Dasylirion, otherwise named Sotol, is a genus of plants from the asparagus family. All the species in this genus are native to Mexico. Usually, these plants can be found on open, rocky slopes. These plants have female and male parts on different plants, meaning they are dioecious.
Throughout history, the plant has been used for food, beverages, tools, and other materials by Southwestern American indigenous people. Dasylirion is a very ornamental evergreen succulent. Because of their ability to form large rosettes of pointed greenish-blue leaves, they are very popular for decorating desert-like gardens and landscapes.
These plants can flower, but rarely—maybe once every few years. The plant itself can slowly over the years grow up to three to five feet (0.9 – 1.5m) tall. The flowers are usually very tall, varying from variety to variety, and pointed up and away from the plants themselves.
The color of the flower can range from yellow to pink or even red. The flower can resemble the shape of corn. The color of the flowers can also determine the sex of the plant; they are usually white for males and pink or red for females.
This plant is very attractive to bees, so if you would love some buzzing friends in your area, this plant is perfect for you. The plant is not toxic to humans or any animals, meaning you can safely grow this in a garden or area with children or pets.
Dasylirion cedrosanum: This variety’s leaves are slightly wider than usual, can withstand drought especially well, and can live for over 150 years.
Dasylirion graminifolium: This variety has small, yellowish-green flowers, the leaves can resemble the leaves of aloe.
Dasylirion longissimum: This variety is also known as the Toothless Sotol, resembles a miniature palm, has stiff grassy leaves, and may form a single trunk after several years of growth.
Dasylirion micropterum: This variety is quite new, and has dark green leaves that are narrow and long.
Dasylirion acrotrichum: This variety is commonly known as the Great Desert Spoon, the leaves are narrow and up to 40 inches (1 m) long, and its flower can reach up to 6 or even 15 feet (1.8 – 4.6 m) tall.
How To Grow?
You can grow this plant outside in USDA hardiness zones seven through ten. Because we are dealing with a desert plant, it will need higher temperatures. Anything over 100 °F (37.8 °C) and the plant will begin to show signs of heat stress. In winter, the temperatures simply cannot go below 0 °F (-17.8 °C), as the Dasylirion will not survive any lower temperatures.
Because this plant is native to a dry and hot climate, it is a sun-loving succulent. Grow the Sotol in full sun for the best results. If you cannot provide the plant with full sun, they will also tolerate partial sun.
What makes caring for this plant easy is its drought-tolerant qualities. Once you plant the Sotol in the soil, you should give it an inch (2.5 cm) of water once a week. The only time you might need to water regularly is when there is an extended drought going on in the summer.
Make sure not to water the crown, as this might bring forth root rot. In the winter, you can minimize watering even more. Overall, the plant usually does fine with the water it gets from natural occurrences, like rain.
Soil and Fertilizer
The best soils for the Dasylirion include porous soils like sandy soil, clay soil, and garden loam soil. The important thing to know when choosing soil for this plant is that it needs fast drainage, meaning the soil will need a higher concentration of sand. The soil’s pH level should be between 5.5 and 6.7, meaning slightly acidic. If you do not get the perfect soil for the plant, it can work and still grow healthy.
To ensure healthy and good growth, it is recommended to use a balanced fertilizer in the early spring. In the first year of growth, you can apply a fertilizer high in phosphorus sparingly throughout the year. Doing this to the new growth can help them establish their roots in the new soil, giving them a healthier start to their lives.
Because you’re dealing with a slow grower, it will not need to be pruned that often. As always, you should remove any dried-up, spent, or diseased parts of the plant. Make sure to use clean and sharp tools.
You can remove discolored parts and the listed parts of the plant at any time during the year. But make sure not to prune anymore, as too much pruning can cause the plant to become permanently damaged. When pruning, it is recommended to wear gloves to protect yourself from the little teeth on the leaves.
The easiest way to propagate this plant is by cuttings.
- Use sterile and sharp scissors or shears.
- Take a cutting from a parent plant, meaning the plant should at least be a few years old.
- Place the cutting in a dry place where it can’t get any direct sunlight.
- Keep it there until a callus forms over the cut.
- Prepare a small pot with the same soil used for the parent plant.
- Plant the cutting in the prepared pot.
- Lightly water.
- Make sure to keep the pot in a dry but bright area.
A new baby Sotol plant should form in two to four weeks.
This type of succulent does not need to be repotted often. It is recommended to repot the plant when its size has doubled from its original size. Usually, the plant can go several years before needing to be repotted because of its slow-growing nature. Make sure to use a clean new pot with appropriate soil when repotting. Handle the roots and plant gently, and remember to wear gloves.
The most common diseases you might come across include root rot and fungal infections. These can be caused by watering the plant too much or planting it in the wrong soil, which doesn’t drain the water fast enough. When root rot gets too much time to settle in, there isn’t much you can do to revive the plant, and it is easier to just get a new one.
Make sure to prevent this by using the proper soil and not overwatering it. Remember, you are growing a desert plant; they’re not accustomed to high levels of moisture.
The amazing quality of this plant is that it is very pest-free. Another part of growing this plant that makes it easy.
If you love the desert aesthetic or you live somewhere with desert conditions then this plant is perfect for you. Beginner-friendly and tough, this plant can live even longer than you. The many varieties of this species give you a big range to choose from. A rare plus is that you won’t have to worry about pests.
The Dasylirion can spice up any garden with its sharp-looking leaves and deep green color. If you are lucky and take care of it the correct way you may even see the plant present you with a flower.