Nearly 40 different species comprise the botanical genus Yucca. Native only to North America, these shrublike perennials demonstrate differing tolerances to and survivability from exposure to cold temperatures, depending on species.
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As a general rule, yuccas grow well where winter temperatures range from minus 30 to plus 4.44 degrees Celsius. This correlates to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 11. Each yucca species demonstrates varying capacity to survive winter cold.
Perhaps the most cold hardy yucca is Adam's needles (Yucca filamentosa), which is rated for USDA zones 4 through 11. Another species that endures considerable cold is weak-leaf yucca (Yucca flaccida), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. Yuccas native to southern North America may not tolerate frost at all, as in the case of the giant yucca (Yucca elephantipes).
If a yucca plant is exposed to cold temperatures outside its natural threshold tolerances, leaves sag, crinkle, or shrivel, and turn brown. Rot follows, and eventually the tissues fully dry. If cold penetrates into stems and also kills the roots, the plant dies. Sometimes the above-ground tissues are killed by cold, but if the main root is alive, it will produce a tiny, green, leafy sprout in spring or summer.
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