Monday, November 18, 2013

Agave crop circles

Scanning the captive agaves the other day I noticed the lower leaves of this Agave parryi var. neomexicana turning an ugly shade of blackish purple.

After pulling it out for closer inspection I realized the problem was pretty advanced. Damn. This one was a gift and the very image of perfection when I received it last summer. Past experience has shown if I remove all the rotting leaves and get the plant completely out of the soil and let it dry up it can usually be saved. I’d started to do just that but then began to get creeped-out by the mini crop-circles stippled on the leaves.

What the heck?

What’s at work here?

I want to try and save it, after all it is (was) a gorgeous plant, and it's already having babies. But fear it might not be a good idea if something really nasty is taking over. What do you think?

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

24 comments:

  1. I've never seen these circles. Fungus, I'd say.

    I'd do what you suggested. Take it out of the pot, separate the pups if they look undamaged, peel off or cut away the rotted parts and let what's left competely callus over. With any luck, it will re-root, especially if you put it on a seedling heat mat.

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    1. Thanks Gerhard. I suppose I really should buy a seedling heat mat one of these days...

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  2. I would agree, that a good dry out may solve the problem, but if you are worried you could take it out of the pot, remove the soil and then cut the main plant out leaving the pups to use the root system to continue growing, This may work better than removing the pups.

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    1. Interesting idea! Thanks Spiky O

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  3. Agave neomexicana and havardiana - those that can take severe cold but hate cool and moist - are susceptible to this, although most of them can get it in lesser amounts. They tend to do it less if they are kept as sunny and dry as possible, and once established in the ground. Yes, you can definitely save the pups, and even the main plant if the center isn't rotted out - just peel all the bad stuff away and keep it nearly dry thereafter until spring.

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    1. Dry until spring...thank god I didn't put it in the ground. Thanks Ian.

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  4. I vote for saving the plant if it is not completely rotten.

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    1. Indeed that is always the best choice!

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  5. Too much sci-fi on your TV...some of the aliens escaped!

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    1. I like the way you think, only problem is neither one of us are sci-fi fans. Perhaps I need to monitor Lila's television habits when we're not home.

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  6. A little dusting of sulphur over the affected areas and the rest of the plant could help in its recovery too.

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    1. That's a new one for me...thanks guys!

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  7. Could it be Anthracnose? See page 5 here: http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1399.pdf

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    1. Wow yes...that has got to be it! I know this poor guy didn't get anymore water than the rest (and was planted in the same soil mix) but perhaps it was in more shade as the summer wore on and the sun angle changed. Thanks for the link.

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  8. Yuk, that's just nasty! I'll be watching my neomexicana very carefully through this winter. Good luck with the extreme surgery!

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    1. I was going to call it Agave yuckaoides but didn't want anyone thinking I thought I knew what I was talking about. It is gross, plants shouldn't ooze.

      (I do have a couple of neomexicana that have done very well in the ground)

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  9. Ringworm! Take it to the doctor right away! I'm voting for jdub's response.

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    1. I almost called it that but I am totally and completely grossed out by that word...so I didn't.

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  10. It wouldn't be an infestation similar to aloe mites, would it? The rings look like growths, but that's just from seeing the pictures.

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    1. Oh that would be horrible...I hope not. So far none of the others seem to be effected.

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  11. As a sci-fi fan, you grabbed my attention…what a (fascinating) bummer. :( Thanks jdub for the info.

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    1. Plants, always up to something interesting aren't they?

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  12. That's always sad, and I even have experienced that in the desert. I vote to save those pups and keep it in a pot. And a dose of sunny, dry weather is in the mail...

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  13. Agave havardiana has been prone to the same thing here in my Berkeley garden over winter. As most Agaves are rather idiot proof in my climate, it really surprised me. Previously only one Agave parryi got this one winter when it rained non-stop for ten days in a row, and the pot wasn't in full day sun. Proof that cold hardiness doesn't always correspond with cool/wet/shade hardiness over winter in a lot of Agaves.

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