Last updated on August 25th, 2023 at 12:32 pm
Dasylirion texanum (the Texas sotol plant) is a species of flowering plant in the yucca family native to Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Texas in Mexico, and to Central and West Texas in the United States.
It is called sotol in Spanish and Nara by its Apachean name, referring to the brown fruits of the plant which resemble pine cones with spines sticking out like needles on top. The species name comes from the state where it was first discovered.
The dasylirion texanum belongs to the Asparagaceae family. It grows as an evergreen perennial in North America, particularly in Arizona and Texas (hence its name). The dasylirion texanum was well known by Native Americans but more specifically by the Coahuiltecan people.
The Texas sotol plant (Dasylirion texanum) is an excellent choice if you’re looking to add some desert-like flair to your house’s interior design. This plant grows up to 8 feet tall and produces a cylindrical stalk that sprouts leaves every six inches or so along its length.
Origin and distribution
Dasylirion texanum is a perennial from Mexico. The most widely planted ornamental member of its genus, Dasylirion texanum has been grown for more than a century and is still popular with gardeners because of its white flowers and interesting foliage.
Dasylirion texanum grows on rocky hillsides or near streams at elevations between 2,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level. It prefers dry soil and full sun to partial shade; it can tolerate temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit if given winter protection such as mulch or a thick layer of leaves under which to grow.
Dasylirion texanum propagation
Dasylirion texanum can be propagated by rhizome division, though it is slow to strike from seed. The best method is to divide clumps in late spring or early summer and plant them in moist sand at least 2 ft. apart, with the top of the crown barely above ground level.
The seed does not store well and germination is erratic; sow fresh seed each year. In warm climates, dasylirion will grow rapidly and may flower within three years after sowing seed. In cold climates, it may take up to ten years for plants to flower.
Plants are easily raised from root cuttings taken in mid-summer. Cuttings should be about 3-4 inches long and planted 1 inch deep. They will form roots quickly if kept on dry heat such as in an unheated greenhouse.
Dasylirion texanum care information
Water dasylirion texanum minimally, and only when soil is very dry. Make sure to never allow water to pool at the base of your plant, as it can lead to root rot.
Water dasylirion texanum by pouring warm or room-temperature water into its container until it begins to drain out of holes in its bottom.
Outdoors, dasylirion texanum prefers full sun but can grow in part shade. Indoors it requires bright light, indirect sunlight if possible. Dasylirion texanum is not a fussy plant and will tolerate low-light conditions, but you will notice your plant growing taller as it searches for more light.
If you keep your plant indoors in low-light conditions, be sure to rotate your plant periodically so that all sides receive equal amounts of light exposure. Also, note that plants kept indoors in low-light conditions tend to have shorter life spans than those grown outdoors with full sun exposure.
However, if you have to use a soil-based potting mix, look for one that has few organic amendments; vermiculite is okay, but steer clear of anything else.
You can also make your own potting mix by combining equal parts perlite, pumice, and horticultural-grade sand.
Use a 1:1:1 ratio, one part of each perlite, pumice, and sand, and make sure there are no clumps.
Dasylirion texanum likes to be slightly moist, but not drenched. The soil should feel damp at a depth of one foot. In the hot summer months, when rainfall is low, you may need to water every two or three days.
If you keep it too wet or too dry, it will be prone to root rot, which can lead to killing your plant. Avoid using tap water on sotol plants, as they have very sensitive roots that do not like chlorine and fluoride. It’s best to use distilled or rainwater.
Texas sotol plants are dormant during their first year, so you don’t need to fertilize them until the spring of their second year. Fertilize as early in spring as possible, applying one pound of fertilizer per 100 square feet of sotol area.
Mix into the soil with a shovel or tiller and water thoroughly. If your soil is poor or compacted, consider adding two pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet instead. Repeat every spring for at least three years; then cut back to one pound every other year after that.
Dasylirion texanum is a warm-weather plant that thrives in temperatures from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It will begin to suffer if temperatures drop below 60 or rise above 110.
