Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Time To Mourn Yucca Linearifolia

I first blogged about this plant over five years ago.
Five years and two cameras ago: 
Yucca linarifolia
 


At the time, it had been planted in that spot at least a couple of years, if not longer.  It's reasonable to say it was a well established plant at death.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, it looked consistently gorgeous and healthy.  Now,  suddenly, kaput.  
I'm surprised, and wondering what did it in.  The one unusual condition of late were the two significant summer rainfalls we got, the first from Tropical Storm Dolores, the second from Tropical Storm Linda.  Did warm-weather rain enable a bloom of soil-based bacteria that caused root disease?  I'm baffled--a long-established plant cannot be blamed on weakness due to lack of a root system, or sloppy growmanship by the original grower, pre-purchase.  I've never done anything for that plant since I planted it except admire its beauty.  No fertilizer, no extra water, zilch.  

There was a cluster of new foliage emerging;  I touched that, and it came off in my hand.  It died much faster than it grew.  It's taken more than seven years to get as tall as I am.  Well, that's gardening, ain't it?  
I dug out three Yucca 'Margaritaville' last October from the west slope with much painful effort, and they've been sprouting new plants ever since with great enthusiasm.  Another Yucca,  'Color Guard' always looked unhappy, so I pulled that out several years ago, careful to get all the roots I could find--and it's back, at linearifolia's feet. 
Yucca 'Color Guard', after being removed:

Not all foliage plants have broken my heart lately.  I've split my clump of variegated Aloe noblis several times over several years.  Some parts of it have become more variegated:
 Some have stayed about as variegated...
 Some have reverted to green, but produced highly variegated offspring.
 On the east facing west slope,  the 'Bright Star' Yuccas have settled in, and present dramatic contrast to Cordyline 'Festival Grass'. 
 In a shaded corner, Philodendron 'Golden Xanadu' has finally seemed to establish itself,  because there are a lot more leaves this year than it has ever had.  This plant has been slow.  I added some bromileads around it to jazz up the corner a bit. 
There--some momentary distraction from my poor Yucca.  I wonder if it will come back from a piece of root... 
Maybe if I wanted to keep it, I should have dug it out.  See how I mourned it here.

24 comments:

  1. May be your Yucca linearifolia was thinking there is a time of rise, shine and sinking. It´s a pity, but surely there will be new Yuccas and Aloes suitable for the spot. I´m always amazed how you grow all these succulents just outdoors in the soil. We have to pamper them all year to keep them going.
    Wish you happy gardening with all your spiky plants.
    Regards, Janneke

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    1. Thank you, Janneke, you are so kind. Wishing you beautiful walks with Snark in your misty and beautiful landscape and garden so full of roses.

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  2. What a loss! Don't underestimate the impact that a large amount of rain can have -- I had a beautiful Japanese Maple die days after we got 4" of rain from a hurricane remnant in 2008 (?). One day beautiful and healthy looking, the next day dead. It wasn't 7 years in the ground, but still hurt (and still a mystery).

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    1. Like you I've had lost some special plants. A Japanese Maple--ouch!

      Well, I'll put something new there. It's not a dead plant, it's a shopping opportunity!

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  3. How very distressing about the Yucca linearifolia. I just bought my first one. It's not in the ground yet, but it is going into a raised bed that's very sandy and drains way too fast for things like Monarda. I hope mine does well. Maybe yours will come back from the roots. I'll keep hoping.

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  4. I can sympathize (as I'm sure most of your readers can). A week ago my Grevillea x 'Neil Bell' was as lovely as can be. On Monday I looked at it and realized it was dead. The whole thing, just like that. I resorted to distractions as well.

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    1. Sometimes I think an obvious killer, like a gopher eating all the roots--that's almost better in a way, because you know why. It's the mysteries that are harder to forget.

      We both have lots of other plants to distract!

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  5. The suddenness, and the new-leaves-coming-off-in-your-hands bit, certainly makes it seem like a rot. That was a lot of rain for the time of year, and think how warm the soil was. OTOH, everything else in the sector seemed to make it through? Maybe just luck of the draw on where an existing "seam" of bacteria lay in wait, ready to explode...

    My one colorful yucca, 'Color Guard' is an evergreen anchor of the main border, which has encouraged me to try to have pale yellow in one form or another as an echo over as long a season as possible -- otherwise, 'CG' has a distinct "from another planet" vibe. The echoes begin with 'City of Haarlem' hyacinths and pale yellow daffodils, on to yellow peonies and 'Carolina Moonlight' baptisia, then daylilies, and in the late summer 'Sheila's Sunshine' Helianthus and the fall foliage of witch hazels and Calycanthus. Next year I hope to add some yellow salvias.

