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Sandy Loam

true cold-hardiness of Yucca Elephantipes?

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Sandy Loam

Hello. I have a question about Yucca Elephantipes/Yucca Guatemalayensis. What is its true cold-hardiness? I see that davesgarden.com has it listed as a Zone 9b tree. However, there are several of these trees growing to enormous sizes around this town, Gainesville, in northern Florida. They are obviously old enough to have endured a couple of very cold snaps over the years. Unless they are all in micro-climates, they would have experienced a night where the low temperature dropped to 17 degrees Fahrenheit a few years ago, although only very briefly. This must be more of a Zone 8b plant unless I am mistaken. Does anyone know?

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Monòver

I have Yucca elephantipes in my old garden.

A few years ago we have one freeze of -9°c(15'8F).

No damages.

But this is a very dry place and the day after, was sunny and warm.

The same day, every washintonias, phoenix canariensis and livistonas decipiens was fried.

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Cikas

The leaves are damaged at 28F.

This yucca is the most cold sensitive yucca.

But grows very fast.

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Eric in Orlando

Yucca elephantipes is now known as Yucca gigantea.

In Florida there seems to be 2 different forms of it that differ.

The first form is a larger growing plant. It can easily grow 15-20 ft tall. The leaves are long, 1-2ft and are dark green and glossy. It is more tender, they show damage below 25-26F and below about 20-22F will freeze them back. I never see this one in nurseries anymore, just in older yards. There are a couple nice variegated forms; 'Variegata' and 'Striata'. Both have yellow/gold striping.

The other form is the one commonly sold in the trade now, often sold as a houseplant as "yucca cane". It has shorter leaves that are a medium green color and not glossy. It stays shorter, 8-10ft maybe to 12. It is also hardier. I have seen speculation this may be a hybrid with another Yucca. 'Silver Star' is a nice variegated form with white stripes. But it can get fungal spotting here in FL unless it gets good air circulation. 'Silver Sword' looks very similar. 'Jewel' is a variegated selection with yellow/gold striping.

I have a photo with leaves of several together for comparison. I'll try to find it.

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Monòver

I have the first yucca that Eric says, the Yucca with dark green leaves.

Near this, one yucca jewel and one Yucca filifera.

Every winters we have two or three nights with -5 or -6°C.

I never saw damages.

But is a very dry place and they are in a fast drainage soil.

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Cikas

I have the first yucca that Eric says, the Yucca with dark green leaves.

Near this, one yucca jewel and one Yucca filifera.

Every winters we have two or three nights with -5 or -6°C.

I never saw damages.

But is a very dry place and they are in a fast drainage soil.

Maybe yucca aloifolia? That is very common yucca. And looks somewhat simmilar to yucca elephantipes. But it is more cold hardy.

I have many yucca elephantipes in my garden. All of them where damaged when we gone below freezing during one night last winter. Lowest temperature was -2C ( 28F ).

This is how one of them looked after 28F.

rsz_p1020187.jpg

rsz_p1020188.jpg

They are not very cold hardy at all.

But they grow fast. Now they look great again.

I think that some of you are mixing Yucca aloifolia with yucca elephantipes.

Yucca aloifolia

Yucca_aloifolia_-_Madeira_1.jpg

yucca_aloifolia_1.jpg

Edited by Cikas

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Monòver

I am sure it is elephantipes.

I took the cuttings from a big yucca that i was pruning.

I don't have aloifolia it is common here, but too dangerous for me and my dogs.

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Walt

Many years ago Eric stated (as he did above) that there were two forms of Yucca elephantipes (gigantea). That was enlightening to me because I was disappointed with the yucca I had, in terms of its growth. I then figured I had the smaller form.

I bought my first one back in 1998 and planted it on the coldest area of my property. In all the years I've had it, only once did I see it get some slight cold damage. I believe that came from temperatures in the very low 20s with hard frost. This yucca never grew to the size I saw some very large ones in my environs, and I didn't understand why.

But about 5-6 years ago I bought another Yucca gigantea at my local Home Depot. This one seemed to be bigger in every way and grew much faster and taller than my original one. And it's still growing and branching. I'm very pleased with it. It's flowered many times. I was so pleased with this particular yucca that I accepted another one from a neighbor friend down the street that wanted to get rid of it. It was small and in a 5 gallon pot. I planted it last year. So far I can't tell what form it is.

