Scientific: Hesperaloe parviflora
Common: red hesperaloe
Family: Asparagaceae (subfamily Agavoideae)
Origin: Chihuahuan desert from New Mexico and Texas south into old Mexico.

Pronounciation: Hes-per-AL-oo par-vi-FLOR-a

Hardiness zones
10-16, 18-21
USDA 8-10 (arid and semi-arid regions)

Landscape Use: Floral and textural accent, desert plantings, container plant. Interesting when massed into groups; strongly attracts hummingbirds (image captured in my backyard by famous Bulgarian artist and photographer, Hari Ivanov Atanasov).

Form & Character: Basally clumping, upright, agave like, stiff, dry and xeric, informal, unconfined. Applications of supplemental water (the norm in Phoenix) increase the vigor and ultimate size of this attractive herbaceous perennial by two to three times over what size this plant attains in its native desert habitat.

Growth Habit: Red yucca is an evergreen, herbaceous perennial. It is generally a slow grower, basally clumping to 2 to 4 feet tall (there is genotypic variation that expresses as larger or smaller), but with flower stalks that extend up to 8 to 10 feet tall. Water availability will have a profound effect on its eventual size.

Foliage/texture: Red yucca leaves are gray green, curved, strap-like leaves to 30 inches with numerous white filament hairs on margins; medium fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: True to its common name, red yucca produces numerous long and extended flower stalks with numerous flowers with salmon pink petals and yellow styles. Fruit are a green to brown (when mature) multiple carpulate capsule, somewhat ugly.

Seasonal color: Festive display of flowers during spring. The young flower stalks are almost as colorful and attractive as the flowers themselves.

Temperature: Red yucca is highly adapted to southwest desert conditions.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Grows best in gravelly, well-drained soil.

Watering: Drought tolerant, infrequent summer irrigations (it's a Chihuahuan Desert native after all). More robust and faster growth will occur with more water; thus, control supplemental watering to regulate red yucca size and vigor.

Pruning: Remove old flower stalks during summer. Shearing red yucca by giving it a 1950's era 'spike' hair style is really bad form. Sadly, this abusive practice is wielded upon red yucca shrubs regularly throughout the Phoenix area by ignoble 'horticultural clods' that call themselves 'landscape professionals'. Those that do this abusive practice to red yucca are manifesting their horticultural illiteracy.

Propagation: Seed, division of clumps of mature specimens.

Disease and pests: Fungal root rots in damp, heavy soils, aphids on emerging flower stalks during early spring.

Additional comments: Red yucca is currently a landscape staple in Phoenix and is now found in southern California and Texas landscapes as well. It is an excellent "smaller" arid shrub that is well suited for today's smaller, drier urban spaces. 'Yellow' is one (albiet uncreative) name for the yellow flowering variant of this species. Though novel, in my humble opinion the yellow flower color is not as attractive as the red flowering phenotypes. There are several new and exciting red cultivars including 'Sandia Glow', 'Desert Dusk', and 'Desert Flamenco'. One amazing red flowering cultivar is 'Brakelights' P.P.A.F. This patented cultivar from Mountain States Wholesale Nursery in Glendale, AZ, is a compact little plant to about 2 feet tall and wide and can bloom for up to 9 months during the year in Phoenix with traffic stopping red flower spikes. Whoa doggie!!!

Hesperaloe parviflora can hybridize with H. funifera. Here is Hesperaloe x 'Pink Parade', a parviflora and funifera hybrid, which is also from Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.

'Hespero' is latin for 'western'; thus Hesperaloe literally translates western aloe.