Friday, December 18, 2009

Mr Big, my Agave americana variegata

During the winterization of my garden, in prep for our cold snap, I wrapped the pot of my large Agave americana variegata with bubble wrap, wrapped his “core” with burlap and put a sheet over the top, pulling it in and securing it against the wind. He was also under our shade pavilion which provided a wee bit of shelter (no sides… but it’s next to the neighbors fence and our garage and it has a slanted roof). This same agave made it through last winter’s arctic event with no problem, so I wasn’t too concerned.
When I woke to a 13 degree temperature on Tuesday the 8th, my attitude changed. My willing husband and I were out in the cold morning air moving the agave into our unheated garage (the smaller agaves were already there, or in the house). Andrew was all for trying to get it into the house but his arms were so brittle (the agave, not the husband) and his wing span so wide (4 ft) I was afraid we’d just pop them right off. So he stayed in the garage and got another blanket for the rest of the cold spell.
Last Friday, while I was still mobile, I snapped these pictures. The garage door was open and the sunlight was illuminating his still slightly frozen arms. The temperature was creeping up above freezing for the first time in days and he was getting a little movement back. The colors were beautiful. I have hope that Mr Big is going to pull through this one. Once our deluge of rainfall ends (an inch both of the last 2 days), and our schedule calms a bit, I plan to talk the husband, and a kind willing assistant yet to be chosen, into moving him back out under the pavilion where he can soak up a few of the limited rays of sunshine we get this time of year.
Just how does one move a 2 ½ ft tall pot with a 4ft wide agave in it? Very carefully, and with the help of a Pot Lifter. One very handy device that I am so glad I purchased; if you’re in Portland I know Garden Fever carries them. Or click on the link to buy off their website (not a paid promotion…just a happy gardener sharing a product that she finds useful).


  1. Whew, Loree. It looks like Mr. Big dodged the icy bullet. Its still eye candy and no wonder you're a happy gardener. I too have been pleasantly surprised by the plants that pulled through. Now if it can just stay mild...

  2. I am very impressed that you and your husband were able to move your agave. I am glad though...they are so beautiful and it is worth the trouble to keep it safe :0) The colors are beautiful. Your photos captured them perfectly.

  3. I love these stripey agaves. Did you see all the pups I got from my old garden (2 posts back)?

  4. Those photos are luminous, dg! I'm so glad Mr. Big looks likely to pull through. Sorry to say my agave scabra looks like it will lose multiple arms and which may mean it won't make it. My fault: I should have covered it in the garden.

    And I really like that potlifter tool: I often use a dolly to move big pots, but plants with extended arms like your agave are tricky. That's going on my list!

  5. I have a potlifter. They're great. They make moving pots in the srping and fall much easier. I have a few things that got moved in when it became obvious just how cold it was going to get. I hope they're okay.


  6. Grace, I hope you're right. Since I haven't been able to actually see him for myself (still can't get outside and around on the crutches) I'm trusting the good reports my husband is sharing.

    Digs, thanks!

    How it grows, too. Reports are that it's brothers and sisters in the ground are looking good too.

    azplantlady, is it strange to someone that can enjoy these in the ground that we go to such extreme efforts to keep them alive up here in the rainy and cold PNW?

    Pam, I did! Lucky you...I can't be too jealous though as I profited a couple times last summer from my brother dividing up his pups in a similar fashion. I had so many I actually gave a few away!

    Jane, I am sorry to hear about your A. Scabra, that was a favorite of mine. The pot lifter is great. The husband spotted it at the Yard Garden and Patio show one year. We've used it faithfully ever since.

    Anony/Deirdre, I hope they are ok too! Thanks for commenting.

  7. I think I messed up with my biggest A. americana variegata. I just moved it against the south side of the house. I didn't add any protection. It has gotten all soft, and I'm afraid to go look at it again for fear it's turned into mush. I brought a couple of the pups inside the house, but this was my biggest best agave (and I think my first), it had done such a good job growing big the last couple years, and then I let it get hit by the cold. Feeling guilty. I think yours will fare much better.

  8. Congrats on getting your big guy through the worst of winter (I hope!). Love those photos, especially the curves and thorns. Hope you are up and about soon to go check on all your babies!

  9. Megan, oh no! Well at least you have the pups to carry on...and maybe you can buy a replacement at this years RPR sale?

    Karen, oh I hope you are right about that being the worst! I'm praying. If the sunshine forecast holds for the holiday I think that might be my favorite gift. I'll talk the husband into assisting me around the garden. I suck at the stairs though so there still maybe parts that are off limits.

  10. I so enjoyed reading about your agaves. Cacti and succulents always make me want to head south! Unfortunately, they’re not so suited for growing in Maryland.

    Also, I’m glad you brought up PotLifter. I have one, too and I love it! Thanks for your great blog.


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