IMO, yucca elephantipes/gigantea is probably more a zone 9a plant, at least a Florida 9a (meaning only 1-3 nights each winter where the low temperature may drop below 25 degrees for a very short duration). I only say that as my yuccas didn't incur cold/frost damage in both January and December of 2010, and I had several nights below 25 degrees. In fact, I had one thermometer record 20.8 degrees on the coldest night.

In the below YouTube video I made this past July, you can see my larger form Yucca gigantea beginning at the 8:16 mark. Not the best shot of it as I wasn't really concentrating on the yuccaj just walking and commenting generally while walking through a small wooded area of my property.

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tank

I have a very large yucca that I always thought was Y. gigantea. It has seen temps below 20F with some damage, but always bounces back. Unfortunately the weevils that attack yuccas and agave REALLY like this plant and I'm growing tired of trying to keep it looking decent. Unfortunate as the largest plant is about 15'+ with 12 or so stalks and a base of about 36" around.

I'll try and post some pics. This plant is definitely not Y. aloifolia. The leaves are droopy, pliable and no where near as dangerous as aliofolia.

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Eric in Orlando

Back in the 1980s we had 3 record freezes in FL; Dec. 1983, Jan. 1985, and then Dec. 1989. All 3 freezes had temps down to near 20F in Orlando. There were lots of mature Yucca gigantea in local landscapes then, the big form with the long, dark green, glossy leaves. They had foliage burn in the '83 and '85 freezes. But most froze to the ground following the '89 freeze. Some froze part way but most went to the roots. They grew back well and were large plants again after 10 years or so. We had a 20ft striped form that froze all the way down in '89 and it is now 20ft. But it reverted to solid green, it lost the striping. The '89 freeze had a very long duration and 2 nights at 19-20F. I don't remember seeing any of the shorter, hardier form then. They seemed to show up in the nursery trade in the early 1990s.

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Cikas

That is strange.

It seems that my Yucca elephantipes are of some special very sensitive forms. Because frost here is also very rare occurrence.

I agree with davesgarden.com ratings of them.

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Monòver

That is strange.

It seems that my Yucca elephantipes are of some special very sensitive forms. Because frost here is also very rare occurrence.

I agree with davesgarden.com ratings of them.

I think your Yuccas has wet and cool winters.

I have strong frost in winter, but here, the winters are dry and sunny.

We have -6°C in the night, but the same day the temperature can climb to 15°C.

And always, with dry soil.

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Cikas

Yes are winters are more humid. But we still can have a coherent month of full sun without any rain in winter and then have a few days with alot of rain. We in one day can gain a large amount of rain.

Weather is here warm when it is rainy. And colder when it is sunny ( during night ).

Cold here comes with dry Bora winds. So if temperature below freezing happen, weather is dry, not humid.

But it is very windy. That night when we have freezing temperatures we also had hurricane strong wind.

So maybe freezing temperatures that night + hurricane strong wind, are reason why mine where damaged at -2C ( 28F ).

Edited by Cikas

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alex4294

Yucca elephantipes or gigantea are pretty common in city gardens in the south of the UK, which is odd as I've never seen them for sale as outdoor plants, only indoor plants. My guess is that people dump them outside after a while and they manage to grow. They look pretty good for a plant listed as 9b, so I'm assuming they're quite a bit hardier than estimated on Dave's Garden. They can take temperatures as low as the mid twenties with little or no foliar damage. Also, after these freezes, temperatures in the daytime will sometimes struggle to reach 40F if that, so I'm assuming they're pretty tough plants, especially since our winters are pretty wet too.

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Axel Amsterdam

 

Oops picture doesnt upload. Anyway, it was of a large elephantipes in London. There are dozens of large ones around, they take the occasional -5C/-6C in a winterdamp, cloudy city with daytems around 5C.

Edited by Axel Amsterdam

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Axel Amsterdam

These are what I believe the original elephantipes/gigantea with the long dark glossy leaves. Growing in Malaga Spain.

Are these less hardy then the regular ones in the trade nowadays? 

Foto 04-01-20 om 20.45.jpg

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Silas_Sancona
4 minutes ago, Axel Amsterdam said:

These are what I believe the original elephantipes/gigantea with the long dark glossy leaves. Growing in Malaga Spain.

