Yucca Doodle Do!

Friday is one of my favorite days of the week, seeing how the weekend is just around the corner. But Friday gets even better when a big box of plants arrives on my doorstep, like it did this morning.


After opening the box, the first glimpse gives nothing away…


…but the packing slip, posted visibly on the outside, does:


So many intriguing names: “horrida,” “Meat Claw,” “Frostbite,” and especially “Extruding Pain” (a freebie).

After digging through the layers of newspaper and shredded paper strips, I come across the first treasure: Agave xylonacantha ‘Frostbite’.


And what could this paper-topped beauty be?


Agave × ‘Royal Spine’.


Ten minutes later, I had unwrapped my six agaves:


Three were bare root, the other three were in pots, but I decided to put them all in new containers:


Agave xylonacantha ‘Frostbite’
Agave horrida ssp. perotensis
Agave flexispina
Agave flexispina ‘Extruding Pain’
Agave parrasana ‘Meat Claw’
Agave × ‘Royal Spine’

Aside from the Agave flexispina ‘Extruding Pain’, which was a freebie, I had bought them during Yucca Do’s big summer sale. I had asked the nursery to hold them until now, and they did. This was my third order from Yucca Do and as before I received beautiful, healthy plants. In my experience, they are one of the best mail order succulent nurseries in the country. I highly recommend them, especially if you’re looking for less common plants.

I had also ordered two shrubs for the front yard. The first one is a compact cenizo, Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Compacta’. The UC Davis Arboretum has a regular-sized specimen and I admire its velvety leaves every time I visit. Mine is a compact cultivar, just perfect for our small yard. I can’t wait for the beautiful purple flowers.


The second shrub is a red bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). My wife and I fell in love with it during our Southwest road trip. We saw it blooming its head off from Needles, CA to Tucson, AZ.

I was very happy to see that Yucca Do carries it. However, their web site does warn prospective buyers:

This Caesalpinia is susceptible to shipping shock, where the leaves sometimes turn yellow and fall off during or just after the shipping process. However the plants tend to recover quickly if watered well and given a little time. Do not panic if your plant arrives with yellow leaves.

The plant I received definitely fits this description. It dropped all its leaves in the box…


…and is now completely bare.


With our hot late summer weather, it should grow new leaves quickly. At least that’s my hope. I’d love for it to be happy and healthy when it goes in the ground this fall.

NOTE: I just saw that Yucca Do still has a bunch of plants on sale. Check them out here.


  1. Jealous!!!! Thanks for the link, I didn't know about that site. There really are some great things on sale (must show restraint!!!!)

    1. ps Where are you putting the agaves? Are you going to keep them together and make an agave collection, or spread them around the garden? Agave pic update in the future? :)

    2. Steve, restraint? What is that? Gotta look it up in the dictionary!

      I'm leaving the agaves in pots for now. That makes it easier to control how much water they get as they get used to living in a new place.

      I'm trying to figure out a spot for a new succulent bed. If it happens, some of them will go there. The smaller ones will probably always be in pots. I like grouping pots with different agaves together.

      No matter what I do, there'll definitely be picture updates :-).

  2. That 'Royal Spine' is beautiful!

    p.s. Fancy plant stand! ;-)

    1. I've wanted a Royal Spine since I first saw one at Ruth Bancroft Garden in the spring (it was in the silent auction and ended up going for a good chunk of change).

      As for the "plant stand," it's all part of the industrial ambiance I'm trying to create :-).

  3. Wow Gerhard! This you have great collection. Hope to someday see your garden. See you at the Succulent Extravaganza which reminds me to bring you a replacement of that Variegated Aeonium that was damaged during shipment.

    1. Laura, hey, anytime you drive through Davis give me a holler. We're not far from I-80.

      Can't wait for Succulent Extravaganza II. Only two more weeks!

  4. Gerhard- a word of advice. I've lusted after these for years, after seeing them en mass at the Waikiki zoo. I’ve then gone and killed quite a few over the years, trying to grow them in the ground here in Davis. They never made it through the winter, despite the fact they should be borderline hardy here. The ones I've seen successfully grown are in the Palm Springs area, growing on almost pure sand, and in Hawaii, where they were growing in decomposing lava. Probably my clay soil is the culprit for my lack of success. Finally I gave up and am growing it in a 15 gallon pot (at this time residing at a local high school's greenhouse, in full bloom and greatly admired). I find they like to be grown on the dry side, and the leaves start to yellow if the pot is not allowed to almost completely dry out before the next watering. If you're determined to put it in the ground, pot it up, and wait until next April. An unestablished plant, struggling with clay and winter wet, is not likely to survive.

    1. Sue, I'm so grateful for your advice on the red bird of paradise. I don't think hardiness is a problem: If they're hardy in Tucson, they're definitely hardy here. As you said, our heavy soil is most likely to blame. I'll wait until the spring and will then plant it on a mound consisting of 50% sand. Luckily, the spot I have in mind is on top of a slight slope so drainage should be better there.

  5. Wow, wow, wow! All those Agaves, wow! Most especially the Royal Spine and Frostbite! If only I can buy from them too!

    Glad to see you finally got hold of Caesalpinia pulcherrima, hopefully it leafs up and recovers soon :)


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