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Evergreen sotol is a study in contrasts. Its narrow spiky leaves grow in a rounded rosette form. The play of arrowlike foliage and round silhouette give sotol instant garden presence. Add sotol, also called desert spoon, to foundation plantings, island beds, and anywhere you need bold plant form. Avoid areas with small children, though, as the foliage has sharp edges.
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Sotol is a North American desert native and has exceptional drought resistance and heat tolerance. Plant it in places where it is tough to grow other plants: dry curbside beds, sunbaked foundation gardens or patio areas, rock gardens and native plant areas in the southwest. Sotol is a favorite of contemporary garden designers because of its minimalist appearance and strong form. It grows well in containers and will thrive in container gardens for years.
Its sharp spines (or teeth) along the leaf deter deer and other garden pests as well as unwanted human visitors. If you don't want it to work as a barrier plant, avoid planting sotol near walkways.
Sometimes overlooked, but a pleasing attribute, is sotol's tall white flower spikes that attract hummingbirds. Flowers appear on mature plants in spring and last for several weeks. Plant three or more plants together for a dramatic floral display.
Sotol grows best in full sun and well-drained, lean soil. Water it deeply and regularly during the first growing season to establish a strong root system. Once established, water sotol deeply every few weeks during the summer months. Don't water it in winter or you risk rot. Prune sotol, working carefully to avoid with spiked blades, in cool months as needed.