Are these less hardy then the regular ones in the trade nowadays? 

Foto 04-01-20 om 20.45.jpg

As far as i am aware there's no difference between darker and lighter green looking specimens..  Grew up with these planted all over where i lived in California.. All would show freeze damage ( to some degree ) somewhere in the 20s. Even if beheaded by a hard freeze, ..or a chain saw, they'd come back with a vengeance by the following summer.

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Sandy Loam

Hmmmmm. The plants in this photo look similar to mine, but mine do not have this concave leaf shape which you see in the photo (leaf edges turned upwards). Also, mine have droopy leaves. In the photo, it looks like the plant's leaves are quite straight and rigid (not droopy at all).  I therefore cannot comment on the cold-hardiness of the yuccas in this photo since they are a bit different from mine. Sorry.

 

Having said this, none of my yucca Gigantea/elephantipes have ever suffered any cold damage. Some are sheltered but others are out in the sun with no protection from winter cold nights. I am located way up in the north of Florida where we do have several cold nights each winter.  We are located several hours away from the tropical zone in the extreme south of Florida, so these yuccas will be tested here.  I don't know whether I have a hybrid or not (Home Depot origin), but since my Yucca trees suffer zero damage each winter, I can't help but wonder whether my species is a zone 8a or 7B survival plant. I'm located in zone in USDA 9a.

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NorCalKing

I have these in my garden. They can easily take 27°/28° with little to no damage. Bought mine as an indoor plant from HD and it's now over 6' tall.

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Estlander
47 minutes ago, Sandy Loam said:

Having said this, none of my yucca Gigantea/elephantipes have ever suffered any cold damage. Some are sheltered but others are out in the sun with no protection from winter cold nights. I am located way up in the north of Florida where we do have several cold nights each winter.  We are located several hours away from the tropical zone in the extreme south of Florida, so these yuccas will be tested here.  I don't know whether I have a hybrid or not (Home Depot origin), but since my Yucca trees suffer zero damage each winter, I can't help but wonder whether my species is a zone 8a or 7B survival plant. I'm located in zone in USDA 9a.

Same here. We have many large Yucca Gigantea/Elepantipes in Destin(coastal FL panhandle 9A), including a few in my yard. 
Never seen them damaged here either. 
Mine saw 27F with icy rain and 23-22F the next night back in January 2018. No damage whatsoever. Can’t believe these are rated as ‘never below 50F’ on tags in Lowes/HD. Shows how much they know, lol. 

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Silas_Sancona
16 minutes ago, Estlander said:

Same here. We have many large Yucca Gigantea/Elepantipes in Destin(coastal FL panhandle 9A), including a few in my yard. 
Never seen them damaged here either. 
Mine saw 27F with icy rain and 23-22F the next night back in January 2018. No damage whatsoever. Can’t believe these are rated as ‘never below 50F’ on tags in Lowes/HD. Shows how much they know, lol. 

Lol.. "....never below 50F " that's funny for sure..   Every single specimen in CA would've been dead decades ago if that were true.  -Quietly raises hand- I'm sure there are many people who have tried ( ...and tried  ..and... ) to remove 'em, who would have celebrated watching them melt though. :mrlooney: Can't count how many times i'd end up with my hands sliced 'n diced from trimming a monster that once grew in my grandparents yard as a kid. Interesting that your specimen held up w/out any damage in the low 20's, and near freezing rain/ice.

Edited by Silas_Sancona
edit
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Estlander
5 minutes ago, Silas_Sancona said:

Interesting that your specimen held up w/out any damage in the low 20's, and near freezing rain/ice.

And mine weren’t even established at that time yet having been planted just 3 months prior. Was a bit worried how they would handle that two night freeze, but absolutely no damage on any of mine or on any around town. 
 

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Chester B

I'm actually thinking of trying these in a favorable microclimate here.  We get very little freezing temps (a few nights),  and short freeze durations (a few hours).  Once April hits I'm hitting Homedepot and planting it out.  I have seen them growing out at the coast here, but they are at least half a zone warmer.

I'm willing to risk the $20.

Edited by Chester B
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rings
On 9/10/2015 at 3:27 AM, Walt said:

Many years ago Eric stated (as he did above) that there were two forms of Yucca elephantipes (gigantea). That was enlightening to me because I was disappointed with the yucca I had, in terms of its growth. I then figured I had the smaller form.

