Looking great in the garden now is the false red agave, Beschorneria. Beschorneria is a small, little-known genus of only 8 species of plants in the Asparagaceae family–first cousin to the better known genus, Agave. Beschornerias are native from Northern Mexico, south to Honduras. Through the years, we’ve grown 7 of the 8 species, having not bothered to try B. wrightii, due to it’s tropical origin.
The only species that has proven reliable and evergreen here is Beschorneria septentrionalis–a species introduced by the former Yucca Do Nursery from their collections in Northern Mexico.
Several years ago, we were given seed of hybrids of B. septentrionalis x B. yuccoides ssp. dekosteriana. Most of the hybrid plants died because they inherited too many genes from the more tender B. yuccoides, but two plants still remain. Below is one we named Beschorneria ‘Fire Towers’, which appears close to B. septentrionalis in appearance, but perhaps with a bit more vigor.
The genus Hesperaloe is a small genus of just 7 species that are related to aloe, yucca, and agave. All 7 species of hesperaloe are native to the Chihuahuan desert in the southern US and the area around Coahuila in northern Mexico.
The “red” part of red yucca is the flowers that appear on spikes held well above the foliage during summer. Hesperaloe flowers are tubular too, just the way hummingbirds like them. Unlike agave and yucca, hesperaloe leaves do not have spines and are better for tight spaces or gardens that have children and pets running through them. Hesperaloe clumps are packed densely with narrow leaves and from a distance look like ornamental grass.
As with all desert plants, hesperaloe must have full sun and excellent drainage, especially in winter, to prevent root rot. They are also salt tolerant plants. Try pairing hesperaloe with other drought-tolerant colorful plants such as alstroemeria, crocosmia, and gaura to create a drought-tolerant wildlife haven.