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Beschorneria yuccoides (Mexican Lilly)

A plant usually associated with mild gardens on the Atlantic Coast and yet, it’s been growing in Cambridge Botanic Gardens (admittedly with a little protection, but only a little) for many years and there is a large clump growing unprotected by a pond in Staunton Park.

The key seems to be very sharp drainage (as is often the case with plants from dry parts of the world) and also to avoid planting out when small. Also, the species seems to display a number of different varieties and, possibly, there may be varying degrees of frost hardiness within these different types. This remains a suspicion – it’s a rare plant in cultivation and we have no proof – yet. So – the ideal conditions are, very well drained in a sunny position and to plant out as large as possible – depending on your own particular climate. i.e., the the colder the climate, the bigger the plant needs to be to survive. Remember, we’ve given this an amber label, but it’s probably fair to say it would come at the red end of amber.

Probably does better in a rich soil, so try feeding – we use ‘Blood, Fish and Bone’.Beschorneria and the closely related Furcrea behave interestingly in a pot. Leave them in the same sized pot and they will reach a certain size and just stay like that, quite possibly for years. Stick it in a bigger pot and it rapidly grows and then stops again. So – if it’s bound for a pot, make sure the pot is REALLY BIG.When the conditions are right, they form huge, soft rosettes (4ft across), the individual leaves, broad, slightly floppy, sword shaped with a beautiful powdery blue look to them. It has a superficial resemblance to a large Yucca plant but flowers earlier (April onwards) and the flower is, predominantly, red, trying to stick up but often flopping over. It forms spreading clumps after many years and is one of the best and most exotic looking plants to be found in a British garden.

Fine examples in many south west coastal gardens such as Coleton Fishacre, Overbecks (both in South Devon) and Tresco Abbey Gardens.

Propagated by us from seed.


N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.

Hardiness traffic light amber

Hardiness level Amber

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Hardy in the Home Counties if sensibly sited (avoiding severe frost pockets, for example). Many Amber Labelled Plants are from cuttings from well-established plants that have survived many harsh winters in the South-East.

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.