I have been fighting a losing battle for over 16 years and it involves my husband, agave and yucca.

Yucca whipplei

Okay, here is a yucca (above).  One of the many different species that occur throughout the Southwest.

And here is an agave….

Agave americana

Actually, there are also many different species of agave as well.

Here are a few different agaves that I have grown along with my husband in the 25 years that we have been married:

Agave vilmoriniana

Agave parryi
Agave desmettiana (getting ready to flower)

Agave victoria-reginae

So, what is the battle that I am dealing with?

Well, my husband always refers to agave as yuccas.  
No matter how often I tell him that we don’t have any yucca in our garden – only agave, he still calls them ‘yuccas’.

He has lived in the Desert Southwest his entire life and still cannot tell the difference.

Now, I really don’t have anything against yuccas….
Yucca baccata
Unlike agave, yuccas can grow very tall and large.
But, I must admit that I prefer agave.

Sometimes when my husband and I are driving down the street, he will point to a flowering agave and call it a ‘yucca’.  And every time, I correct him.  Now, I don’t want you to think that I am the type of person that is always correcting others, but this one thing is a particular sticking point with me.

I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because I’m a horticulturist and I am passionate (crazy) about plants?

For awhile I was wondering if my husband just did it to tease me, (like he does about other things).

That is until last weekend, when my father-in-law asked me to prune some of the dead leaves from his yucca….

Agave americana variegata

The only thing is….it wasn’t a yucca.

Now, I know where my husband gets it from….. 


I hope you all have a great weekend!

I will be hibernating indoors this weekend, enjoying the air-conditioning 🙂
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

9 replies
  1. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    What a lovely agave collection you have. I would rather have agave than yucca. Although I do have a couple of yucca too.

    That is a cute story about your husband and where he got his calling agave yucca. 🙂

    Try to keep cool and have a great weekend.


  2. trav4adventures
    trav4adventures says:

    What a cute story! I really don't know the difference myself and I've lived here in the desert now for…36 years. I guess I'll have to pay more attention! The yucca leaves have those curly threads on them, right? And, a joshua tree is a yucca. Okay…I'm going to definitely pay more attention!

  3. Desert Dweller
    Desert Dweller says:

    Some people here refer to all yuccas and agaves as "cactus", but usually they are desertiphobic. I like yuccas and agaves just as much as the other, it just depends on how they are used!

    Now your husband and father-in-law…I think it's a conspiracy!!

  4. David
    David says:

    I agree with Desert Dweller…most people that walk by my front yard filled with yuccas and agaves tell me what a nice cactus garden you have!
    What fun story. You have some beautiful agaves in your collection. David 🙂

  5. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    LOL Just be thankful they know the name, many people here have no idea what I mean when I say either agave or yucca-though both have varieties indigenous to the West Indies! They probably call them "spiky plants to be removed" if they ever encounter them on their property.

    Like you i like both but much prefer the beauty of agaves. Enjoy your weekend.

  6. NellJean
    NellJean says:

    That is so funny. We had yucca at home when I was a child. We called it 'Bear Grass' and I never liked it. Nobody that I knew had Bear Grass in the middle of a side lawn, near an elm tree. The elms all died. The Bear Grass persisted.

  7. College Gardener
    College Gardener says:

    Cute story, though I can very much see how it would drive you crazy. My dad is very similar about any tidbit of plant "knowledge" he got from his – general fairly plant-savvy – mother. No matter how many times I tell him otherwise. I love both agaves and yuccas, though gardening in Michigan makes the former pretty much impossible as garden plants and severely restricts the range of species of the latter I can use in the garden. Perhaps I will give Agave parryi a try in the garden, though, since it is supposedly quite hardy as long as it is dry enough…

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