Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Albino Agave

A couple of weeks back I spent a little time with my brother who lives in Arizona. No, unfortunately I wasn’t in Arizona; we were all up in Spokane, at my parent’s home. He was kind enough, once again, to bring me a few agave pups. How lucky am I right? Here are 2 of them planted on each side of a small one that survived last winter in this spot. It's not looking great but alive. That’s good enough for me!We got to talking about our gardens and he mentioned an albino agave pup coming up next to one of his large Agave americana variegata, he promised to send a picture. And here it is…
It has all the yellow of the mama plant but only the slightest hint of the blue green, and no stripes. As you can see there is a ‘normal’ pup just to the left. Crazy isn’t it? Have you ever seen another like this? I keep hearing two little words…tissue culture…


  1. I hear ka-ching, ka-ching!!! Have you emailed Dan Heims [@Terra Nova Nurseries] yet? My garden buddy Carol had what she thought was an anomalous plant and he seemed very interested. He gave her directions on how to go about caring and observing it for the traits needed for him to acquire and propagate it. My apologies if I'm repeating info you are already aware of. Think: Agave 'Loree' ...

  2. if it is a true albino it will certainly die once separated from the mother plant, as she is providing its food, this happens with variegated philodendrons a lot and the white segments always die when you cut them. this one does appear to have a little green in it though so you may have a new variety on your hands, congrats!

  3. Very cool, but I wonder if it has enough chlorophyll to survive on its own, once detatched from the parent plant? All white (or yellow) sports from variegated plants are not super unusual, but are rarely vigorous to make it on their own. But the fact that it has gotten this big is hopeful! By all means keep any eye on it, and talk to Terra Nova or Plant Delights.

  4. Grace, ha! How about Agave 'danger garden'?

    J.J., we were afraid of that (the mom providing food in the absence of chlorophyll in the pup) but as you say with the tinge of green perhaps? Thanks for the info!

    Greensparrow, thank you! I hadn't thought of Plant Delights...good call. I was angling to get my brother to send it to me, but perhaps it's better left where it is? Uhm...but then it might get to big to separate...decisions!

  5. Exciting! Never seen an albino pup before. Keep us updated on how it does.

  6. Oh, that is way cool. I hope you get to name it. Green Ghost? Lilapup? Or maybe just Danger?

  7. Hi my name is Josh and I live in Melbourne, Aus. I have an albino agave that was seperated from its mother about 8 months ago and has been in my garden ever since. I noticed that it had grown at all over the spring/summer so i thought I would pot it. When I pulled it out i saw that the main root (that was attached to its mother) was dying, but it did have a couple of its own tiny little roots coming from the base. so i repotted it and hope it will pull through.
    If anyone has any ideas about how i can keep this guy alive it would be much appreciated.

  8. Hello Loree,

    So, ever since i started reading your blog, I've been keeping my eye out for agave plants for my fledgling garden (in Cully 'hood, NE Portland). Luckily, I nabbed one off a nice fellow on Craigslist who said it was the progeny of a very glorious (and enormous!) one South of my house on NE Sacramento street. Anyhow, this agave seller recommended I cover the agave with some kind of small plastic "umbrella'' type of cover when I transplant it into the ground because initially the rain might do not so nice things to it. My question for you is, is this what you'd recommend as well and, if you WOULD recommend doing that, for how long must this ''umbrella'' be placed over the agave? Thanks ever so much!!

    Here is a picture of it freshly planted. If you have any pointers, please let me know!


    1. What a great legacy, that Sacramento agave is amazing, congrats!

      Last fall I came up with plans for an umbrella type of structure to cover my agaves for the winter, then my husband politely explained why they wouldn't work (he's fairly practical that way) and the weather would destroy them (the structures), I was making them "pretty" not terribly functional. My plans were scrapped.

      First of all, as I'm sure you know, it's key to provide ample drainage when planting an agave, mixing in a course material with the native soil for example. Without that they will rot. Secondly by planting them at a bit of a tilt water won't be able to collect in the crown, which also causes rot. They want to be dry...something our winters are not. A plastic cover would certainly help with that goal, and as long as it allowed for air circulation (not extending all the way to the ground) I don't see why it would hurt. I would suggest leaving it in place as long as the rains are heavy.

      I've never actually covered mine, mainly because I hate the look. I want to appreciate the plants! Plus I'm curious as to what will survive here, with no protection. Did I answer your question? Feel to email me (spikyplants at gmail dot com)...also I love your pinterest photo and you've got some great pins! Good luck with the agave!

  9. Oh, that's a very good tip about planting the agave at a tilt. I made a small berm mound for it and mixed a bunch of sand and perlite into steer manure and native soil and I kept the soil from the pot around the roots. The area I planted that berm on used to be a gravel driveway, so there's a lot of gravel mixed into the dirt, which I hope makes the drainage situation better. I agree that a plastic cover thing would look bad (as I am not really capable of making a 'graceful' looking one), so maybe I'll just replant it at a tilt on the berm and hope for the best? Thanks again! Love, love the Danger Garden blog!


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