Sotol, Desert Spoon
|Their spiky, airy globes of needle-like leaf blades make dramatic focal points for a desert garden. Older leaves droop around the base, forming a shaggy mantle that collects water and provides support. Withstanding intense drought, they can live more than 150 years. They may go years without blooming, then send up a tall flower stalk with a close-packed spike of small pale flowers, which may be thronged by bees. Low-growing species spread by underground branching. Others form woody stems, a few reaching tree-trunk size over time. Tiny teeth along the leaf edges are usually yellowish, but Dasylirion lucidum has distinctive burgundy prickles. Dasylirion longissimum, Mexican Grass Tree, forms a shimmering orb of fine grassy leaves that tremble in the slightest breeze. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Best where winter temperatures stay above 50º F, but can take some periods of frost. Good for containers, which can be moved inside during longer cold spells. Water regularly spring to fall -- letting soil nearly dry out in between -- and sparingly in winter. Easy to propagate from seeds or cuttings. The bases, stalks and old leaves attract and house insects, though the plant is generally not harmed.
The barbed leaf blades with spiny tips are forbidding, but in old age they become woody long-handled 'spoons' prized for arrangements. Tiny flowers bloom on a 9 to 15-foot spike. The thick stem eventually forms a trunk 3 to 5 feet tall.
Attributes - Dasylirion wheeleri
Plant Type: Shrub
Bloom Season: Early Summer through Late Summer
Flower Color: White, Yellow
Height: 2 ft. to 8 ft.
Width: 6 ft.
Sunlight: Full Sun
Climate: Zones 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Notes: Thrives in Hot Climates. Container Plants, Long Blooming, Low Maintenance, Showy Flowers.