Hesperaloe

Hesperaloe parviflora

Hesperaloe parviflora

Hesperaloe parviflora is a handsome architectural plant, as effective singly in large pots as in mass plantings geometrically arranged in the ground.  It is equally pleasing in a naturalistic mixture of succulents, grasses, or other dry-garden plants.

An evergreen plant with long, narrow, gracefully arching foliage, hesperaloe grows three to four feet tall and spreads six or more feet wide by rosettes so closely spaced that they seem to be part of the same plant.  The leathery dark green leaves are spineless with distinctive white threadlike fibers along the margins.  Sprays of pink or pinkish coral summer flowers on tall stalks open in succession from the bottom up, stunning combined with the large, round, bluish gray-green fruits.  Hummingbirds compete aggressively for the flowers if the deer don’t get them first.

I am not sure how much water hesperaloe truly requires or can tolerate.  I grow mine in full sun in large containers filled with commercial cactus mix, where they seem to appreciate watering every week or so in high summer.  In the ground they are said to need little to no supplemental water, but I cannot attest to that.

Too much or too little water – or crowded roots as the potted plants expand – could explain the surprising lack of flowers on my plants after six successful blooming seasons.  I watch every spring for emerging flower stalks, and in their seventh year they did not appear.  I have taken the opportunity to divide the plants and repot in new soil.  We shall see what next summer brings.

There are other hesperaloes in the nursery trade.  Hesperaloe tenuifolia, grassy hesperaloe, is smaller, three feet tall and wide, with even narrower leaves and white or pink-tinged white flowers.  H. funifera, giant hesperaloe, is much larger, four to six feet tall and wide, with upright rather than arching foliage and creamy white or greenish white flowers on stalks ten feet tall.  H. parviflora is sometimes offered as cultivars with yellow or red flowers. All hesperaloes are tough, clean, no-maintenance plants known for their tolerance of both heat and cold.

 

 

 

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