Soapweeds are evergreen plants with swordlike leaves are hardy where the ground freezes and snow falls. The flower buds are edible and the fruits and roots can be substituted for soap. The genus is named for an entirely different Haitian plant.
Description of soapweed: Short, prostrate stems form clumps of leaves, 1/2-inch wide and up to 36 inches long with narrow, white margins. Stems growing to 8 feet bear bell-shaped, greenish-white flowers 2 inches long, which turn up at night and become fragrant to lure moths for pollination. Fruits are pods. Soapweed ease of care: Easy.
How to grow soapweed: Yuccas are adaptable to most situations, preferring full sun and good, well-drained garden soil. They have tap roots, so once planted they are best left alone.
Propagating soapweed: Seeds or occasional offsets on mature plants.
Uses for soapweed: Since they have tap roots, yuccas are very drought-resistant and, once ensconced, can be left alone. They are excellent as specimen plants. Since they are evergreen, they should also be considered for the winter garden. The flowers are spectacular.
Soapweed related species: Yucca filamentosa, or Adam's needle, has
21/2-foot leaves, their margins bearing threads. Flowers are creamy white and bell-shaped, on stalks often up to 12 feet high, but usually growing to about 6 feet. 'Gold Sword' has evergreen leaves with soft green margins and bright yellow centers.
Scientific name for soapweed: Yucca glauca