large cactus and yuccas hardy in Idaho

matsukazeJanuary 31, 2006

I just planted 25 Yucca faxoniana that are 15' tall and 30 Joshua trees that are 10-14' tall. I also planted a large number of yucca rostrada, yucca ellata, firebarrel cactus, gold barrel cactus, cholla, ocatillo and sotos. I was told all these were good in our area. has anyone tried any of these? They have come through one winter ok.

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You probably don't need to worry. Since I am a relative newcomer to this area, I can't relate any personal experience with these plants in my own yard yet. However, I can tell you that MOST of what you've listed above is hardy here in Santa Fe, NM, which most people call zone 5, but 6a is probably more appropriate. I guess this would make it just slightly cooler than where you are? I'm guessing you're at a pretty low elevation in S. Idaho to be in zone 6.

The following species appear to grow quite well here:

Yucca faxoniana (many different sizes, ages around town)
Yucca elata (some absolutely huge ones around)
Yucca rostrata
Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri -- in commercial landscaping)
Cholla varieties (Opuntia imbricata, O. spinosior, O. leptocaulis)

In addition, I have seen barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii) which seems free of winter damage at least two years in a row (that I have observed). I haven't noticed any J-trees around, but I would not be at all surprised.

Really the only plant I would be wary of growing in zone 6 would be the Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) simply because I have never seen it planted in Santa Fe or in any real cold places that I can think of. But maybe that's just due to preference and/or lack of experimentation. In any event, I'm excited to hear that all those things you planted are surviving. Certainly they are beautiful drought-tolerant plants.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 5:30PM
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Regarding various yuccas that are hardy for the Boise Valley --- there are many that are very cold hardy and they all need excellent drainage and little or no extra water once planted!! The y. faxonia is very hardy as well as yucca elata, thompsonia, rostrata and even the Joshua tree. There is a large plant up on the top of Warm Springs Mesa. It has been there since 1992, and there are several other mature specimans around the Valley.

The sotol family is not represented very well here with only one that is truly hardy to our climate. That is the dasylirion texanum. The variety wheeleri tends to die out quite quickly, although we did get one to survive for over 6 years. The nolina family is also quite hardy if you get the right plants, and of course about 4 varieties of hesperaloe.

The cactus group is well represented here with even some plants above 6 - 8 feet, although the larger barrels are usually only half hardy, unless you plant them against the foundation of a house, and make sure it is on a mound. We do have smaller barrels that are native here in Idaho, that are perfectly hardy and a nice feature is that they have beautiful blooms and are fragrant.

Ocotillos are questionable ---- but this might be possible if the plants are well rooted and have excellent drainage.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 10:35PM
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I know this thread is old but I wanted to see if I could rekindle it, as I am interested in some of the same species as matsukaze, chris, and idahocactus.
Matsukaze, how did you acquire such large specimens for planting and how have they done over time?
I am right on the border of Zone 6 and 7, but of course we receive a lot more rainfall here at about 33 inches per year.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 9:29PM
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You all may want to try Yucca baccata as well. I have seen specimens growing among aspen and fir in Pino Canyon in our local Sandia Mountains. At these elevations of 8000+ ft., they see snowpack every year (sometimes feet) and temperatures below zero F. on occasion. Not a trunking yucca, but one to consider for a ground plant, especially if one can source NM seed or plants. Edible fruit as well!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 11:42PM
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a follow up to these messages. And here it is 2015!! And the Joshua trees, yucca faxoniana, elata, baccata, rostrata and Thompson yuccas are all thriving and doing well. Some are developing into nice specimans. I am including some photos in a winter scene from 2013. Somewhat cold and snowy, but doesn't seem to affect the plants.

The pic shows a nice faxoniana and yucca elata.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2015 at 12:22AM
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