The variegated Spanish dagger.

I really like planting yuccas in our desert container gardens. Most are frost-hardy, easy-care and low-water, and they’re great architectural specimens.

Among yucca plants, the variegated Spanish dagger is definitely one of my favorites.

The green Spanish dagger is common to nurseries and big-box stores. Unlike other yuccas, these plants have leaves that bend in the breeze, and drape like a fountain spray. But be careful, as the ends still have those sharp points. (Remember the name dagger!) In other words, keep them away from high-traffic areas, including kids’ runways.

Most often in nurseries, you will find the variegated variety in green, with silver margins. Sometimes, you might find rose-colored margins, or even yellow ones. However, don’t confuse this plant with the variegated dracaena—that plant cannot take any sun!

Yucca gloriosa do well in containers, but since the head of the plant can become top-heavy, you should plant them in a container with a wide, stable base. After a while, the plant may sprout another trunk near the base, adding more interest and structure to the plant (while challenging you with a balancing act if planted in the wrong pot!). The variegated Spanish dagger is best planted in dappled shade, in an area with good air circulation. If it’s stuck in a corner, spider mites and other pests that like to hide inside the throat of the leaves may make themselves at home.

When treated with the love and care it deserves, the Spanish dagger will show off its “attitude”! You might be tempted to surround its bare trunk base with other succulents, but I suggest instead adding some medium-to-large rocks to finish the look and help with drainage.

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Marylee is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at Follow the Potted Desert at