    'Color Guard' has {knock wood} been happy in that same spot for twenty years, occasionally multiplying and needing the oldest parts lopped out. Blooms every third or fourth year, but much more sparsely than the straight Y. filamentosa elsewhere in the border (another sort of echo, nice in winter and in bloom) That one's self-sown; Y.f. is sort of native here, but is as plentiful as it is because so many old farms have them planted on road banks.

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    1. Yes, I think Fusarium rot by the smell. The soil out there is bone dry,, but the trunk is brown mush.

      Your yellow-through-the-seasons scheme sounds wonderful! I never think about yellow being a favorite, but it's so cheerful and happy a color.

      The 'Color Guard' I see in climates like TX looks so much better than mine. It doesn't seem to like the climate here as much as elsewhere.

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  6. Perhaps some sort of bacteria has indeed proliferated or even fungal disease? Although saying that, one of our yuccas did something similar a couple of years ago, the spear of new foliage just fell off then a week later a flower spike emerged where the spear was. Months later a new spear emerged and carried on as normal.

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    1. I think maybe Fusarium; the entire stem is mushy, rotted, with a bad odor. I'm in the process of digging it out. Onward to new plant adventures!

      Glad to hear yours came back.

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  7. A baffling mystery indeed. I just looked it up: Yucca linearifolia is native to the Chihuahuan Desert (Nuevo León, Coahuila), which gets most of its rainfall in the summer, and smaller amounts in the winter. So it couldn't have been your summer storms unless your soil is extremely heavy, which I doubt.

    But no matter what caused it, it's a major loss. A plant that size is stunning, and I would be devastated.

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    1. No, the soil is light, light, light. The drainage is quick, quick, quick. I feel like I failed it somehow, but I don't know what I did or didn't do. Might have been all the warm warm nights that enabled the pathogen to take hold. The ocean temps are 5 degrees above normal and it has made our overnight temperatures correspondingly above normal and unpleasant.

      It was such a beautiful plant.

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  8. The mystifying stuff is so frustrating , but smelly -ness seems like a dead give -away for rot. Maybe this was festering for awhile and the storms did it in.

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    1. Yes, I think you are right. I guess I won't move the Y. queretoriensis to this spot. I'll put something non-Agavoideae there instead (and Fusarium-resistant).

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  9. That was a beautiful specimen, a real jewel. Really smart placement you had, as well, and a species one tends to regard as indestructible.

    These freak summer storms the last few years have kicked up the crappest incidents of fusarium (and some pythium and anthracnose) I've seen since I was a little'un. Almost everything touchy about overhead or excessive water and high soil temperatures I've lost has been on a bank or a berm, where you expect to have a bit of wiggle room with the extra drainage.

    You've got a great hand with yucca, though. Glad to see examples of your others. Those 'Bright Star' are delicious.

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    1. I did think they were indestructible, which is what made such surprise and bafflement. I am thinking the endless warm nights combined with the couple of rains is the likely trigger. Warm nights here are thankfully so rare. Warm nights are why the Pentas looks so perfect, I thought. Low last night was 74F, yecch!

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  10. Those sudden deaths are always disconcerting, not to say that the slow deaths aren't just as painful. One of my 3 Yucca 'Bright Star' is also looking wonky and I can't account for it as the 2 others just a few feet away look fine.

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    1. Give it some more time--they are soooper tough!

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  11. So sorry you have lost your beautiful yucca, it is sad when any plant dies. I have lost a few established plants and it is a mystery to me what could have caused them to die so suddenly. I doubt that you did anything to cause its downfall, I don't think any plants have had a more attentive owner than yourself.
    Enjoy the rest of your beautiful garden dear Hoover, that will cheer you up. :)
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. You are right Dianne. The garden always cheers us up, there's always something fun out there--flowers, birds, lizards...what would we do without our gardens?

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  12. A shopping opportunity, yes -- my kind of mindful meditation.

    Every time I look around the garden, I'm making mental lists of plants that will need special protection this winter. El Niño conditions are going to make things interesting. Cold weather rain, warm weather rain... I should probably stop worrying and just be thankful that we're getting rain :~/

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    1. Lots of spots on the Aloes, I think. I might be spraying some fungicide, but on Aloes, not roses. That will be a twist.

      I hope to turn off the irrigation system for months. Looking forward to that!

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