Thursday, February 27, 2014

Agave bracteosa is my favorite plant in the garden, this week...

It’s kind of a tortured looking little thing to be a favorite, right?

Yes...it is, but I also thought it was dead and it turns out that it's not, so that's what I'm celebrating. This nice-sized Agave bracteosa went in the ground in the spring of 2012. It did great for the first few months but then sort of flopped over and proceeded to look awful. Last I checked on it I was sure it was doomed, the center leaves pulled right out. Then (I'm embarrassed to admit) I kind of forgot about it. A combination of Acnistus australis, Yucca Bright Star and Banksia marginata grew faster and stronger and buried it. I wasn't until 2 out of the 3 died back that I rediscovered the Agave, and the fact it had pushed out an entirely new center.

How cool is that? I'm going to have to figure out a way to do right by this little survivor and make sure it can power on.

This is my best looking Agave bracteosa in the ground.

In fact, from what I've seen, these are one of the best "in-ground" agaves here in Portland.

Here's where I hijack this "fav" post to share my latest agave sadness. My biggest and most beautiful Agave americana, the focal point when you approach my garden from the south....

Is showing it's reaction to our very cold and wet winter. The center new growth "cone" is soft and discolored. This is not good. Not good at all.

The other oldest/2nd largest has lost several leaves (or arms, as I like to call them). You can see the latest amputation here. The soft discolored bits are surrounding the center of the plant, and I'm worried. I know these aren't the hardiest agaves but they were gift pups that had grown tired of the containerized life. It was all a grand and wonderful experiment while it lasted, of course I wanted it to go on forever...

Okay on to the stats on the much more reliable Agave bracteosa…
  • wants full sun with little water (that means good drainage for those of us "blessed" with lots of rain)
  • can grow to be 2-4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide
  • hardy to 10-15 degrees F (lower when kept dry)
  • and most importantly (for some people) this agave has no terminal spikes or teeth along the leaf margins. It’s an agave that won’t bite!

What's your favorite plant in the garden this week?

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

31 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry about your loss and amputation! Is forever too much to ask? Sometimes I wonder about our torturing plants that really don't want to live here. The thought passes quickly, mind you.

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    1. Thank goodness, I was afraid you were about to tell me you were getting rid of all your tender plants!

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  2. Along with JC Raulston, Bracteosa is #1 on my buy list! What a trooper! Looks tropical, takes the cold and wet. I've read it likes some afternoon shade. Maybe the yucca and banksia helped this agave out.
    Jim NE Tabor

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    1. I've heard that about shade too, I figure those words of wisdom are meant for sunnier/hotter climates than ours. I've got a couple out in the front garden, with a gravel mulch, that get baked by hot summer sun. Doesn't seem to phase them one bit.

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  3. A few years ago I bought an Agave 'Mateo', a hybrid between Agave bracteosa and Agave lophantha. It has bracteosa's undulating leaves but wider and darker green with a faint strip down the middle. More significantly, it grows MUCH faster than A. bracteosa. It's hardy to 10°F so it might do well in your garden!

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    1. I bought one of those last summer. Love it! I planted it in a container, but it's pups in the ground. They look pretty good. It was late in the season (August) so they didn't have much time in the ground before the season turned. Is yours in the ground?

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    2. Yep, mine is in the ground. It had one pup when I bought it, and I haven't noticed any others. I was surprised by how quickly it's grown--at least compared to A. bracteosa, which I find glacially slow.

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  4. A. bracteosa is quickly turning into a favorite plant in my garden. It had been in protected pots but it will be going into the ground soon. The form is so different from most agaves that I like the contrast.

    Many A. americana plants are showing signs of stress even in our more hospitable climate. It's just been a tough winter.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that about your A. americana's Shirley! Indeed I am more than ready to call this winter DONE!

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  5. I have one of these, which spent the winter outside on my covered front porch with a little bottom heat, and seems to have sailed through. I'm starting to wonder if I should try it in the ground, or maybe in one of the raised culvert planters. I could rig something to cover it in the winter.

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    1. I'd definitely try it one of your culvert planters!

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  6. Agave bracteosa 'Calamar' is the best looking Agave left in the ground in my garden - it came through all the cold basically unscathed. I think it will take me some time to get the courage again to plant more agaves in the ground.

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    1. I said that once about phormium. I think it took me about 2 years...

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  7. I'm sorry to hear that your agave americana are struggling but it's good that you can find comfort in the revival of the Agave bracteosa. My contribution this week is another tough plant: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2014/02/my-favorite-plant-this-week-phlomis.html

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    1. True, one must remember the positives!

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  8. Ooh, you've made up my mind to put mine in the ground to replace my poor mushy A. parryi. I'm so dismayed about your agave losses--I thought Americana was hardier than that.

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    1. Yay! I think you'll be happy with it there.

      You know I was thinking about your agaves, the ones that look so good. Didn't some of them come to you as A. americana? I bet there a cross of some sort.

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  9. It pushed out an entirely new centre after it came out months previously, cool! It's amazing how tough this agave is considering its provenance. Sorry about the Americana, hopefully the soft spotting on the other one won't progress any more and that it's actually ok and will carry on growing.

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    1. I have hope about the other A. americana...now if it would just stop raining and warm up!

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  10. They are my favourite hardy agave. I've said before it is strange they are not more popular.
    Sorry about the americana

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    1. It is strange, I wonder why? Not spiky enough?

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    2. It could be that they do not have the same neat structure as most agaves and without spines, don't fit into that dangerous group either.

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  11. Ha, my 2 bracteosas were among the first two of my agave to kick the bucket. so glad they are doing well for you.

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    1. Our climates are quite different...

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  12. We must celebrate the survivors!

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  13. What a tough little cookie. He definitely deserves the spotlight. I hope that A. americana pulls through - who knows? They do surprise us :) I wish the teeth on mine were as pronounced as yours! I had to stare at that for a while and soak it in haha. Love them.
    Better late than never, here's my (also a survivor of sorts - rabbit attack) favourite: http://crmbsgrdn.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/my-favourite-plant-in-garden-this-week.html

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    1. It's such a cool plant (the americana), the leaves are so much shorter than they would be in it's natural environment, but just as wide. A plump little plant with big teeth!

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  14. Agave bracteosa is my favorite among the hardy agaves. It's so tentacular, I could imagine it reaching out and snaring passing deer as they browse through my garden. What? A guy can dream, can't he?

    Here's my (rather late) contribution: http://practicalplantgeek.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-favorite-plantthis-week.html

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    1. Tentacular is my new favorite word. I just have to be really careful to enunciate well.

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    2. Ha! That gave me a good chuckle. :)

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