Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Autumn 2016 Agave Report

I haven't done an official "Agave Report" for two years. How is that possible? I filed the last one on November 17th, 2014. There was a sort of interim account done last year on November 19th, a count of all my Agaves, in ground and in containers — 179 — then. A few of those containerized plants been lost to a Mealy Bug infestation, it's not pretty and I'm not enjoying it. But we're not here to talk about that...

The subject of today's post is the in-ground Agaves. The ones that will spend winter outdoors, come hell or high-water. That's why I'm doing this post — we have no idea what winter 2016/17 holds — but this will be my record of what was. All photos were taken on October 12th and all Agaves have been in the ground through previous winter(s) unless labeled NTY (NTY = new this year). As a note of interest, this October has been wet. Damn wet. Over 8" of rain in just one month, poor things are off to a difficult start. Here goes!...(warning...60 photos!)...

Agave americana (and pups) there in the corner, or at least what I've always referred to as A. americana. Turns out it might actually be Agave americana var. protoamericana, which makes sense because that's a smaller and more cold-hardy version of the mammoth original.

Agave 'Silver Surfer'

A pup from one of my A. parryi 'JC Raulston', separated and planted at the base of the Genista aetnensis.

A pair of A. bracteosa.

The first of several Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' — note there are two pups at roughly 5 and 7 o'clock.

Looking north...

Yes, another A. parryi 'JC Raulston', or two.

And another.

And another! With three of it's own pups and a transplanted pup of Agave parryi var. couesii (NTY) tucked up close.

I visited my brother in Phoenix, Arizona, last month. We were talking about Agaves and I said something about having more in-ground Agaves than probably any other Portland gardener. He laughed and remarked I had more in-ground Agaves than most Phoenix gardeners. Hmm...he might have a point. But then again mine don't obtain the monster proportions that your average Arizona or Southern California plant does.

Left to right, a gift-pup from the humongous Agave in this garden (ID unknown), A. utahensis (NTY), and A. ocahui.

This one was just barely visible in the photo above, A. ovatifolia, not 'Frosty Blue'.

Another  A. americana or A. americana var. protoamericana — sibling to the one shown at the begining.

Gotta call NOID on this one. Inherited from Peter who inherited it from Sally. Maybe Agave filifera? (NTY) (*update, Gerhard thinks this may be Agave schidigera 'Black Widow' and I am inclined to agree, although it is a brighter green and lacks the typical white marks on the leaves*)

Ditto here, athough it may be A. havardiana (NTY).

Can you guess? Yes, the last A. parryi 'JC Raulston'.

And another A. ovatifolia.

Back around to where we started, and walking up the driveway now, a pair of Agave bracteosa.

NOID, a gift from my brother years ago. It had been in a container but I set it free this spring, I have no idea how hardy it is but we shall see! (NTY)

Another NOID, one that I inherited from Sally. I've been calling it A. americana var. protoamericana but now I'm not so sure.

Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw' (NTY)

The front door gang...

What is supposed to be (purchased as) Agave 'Mr. Ripple' (NTY)...

The poor Agave americana that bore the brunt of the Agave Edema episode.

I cut off its scarred arms when it was still dry out, but the wounds don't look so good. Here's hoping.

Agave utahensis (NTY)

My A. parryi from The Ruth Bancroft Garden (NTY).

And this which I recently referred to as Agave neomexicana but I think is actually A. havardiana.

On the other side of the front steps is one of my favorite autumn scenes.

Agave ovatifolia, growing out of it's Agave edema disfiguration quite nicely.

Another Agave utahensis (NTY), I bought a gallon sized container with several plants that I separated, that's why there are so many.

The second (slightly smaller) Agave ovatifolia.

Okay walking backwards, retracing our steps to the driveway and up along the side of the house. The solid blue/green guys will stay. The variegated pups have already been dug and will overwinter in the stock tank containers in the drive, along with a few other marginally hardy Agaves I had in the ground around the garden. Photo coming up soon...

NOID Agave on the left, and A. parryi on the right. The last of the front-garden Agaves!

