My Husband, Agave and Yucca….A Losing Battle?

Yucca whipplei

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

Yucca whipplei

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 , Losing Battle

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 , Losing Battle

Agave vilmoriniana

Agave parryi , Losing Battle

Agave parryi

Agave desmettiana (getting ready to flower) , Losing Battle

Agave desmettiana (getting ready to flower)

Agave victoria-reginae

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

Yucca baccata

Unlike agave, yuccas can grow very tall and large

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

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 🙂

The Continuing Adventures of a Landscape Designer….

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, 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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