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Yucca (brevifolia)

Jean Graham
Nursery Manager
USDI NPS - Joshua Tree National Park Native Plant Nursery
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, California 92277

Family Scientific Name: Agavaceae
Family Common Name: Agave Family
Scientific Name: Yucca brevifolia Engelm. brevifolia Englem.
Common Synonym: Clistoyucca brevifolia (Engelm.) Rydb.
Common Name: Joshua Tree
Species Code: YUCBRE
Ecotype: Joshua Tree National Monument, California
General Distribution: Yucca brevifolia v. brevifolia is found in the Mojave desert of southern California to the Owens Valley, and southwestern Utah and southern Arizona.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 2 Gallon PVC Pipe containers
Time To Grow: 0
Target Specifications: Height: N/A<br> Caliper: N/A<br> Root System: Firm Root Plug in container.
Propagule Collection: Seeds are hand collected in when pods have matured and begin to split open during summer months.
Propagule Processing: Seeds and pods are allowed to dry for 4 to 6 weeks in paper bags in a warm, dry room. After seeds have been cleaned, they are stored under refrigeration in air tight containers at 7C.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seeds are clipped and soaked for 3 to 4 hours in water to remove any inhibitors and to allow full imbibition of seeds prior to sowing. We transplant viable germinants into containers as soon as the radicle emerges. Flats are checked for new germinants daily.
Seeds are sown in open flats using a growing medium of 2 parts sand, 1 part mulch and 2 parts perlite (v:v:v). Seeds should not be planted too deeply in the flats.
Germination %: 100%
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
The Joshua Tree Native Plant Nursery is located in the Mojave Desert of southern California and has an average of 250 frost free days per year and annual rainfall of 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in.)
The facility is comprised of two greenhouses, shade structures, mist propagation beds and an outdoor growing compound. All propagation environments are utilized at different stages of seedling growth to provide for the variance in temperature and shading requirements during the growing season. We irrigate all containers with an automated drip irrigation system.
Establishment Phase: Seedlings are germinated during winter months in a small greenhouse were they remain for 4 weeks. Flats and containers are watered with a drip irrigation system.
After seedlings are well established and have at least 2 trueleaves, they are transplanted into newspaper cylinders wrapped with polyvinyl food wrap. The newspaper container is 29 cm (11.5 in) tall and 7.5 cm (3 in) in diameter. The newspaper pots are filled with a growing medium of 2:1:1 (v:v:v) sand, mulch, and perlite.
Length of Establishment Phase: 4 weeks
Active Growth Phase: Seedlings are ready for transplanting into larger containers at 8 to 12 weeks. The entire newspaper pot minus the plastic wrap is transplanted into the PVC tall containers using the same medium described for the newspaper containers. Osmocote time release fertilizer (9 mo release rate) (13 N:13P2O5:13K2O) is incorporated into the medium at the approximate rate of 22 g per 6l ( 2 gal) PVC containers.
PVC containers are 37.5 cm tall(15 in) and are 15 cm (6 in)in diameter.
Following transplanting, seedlings are moved to a larger greenhouse with more temperature variance where they remain for another 4 weeks.
Approximately 4 weeks old after transplanting, they are moved to the open growing compound that is covered with a 55% shadecloth during the summer months. During the months of intense summer heat, containers are irrigated by an automated drip system every other day with occasional deep irrigation to leach out accumulated salts. Plants grow very well with very little irrigation.
During active growth stage, nursery stock should be monitored for aphids and wilt disease.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 9 months
Hardening Phase: Irrigation frequency and duration is gradually reduced for 4 to 8 weeks prior to out-planting. The shadecloth is removed from the open growing compound in October when daytime temperatures begin to cool. Nursery stock is top pruned at this stage.
Length of Hardening Phase: 2 months
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Containerized seedlings are over wintered directly in the open growing compound.
Length of Storage: Variable; depends on out planting date.
Other Comments: This species can be directly sown into PVC pipe containers to save time. It grows very well in conventional nursery containers.


Graham, Jean. 2003. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Yucca brevifolia Engelm. plants 2 Gallon PVC Pipe containers; USDI NPS - Joshua Tree National Park Native Plant Nursery Twentynine Palms, California. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/05/13). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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