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Dying to Flower

'Do they ever flower?' is a frequently asked question of yuccas. Followed by: 'Have I got to wait twenty years?' Well in the case of yucca filamentosa, serendipity recently came to my assistance such that I now have a fool-proof method of initiating the production of a blooming stem given a mere three weeks notice.

How? Go on admit it, you're dying to know. Tee hee (you'll get the joke in minute).

Non systemic weed killer is the answer. Lightly spray the foliage of said yucca with a suitable herbicide - in my case it was accidental spray drift - and then wait two or three days. If your poison is potent enough success is heralded by a white blotching of the normally green, sword like leaves. Yucca filimentosa 'zebrinus' 'temporarius', perhaps?

I've always thought this plant a somewhat melancholy character, softly weeping with its folded leaves while all about are jostling for attention. Once, however, you've committed your deed - 'AAARRRGGghhhhh!!!!' goes the yucca. The foliage appears more upright, and you can almost hear the plant's thought processes: I'm going to die, but first I've got to ensure continuity of my species. I've got to flower and produce seed for a future generation. GOT TO FLOWER! GOT TO FLOWER! I'M GOING TO FLOWER!

Hey presto, two weeks later, up pops a flower shoot. Now that's what I call gardening - you tell plants exactly what you want and they duly obey.

I know some of you will be shocked by this rather extreme approach - you'll liken it to toilet training puppies by drowning them. Not so. Providing you don't overdo it with the weed killer, and are sure not to use a systemic one, the yucca should flower, start producing new leaves, and ultimately make a full recovery.

There are probably lots of plants that frustrate the 'here and now' gardener of today. Plants which could be encouraged to be more obliging. Old roses that only flower for two weeks early in the year - just when the wind and rain can dash the blooms - really get my goat. Why not twist their shoots a little and persuade them to give us another show. If they don't respond to the paraquat then we should increase the range of our armoury. What about boiling water drenches followed by blasts of hundred and fifty decibel rock music? Every plant must have its secret terror. Our new gardening manual could be the room 101 of the flora world.

- The Composter

All Articles � 2000 Paul Lathrope
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