 

I bought my first one back in 1998 and planted it on the coldest area of my property. In all the years I've had it, only once did I see it get some slight cold damage. I believe that came from temperatures in the very low 20s with hard frost. This yucca never grew to the size I saw some very large ones in my environs, and I didn't understand why.

 

But about 5-6 years ago I bought another Yucca gigantea at my local Home Depot. This one seemed to be bigger in every way and grew much faster and taller than my original one. And it's still growing and branching. I'm very pleased with it. It's flowered many times. I was so pleased with this particular yucca that I accepted another one from a neighbor friend down the street that wanted to get rid of it. It was small and in a 5 gallon pot. I planted it last year. So far I can't tell what form it is for ring size .

 

IMO, yucca elephantipes/gigantea is probably more a zone 9a plant, at least a Florida 9a (meaning only 1-3 nights each winter where the low temperature may drop below 25 degrees for a very short duration). I only say that as my yuccas didn't incur cold/frost damage in both January and December of 2010, and I had several nights below 25 degrees. In fact, I had one thermometer record 20.8 degrees on the coldest night.

 

In the below YouTube video I made this past July, you can see my larger form Yucca gigantea beginning at the 8:16 mark. Not the best shot of it as I wasn't really concentrating on the yuccaj just walking and commenting generally while walking through a small wooded area of my property.

 

 

Beatifull plant, Yucca elephantipes. Thanks for this information.

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Walt
5 minutes ago, rings said:

Beatifull plant, Yucca elephantipes. Thanks for this information.

Two years and one month later (after taking the above YouTube video), Hurricane Irma snapped the top of the trunk off of that yucca, but it has since recovered and regrown. I think they are great plants. I like the looks of them, plus, they don't seem to have any disease or insect problems,  I don't need to fertilize them, and they aren't messy (excessive leaf drop, but lay like a petticoat against the trunks).

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jimmyt

I have what is left of a Yucca elephantipes here in central Texas(8b).  It is planted in an open cactus bed.  Mother nature taught it a lesson several years ago and froze it to ground level even with frost cloth over it.  Temps often drop into the 'teens at night during winter here.  15-20 F is not uncommon.  Though I thought she was dead it has made a slow recovery but now is only a small plant compared to the 3 ft tall specimen of before.  Same thing happened to a Beaucarnea recurvata planted next to it.   These 2 will always need some protection from freeze in my zone.  I would have to say the Yucca elephantipes is zone 9a minimum.    Another sad personal story.........sigh.... 

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Silas_Sancona
3 hours ago, Walt said:

Two years and one month later (after taking the above YouTube video), Hurricane Irma snapped the top of the trunk off of that yucca, but it has since recovered and regrown. I think they are great plants. I like the looks of them, plus, they don't seem to have any disease or insect problems,  I don't need to fertilize them, and they aren't messy (excessive leaf drop, but lay like a petticoat against the trunks).

Funny you mention insect pests.. back in the early 90s, started noticing that some sort of Beetle was damaging the heads on specimens back in San Jose..  While damage was minor, most of the time,  Some would become infested enough that the stems would ooze sap. Some would hang on, looking awful.. Others would snap in fall or winter wind storms.

Did a recent street view tour around my old neighborhood back there and noticed that most of the Y. elephantes specimens i grew up around are gone. What few i could see look like someone cut them down several feet. Doing so to curtail size wasn't all that unusual but they'd usually recover, height-wise, in no time. Wondering if this insect is partially to blame in many being  completely removed as seriously damaging frost / freeze events are very uncommon there.

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Axel Amsterdam

This elephantipes in Barcelona seems the genuine old style soft tip yucca.  

Schermafbeelding 2020-01-24 om 09.45.22.png

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Axel Amsterdam

Aloifolia on the left and old fashioned soft tip elephantipes on the right

858F5B17-98C0-4BA8-9E8D-ABCBCFFADE91.jpeg

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Axel Amsterdam

Soft tip on the left, regular trade yucca on the right

BB693431-4B1D-4C59-9228-AA9C4798F29C.jpeg

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Axel Amsterdam

Nice intermediate between soft floppy tip and pointy tip, with concave leave tips

218E0077-BFD7-4FF4-9440-EAC0DDB7D81A.jpeg

Edited by Axel Amsterdam

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