an ideal plant for novice gardeners. 

Soapweed yucca has long, sword-shaped leaves that have a bluish-green color. It usually produces a 3 to 8-foot tall flower stalk with fragrant, bell-shaped, and cream-colored flowers.

Best for: People who experience harsh winters. It can tolerate up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, so the owner won’t have to worry during winters.

Spanish Bayonet

Botanical Name: Yucca aloifolia
Origin: Southeastern United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean
Size: 10 to 15 feet tall, 3 to 5 feet wide
Light: Full sun
Water: Every 2 weeks during summer and spring; Only when the soil is completely dry during winter and fall
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

The Spanish bayonet got its name from its long leaves with sharp tips, reminding people of a bayonet blade. The leaves can grow up to 2 feet long and are typically green, but some may have yellowish tones.

The plant usually grows as a shrub at first until a trunk appears, giving it a tree-like appearance. It can sometimes have multiple rosettes of leaves, leading to a multi-branch trunk.

Although it’s a slow-growing plant, it’s often advisable not to grow it indoors because of its sharp leaves. If your kids and pets accidentally hit the plants, they’re likely to get hurt.

Best for: Homes near the coastal area. Spanish bayonet is one of the yucca species that is salt-tolerant, so it can thrive even near seawater.

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