But it is hardy enough to survive indoors in winter and spring, as long as you give it enough light and water; keep it out of drafts.
This plant prefers extreme heat and high humidity. If you’re growing it in a container, it’s a good idea to use a saucer so that water doesn’t pool around your pot, or to keep your potted sotol on a stand above any surface that could potentially collect moisture.
If you want to increase your chances of survival as an indoor gardener, use saucers under pots and place them where they can soak up sunlight through windows.
The ideal humidity range is 60 to 80 percent. This can be achieved by using a humidifier or placing your plant on a tray of wet pebbles. However, it’s important to remember that too much moisture can cause root rot and other problems.
In order to control your dasylirion texanum, you need to prune it regularly. It’s a good idea to keep your plant at three feet in height or lower so that you can easily reach its leaves and stems without damaging them.
For best results, hire a professional who has experience with pruning similar plants to care for your dasylirion texanum. If you want to prune your sotol on your own, be sure to wear protective clothing like gloves and goggles when handling it.
Trim off any dead branches as soon as possible—the sooner they are removed from the plant, the less likely they are to damage other branches or parts of your home.
When to repot
Repot in early spring and every two to three years thereafter. Before repotting, trim away dead roots from your sotol, and disinfect your new pot by dipping it into a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water for about five minutes.
Drain before planting your sotol in it. Keep an eye on how much water your plant is taking up; most plants need regular watering once every seven to 10 days. If you notice that your sotol has stopped growing or has yellowed leaves, you might be over-watering it.
Cut back on watering until things improve. If you’re not sure what’s wrong with your plant, contact a local nursery or garden center for advice.
The Texas sotol plant, Dasylirion texanum, is a succulent native to southwest Texas and northern Mexico. It’s adaptable to extreme conditions, from drought-ridden summers to freezing winters. Because of its preference for warm weather and its dormancy period in winter, it’s grown as an annual in temperate climates.
In fact, it’s an excellent choice for container gardening because it doesn’t have a deep root system or requires a lot of space. And while it’s hardy enough to withstand snow and cold temperatures, you can protect your plants by bringing them indoors during severe weather.
You can even keep them inside all year long if you provide sufficient light; just make sure they get at least five hours of direct sunlight per day.
Dasylirion texanum flower & fragrance
The Dasylirion texanum plant produces yellow flowers in spring. The scent from these fragrant blossoms is described as citrus-like and sweet.
The Texas sotol plant is slow-growing. It may be several years before you notice any significant increase in height. If you plan to grow it from seed, sow them outdoors once temperatures reach 65-70 degrees.
Keep in mind that you’ll need at least two years of growth before blooming and producing viable seeds for propagation.
This plant is toxic. It can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Children should not come in contact with it, as their smaller bodies are more susceptible to injury from toxins.
If you accidentally come into contact with it, wash yourself immediately with soap and water. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
USDA hardiness zones
Dasylirion texanum thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. If you live outside of these areas, you can still grow dasylirion texanum as a houseplant. It will just need to be brought inside during colder months and kept in a sunny window year-round.
Pests and diseases
The Texas sotol can suffer from a range of pests and diseases. Caterpillars, beetles, and stem borers have all been known to attack its leaves and stems, as have aphids, leafhoppers, mites, fungi, viruses, and bacteria.
It’s worth investing in some pest-control measures if you want to grow your Texas sotol in an area that is susceptible to these kinds of infestations. In particular, caterpillar attacks should be treated with insecticides like carbaryl or malathion.
Keep an eye out for signs of fungal infection, too; while they don’t affect overall plant health directly, they do make it easier for other pathogens to take hold.
Texas sotol plant is an evergreen subshrub that can thrive in full sun or partial shade. This low-maintenance plant has many uses in landscaping and home decorating, from borders to garden accents.
Now that you’ve learned more about its history and ways to grow it, your garden can benefit from one of nature’s most interesting plants.