Mexican lily turns heads with its good looks

10/26/2013 12:00 AM

10/24/2013 6:20 PM

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum Durable Delights, 30 can’t-fail, easy-care plants well adapted to our region.

Mexican lily

Beschorneria yuccoides

Size: Up to 4 feet; flower stalk can reach 8 feet

Exposure: Full sun, partial shade; prefers some afternoon shade in Sacramento

Bloom season: Late spring, summer

Pruning needs: Little or none

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once or twice a month.

Snapshot: Like an agave but without the stiff and painful spines, this handsome succulent is marvelous as a large container specimen as well as a focal point in the dry garden. The blue-gray leaves arch and drop, doing best in afternoon shade. In late spring, the towering flower stalks produce interested red and green blooms, a favorite of hummingbirds. Besides drought tolerance, the Mexican lily (which is not a lily) also is cold-tolerant down to 20 degrees. In the Arboretum Terrace garden (where it is protected from frost), it showed no damage from this past winter’s cold spell. You can see specimens in the Arboretum Terrace garden as well as the arboretum’s Ruth Risdon Storer Valley-Wise Garden on the UC Davis campus.

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