So one of the things I've put off too long (as you will see in a minute) is dividing my Yucca filimentosa. I was raised a desert rat--in Glendale, Arizona--and although I've lived in and loved Virginia for most of my life, my family ties are in the West and I try to fill my house and yard with reminders of it. And besides being a little echo of my own past, this plant has a past of its own. It comes from my old house, which was a heavily wooded lot of about an acre. When I first moved in many many years ago, I wanted to plant herbs, and there was only one small area with full sun. The previous owners had filled it with low growing juniper and a yucca plant--and in my garden naivete (this was my first house), I pulled them up and tossed them back in the woods (I've learned my lesson. . .)
I'm so glad I didn't toss them in the trash--because several years later, when something drew me back into the woods, there was the yucca plant, flourishing in leaf mold and in the shade. I brought it back to its place in the sun--and when I moved, it was one of the plants I brought with with me.
Yucca isn't a plant one normally associates with Virginia. By all accounts, it likes sandy soil and dry conditions, and it's prolific in desert states. Nevertheless, it's a native plant in the Eastern U.S., and it's almost as popular in VA as it is in AZ, despite our heavy clay and humidity. And it's a very low maintenance plant (as mine's tenacity in its woodland exile shows).
Of course, in my gardens anyway, the low maintenance plants suffer from benign neglect, and I noticed when the yucca was sending up its 6-foot stems of white flowers this summer that it needed dividing--so when the weather cooled down a bit, I resolved to give it some attention.
(And talk about lack of attention--although I started taking pictures for this blog in late May, this is the only one I have of the yucca plant, right before it bloomed--the photo's not great to begin with, and the stalk is barely visible on the left side of the photo, at the far end of the white garden).
Here's a more recent close-up. Yucca can be propagated from seed, from cuttings, or from the offsets that grow up on the sides of the parent plant. It grows from a very dense rhizome, so division isn't especially easy--but this plant clearly needs dividing.
Here's one baby:
The offsets don't just pop out--I had to dig up the whole plant just to see how many there actually were and to be sure that I got sufficient root on the new plants. Here's a photo of three offsets just on one side:
When I could cut out a piece of rhizome, I did--but in some of the denser parts, I had to cut the root by inserting two shovels back-to-back and prying it apart. The root on this offset maybe gives a sense of the size of the mass I was dividing.
I ended up with many more babies than I anticipated--I thought I'd be taking out about three, but I ended up with nine.
I transplanted three of them into other parts of the garden, and I added a little bit of hummous around the parent when I replanted it (but not a lot--they don't need rich soil). I potted up the rest of the babies and nestled the pots against the parent--it's thriving there, so I figure the light is right. Yucca is hardy to Zone 4, so the pots should be fine in our 7b climate until I find new spots (or new homes) for them in the spring.
The little orange pots have little pieces of rhizome in them that chipped off when I was separating the offsets--we'll see what comes up. The plant grows in 3x3' clumps and sends up magnificant 6' flower stalks in summer; it's almost maintenance free and incredibly drought resistant; the deer don't bother it . . . I think I can find a spot for these little ones.
P.S. on time, posts, and desert plants: I started this posting a couple of weeks ago, and it's maybe a little ironic that I'm actually finishing it in Arizona, where the yucca is still in full bloom. When I left Virginia 2 days ago, 8 of the 9 transplants looked great--maybe I'll design a yucca allee or something. And I'll be posting on my trip to Arizona soon--but not until I provide a little more evidence that I actually do occasionally work in my garden!