Some of you might remember I did a little battle with mealybugs last winter. I tossed a few Agaves because of it, but nothing I was really upset about losing. Just some random ones I'd acquired along the way.
But now, things have been amped up a bit.
Last week I spent a good chunk of time moving the tender succulents into the basement. Not because of frost — thankfully that's still weeks away — but because hauling those containers down the stairs is easier when they're dry. Add in a little water weight (from the autumn rains) and they get heavy fast. Plus they'll handle winter much better if they come in not soaking wet. Part of my routine is to look over the plants carefully, clean them up and dispatch any hitch-hikers. I found my mealybug situation had worsened.
Above and below is Agave desmettiana 'Variegata'. Nothing particularly special about it, other than the fact it's my oldest Agave. A gift from my brother it has been with me since before I moved to Portland, we've been together for 14 years. I really thought I might someday see this guy bloom.
But not now, he's gone. Besides the bugs found on the leaves at soil level they were thick on the new leaves as I pulled them back from the middle spike, who knows what was further in, between the leaves I couldn't pry apart. I stood there for a good long time trying to decide if I wanted to attempt a battle to save it. Once I dumped the pot and saw they were congregated along the roots my decision became obvious.
What would you have done?
This is Agave macroacantha, one of a pair.
When moving containers as part of the "migration" process I noticed there were a zillion ants under this one. And a few little white guys...
Pulling the plant free I discovered more.
Keep it and battle the bugs, or toss it? What would you have done?
Oh my beautiful Agave 'Felipe Otero' (I think that's what it is? There is some confusion between A. 'Felipe Otero' and A. titanota)...
And this ugliness greeted me when I broke apart the center spike on my Agave geminiflora.
What would you have done?
As it is I ended up tossing the Agave desmettiana 'Variegata', one of the Agave macroacantha, Agave geminiflora, Agave gypsophila 'Blue Wave' and yes Agave ‘Joe Hoak’. I couldn't bear to document it all (my heart is breaking a little — oh ya — let's stop and take a picture...).
I felt one of the Agave macroacantha and the A. 'Felipe Otero' were good candidates for rehabilitation. Stripped of their soil, and drenched with Gerhard's mixture of 70% isopropyl alcohol, soap, and water, they're segregated and I'm watching them.
Since this is a "Learn from my mistakes" post you might be wondering what it is that I learned? Well...when I first spotted the mealys I should have been more severe in my response. Agave 'Joe Hoak' was the first (back in January of 2015), an expensive plant that I wasn't willing to just toss. I should have taken it outside and dumped it from the container, looking closely at the soil and evaluating the next steps. I did not and I regret it.
And yes, I plan to work through the entire collection, over the coming weeks, pulling them and inspecting the soil and taking action as needed. Oh the life of a gardener, if it's not one thing it's another!
All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.