Tuesday, 13 May 2014

State of the agave

State of the agave: Spring 2014

I'll still never forget several years ago when I bought my first agave. The nursery worker felt the need to give me the disclaimer: "You know you can't grow that here, right?" It was probably the worst words you could say to a zonal denial gardener. In fact, if my wallet could have allowed I would have asked her to ring through another one. But over the years of agave growing the collection has grown. At times there have been some losses, but my agave obsession continues. This winter was relatively kind on the agave I must say. All but one of the in ground agave came through just fine.

I thought I'd start with my agave ovatifolia 'frosty blue.' In the picture you can see how I have planted several agave around my beloved butia capitata. On a sunny day I love going outside and setting up a lawn share right next to this part of the garden. Things went well this winter for these agave. You can see some spotting on the lower arms of the most exposed of the two agave ovatifolia.
 This is a new to me agave awaiting the final decision on where it should live in the garden. It didn't have a tag but it very much resembles my agave parryi JC Raulston and I do believe that is what it is.
 Moving back into the garden agave bracteosa 'calamar' went through winter like a champ. It did get some spots on the lower arms. Considering the late winter snow and ice events that this thing endured I'd say that it has done great!
Onto the agave parryi... all of my agave parryi did great this winter. The worst (not shown here) was agave parryi 'truncata.' I had to remove a few arms along the bottom but otherwise it looks great. Lower right is my agave parryi 'JC Raulston, this one never receives any love and always looks great. Again if you look close there are the odd spots along the lowest arms but nothing significant. And the agave parryi huachucensis in the lower left hand corner seems to handle winter with ease. I removed several arms from this guy and it already looks to have outgrown that awkward freshly cleaned up agave look.
 Finally agave parryi var. parryi has done exceedingly well this winter. It is planted on the steepest angle of all my agave and it seems to be happy to have all water drain away from it.  In fact, the only agave surgery I ever perform with this guy is the lowest arms along the bottom of the slope. Our soil is really sandy and most plants suffer in this spot over the years. But the agaves seem to flourish.
As an aside: I have a small agave farm starting. Not a real agave farm. But a funny backyard pup separating, agave starting, 4 inch container farm of baby agaves. Last count there were 18. That didn't take into account the other long term potted agaves kicking around. It's becoming a problem... a good problem!

18 comments:

  1. Nice report. Quite a nice collection and good to see most of them came through the winter just fine. The winters probably slow the growth a bit which keeps them from turning into garden monsters and leaves plenty of room for those little agave pups in the garden. I see two more in the parryi pot so your farm keeps growing.

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    1. Yeah, they don't really grow at all during the winter. Although I would be fine to have a few monster agave around :) There are some that I've been eyeing and considering finding a home for.

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  2. I just finished putting an Agave bracteosa 'Calamar' in the ground and came in and saw your post. I have high hopes for it. My Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston' thrives despite neglect too, and made it through winter looking pretty good. Unfortunately my Whale's Tongue turned to mush. I have plenty more Agaves in pots that winter over in the green house.

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    1. Nice! I think that agave bracteosa is one of the best suited (in my opinion). Did you read dangers post from last week. Best be planting them high in the soil and I always tilt mine so that water doesn't collect in the centre of the plant.

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  3. It is a very good problem to have though. A great set of plants. How does agave montana do for you? In the UK we find it is the fastest grower in the ground, and once it has bulked up a bit is good and hardy.

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    1. I am yet to grow agave montana. I will have to get one. I have seen some huge ones in a private garden near the ocean once. They definitely are hardy enough, I guess it just depends on whether or not it will handle our wet weather. But the UK is very similar to us here in the PNW! Thanks for the recommendation. I can't wait to get one now!

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    2. The good thing about montana is that is probably copes with wet better than other agaves, which is probably why it does so well in the ground in the UK.

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    3. That's awesome! I knew people had been growing it but I didn't know it was one of the more wet tolerant. They are a stunning agave.

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  4. I planted an A. ovatifolia 'frosty blue' in the ground last year because yours did so well. It survived but lost some lower arms during our wettest March on record. I never cut the arms off and they got covered up by some other succulent that's growing in the bed. I hope they'll direct water away from the roots next winter. Yours all look great! You and Loree have convinced me to try planting more agaves in the ground.

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    1. Awesome! Im glad to hear yours made it. Mine are all slightly tilted to allow for the water to drain out. I think that really helps. I think one of the keys is somehow lifting the agave be it in a raised bed or mound as Loree showed last week. But I love having them in the garden!

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  5. Wonderful Louis, I am so glad you've had such success with your agaves and I love that you've got a pup farm going!

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    1. Thanks, Loree! I love looking outside and seeing agaves. It makes the garden feel much, much warmer! And you know me, I love warmer.

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  6. I bet all the locals LOVE your collection, eh? So exotic!!!!!! Your garden is looking amazing!!!!

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  7. Wish I could grow these plants! I was at Plant Delight Nursery this past weekend and was astounded at how good all the agaves looked, considering this was the east coast's coldest winter in 20 years (they had lows ranging from 4 to 9 degrees on the property), and on top of that Raleigh has had a cool, wet summer. Of course they're all growing on berms with excellent drainage (and Tony made the point that they nearly always grow on slopes in nature as well).

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  8. State of the agave 2015? Miss you :)

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