With its expanses of barren plots and gravel, gardens on Bonaire tend to provide little diversity. However, there are alternatives to non native plants usually seen in Bonaire, which unfortunately require an abundance of water.
One such alternative is the yucca plant. The yucca is native to the hot dry areas of the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States and is a very hardy and resistant plant. It adapts to any climate and is becoming more popular globally as both an outdoor and indoor plant, thanks to the fact that it is very low maintenance but at the same time quite striking and stylish. It also has some notable properties, such as the ability to clean air and rid it of toxins.
It can easily be part of a beautiful zen garden, a generally affordable and low time commitment way to use your available yard or garden.
Types of Yucca Plants
There are more than 40 species of yucca plants and around 24 subspecies, creating an incredible variety of colors, shapes and sizes to choose from. Coloration can range from the classic green to bluish with variations of yellow, cream and white with delicate white flowers. All species of yucca have the same large, spiky leaves and delicate white or cream flowers. Well-known species of yucca include the Aloe Yucca, the Joshua Tree and the Banana Yucca.
Planting Your Yucca Plant
Yuccas are very easy to grow either in containers or in gardens and require little maintenance while adding a style element to your garden or indoor area. Most species handle temperatures ranging from 30 degrees Fahrenheit up to 90 degrees and deal well with partial shade even though they favor sunlight.
Yuccas are ideal for semi-arid gardens, as they do not favor humid climates and therefore run no risk of potential overwatering. If you are planting species which tend to grow to towering heights or species with sharp prickly leaves, a smart choice is to plant them far away from walking paths and areas where pets and children play. Some varieties of yucca resemble trees more than shrubbery, such as the yucca brevifolia, better known as the Joshua Tree: with enough space it can grow up to thirty feet tall.
The best time to transplant yuccas is between late spring to early summer, therefore giving the yucca more time to grow. Ideally, the soil needs to be dry and sandy with good drainage and a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. Yuccas are quite tolerant to many soil types, except those with high moisture content.
Caring for the Yucca Plant
Following the transplanting phase, some light fertilizer and continuous spritzing with water can help the yucca grow faster. Once the yucca is established, it does not require much water. Watering your yucca once a week during warm months should suffice. If the leaves develop brown tips, this is a sign that the yucca is overwatered and you should scale back.
The Surprising Uses of Yucca Plants
Yucca plants, as well as being a beautiful and stylish addition to your garden, also have many surprising uses.
The yucca is an air cleaning plant which is very effective in removing toxins from the air. It is also edible: the fruit and flowers are particularly succulent, but the roots have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to fight migraines and a number of other ailments. The yucca can also be used to make soap and shampoo as well as a natural skin salve, effective against cuts and scrapes.
With so many wonderful qualities and the added benefit of being low maintenance, it's easy to see how the yucca can be a great addition to your garden.