Thursday, December 10, 2015

Learn from my mistakes #18 - don't drown the Agave!

Last summer I planted this Agave bracteosa, careful to mix in lots of course material and happy to have found that metal ring - which allowed the soil around the Agave to be built up while also being completely open at the bottom -for excellent drainage.

But what I failed to take into account was the fact I planted it at the base of the stock tank pond. When the winter rains hit, the pond tends to fill to overflowing and a constant stream of water falls to the ground around it, where the poor Agave was planted. DUMB!

I've been out there removing buckets of water from the tank since discovering my error. What was I thinking? Oh and if you're wondering the photo above was taken before our freeze, thus the happy, upright, Castor Bean leaves.

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


24 comments:

  1. Tip: drill a relatively small hole as high as you can in the side, facing away from plants that you want to stay dry. That will be your "overflow". Won't help if you get a downpour, but then the Agave will be getting soaked anyway. I do this with my papyrus pot so I can fill it with water but not have visible standing water above the soil line (for mosquito control) -- the hole is a little lower in that case but it works.

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    1. Never in a million years would I have thought of that. Duh. Thank you.

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  2. I have the same overflowing issue. I wonder if drilling a hole or two at the desired water level would be a good idea?

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    1. You and Alan (above) are geniuses!

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  3. I wouldn't have anticipated that problem either. From what I remember, A. bracteosa tolerates excess water better than other species.

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    1. Thank you (I'm not alone!). Yes indeed, they do - that's why I've got several in the ground...still, I don't want to push things too far.

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    2. Before reading the replies, I had a similar idea in mind to Alan, except my thought was to drill the hole inconspicuously to the rear, at the level desired such that overfill is drained from there, with clear flexible tubing of 1/2" dia or smaller installed into the hole with the tubing run as far as needed away from the plants of concern. The tube can be calked on the inside with clear polyurethane sealant, which would not only seal, but fix the tube to the metal container. The tubing can be run away as far as needed, and being clear, unobtrusive - nearly invisible, and can even be hidden further on the ground covered with pebbles, etc.

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    3. Not only does your solution sound elegant, but like something my husband would enjoy tackling. Thank you Tom!

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  4. I like to have my tank as full as possible for a mirror-like effect, so I'd be leery of drilling a top hole. If it were me, I'd just move the agave. But yeah, we all make mistakes. I once planted a stock tank without remembering to remove the plug. My drought tolerant plants were practically floating in a bog before I noticed my mistake.

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    1. I was thinking of this too, but you could also file a little groove in the rim on the side you want to overflow. That will help it spill where you want it to -- unless the tank is not entirely level and leans toward the "wrong" plants.

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    2. Pam, you too? Back when I had a Gunnera planted in a tank I would put the plug in over the summer and pull it when the rain started in the fall. One year I forgot, oh my, what a mess!

      Alan, I wish you were my next door neighbor.

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  5. The news is full of stories about the flooding rains in Oregon. I hope it eases up and you're successful in thwarting any plant drownings. I'm actually a bit worried about what El Nino may do to my garden too - I will be very, very unhappy if all my succulent and other drought-tolerant selections die from too much water.

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    1. I'm concerned Kris, it's just been nonstop! We shall see. I've got so many Agaves in the ground now, they've withstood a lot - but this is a test of a different proportion.

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    2. Fortunately, El Niño years tend to be milder in the PNW temperature-wise, so that may save us: especially if it dries out in January as predicted. I have my Ovatafolia Frosty Blue covered along with my Grey Pups, but I have Weberi Arizona Star, a Harvardiana and a Neomexicana agave in big exposed pots, and so far they are doing well.
      Knock on wood.

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  6. Glad you are not flooded! Hopefully Portland is drying out a bit.

    The Agave looks pretty happy, despite the rain.

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    1. Wednesday was mostly dry, it was wonderful. Back at it yesterday and today. What a mess it is!

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  7. Always something to learn. But who would've guessed you'd have so much rain! I love your arrangement of the stock tank, the potted plant, and the Agave. This would be a great post for the Lessons Learned meme, if you'd like to participate. :)

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    1. Thanks for the link PP, I will check it out! And yes...for awhile they were saying we'd have a dry winter. Ha!

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  8. See what happens when one fesses up to mistakes? Other bloggers come along and solve your problems for you!

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    1. The internet is a problem solver!

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  9. I've never tried to plant an agave because I worry that they would all hate a temperate climate... that raised ring is a good idea! Hopefully your little guy pulls through.

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    1. Oh you should definitely give it a try...you'll never know unless you do!

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  10. Oops. Hope no serious damage was done. I think I lost one of the two agaves I planted this summer to the freeze the week of Thanksgiving. It looked ok, but it was turning soft.

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  11. Looks like you discovered your mistake in time.

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