This big boy (labeled as A. weberi when I got it from a friend) spends life here, next to the house, between the driveway stock tanks. (I've been wondering if A. weberi is the correct name for this one, I'd love to hear what you think...)

These next two photos are the only ones not taken on Oct 12th, I didn't get them all dug from around the garden until last week. As I said they will spend winter here, in the stock tanks, unless temps in the 20's F are predicted in which case I'll yank them and leave them in the basement 'til it warms.

Why do they migrate to the tanks? Better draining soil than where they were planted, and more winter sun. Plus they're not completely cold hardy, so I can keep an eye on them here much easier than spread around the garden.

To the back-garden we go!

Agave bracteosa

And another (NTY).

Here's one of the areas I refer to as an Agave burial mound — because the ground is built up to improve drainage it looks like a mound where some poor creature is buried.

There are so many Agaves crammed in here that I've lost track of what they all are, mostly because I never knew in he first place (missing or damaged labels when I acquired them via a rescue operation).

Looking closer...I think this one is Agave 'Baccarat', or perhaps A. montana...

And that big guy is probably Agave neomexicana.


This one almost bit it during the winter of 2013/14, but is pushing on.

The three A. parryi dish planters stay in place unless something crazy is predicted. It's hard to tell here but they've got legs.

This planting is next to the patio stairs, and, well are you getting tired of me saying I've lost track of names? Well, okay, but I have — some of them look so similar! I can point to the big guy on the left as being A. bracteosa, and the same for the small one on the upper far right. There's also an Agave utahensis pup in there (NTY).

Close up of the large A. bracteosa.

This pair are both A. 'Mateo' — pups separated from a larger plant in a container.

Here is another A. 'Mateo' and an Agave striata. The mass of wiggling brown on the left are Sedum spurium that have died back for the season. For being a tough plant it sure can turn quickly to ugly.

A. 'Mateo' close-up.

A. striata close-up.

Small A. parryi 'J.C. Raulston' pup.

Left to right: Agave gentryi 'Jaws', a tiny barely visible A. parryi 'J.C. Raulston' pup as well as a couple of A. gracilipes you can't see at all, Agave striata, and on the far right either A. neomexicana or havardiana...

The A. 'Sharkskin' is in a container, and to heavy to lift, so it spends winter here in place but with a PVC and plastic cover over it to keep it dry. The A. victoriae-reginae on the far left is moved to the shade pavilion greenhouse.

The same goes for Mr. Big (Agave americana 'Variegata') at the back, into the "greenhouse" for him (he's not actually planted in that big green container). The A. ovatifolia winters in place with cover. Why a cover? Since it's in a container I want to be sure to keep it dry.

Agave parryi var. couesii (NTY), the metal band is open at the bottom...

And A. bracteosa, also with an open bottom. And with that we're done! This concludes my Agave report for pre-winter 2016/17, thanks for playing along. I am hearing talk of a cooler, wet winter ahead... hang on spiky friends!

All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. You definitely have more agaves in the ground than I do. WOW. You're doing an amazing job keeping track of what is what. Smaller agaves are often notoriously difficult to keep apart.

    My 2 cents worth on a few specimens:

    -Agave filifera: Could be Agave schidigera 'Black Widow'

    -Agave weberi: The teeth are unusual. Usually it has no, or very fine, teeth.

    -Agave 'Baccarat': Looks more like Agave montana to me. 'Baccarat' is more glaucous.

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback regarding my keeping track. I felt like a failure having to say over and over again that I'd lost track of what was what! Also thanks for the 2-cents...

      Agave schidigera 'Black Widow' - is a definite possibility! I had one years ago that looked different (to my memory) but the photos online support this name.

      Agave weberi - yes! I discovered this during my trip to the Desert Botanical Garden. I started to go into that in this post but decided to just call out what I received it as and cover the "but what is it" in a future post. So any guesses on what it is?

      Agave 'Baccarat' - thank you! I waffled back and forth on that one...appreciate your weighing in on it.

    2. The droop to the leaves makes me wonder A. franzosinii which I just see was renamed to A. beauleriana. Oh, boy. But take that with a big old chuck of salt, not a grain.

  2. This was fun! I didn't realize it had been so long since you've done an Agave report. I was very tempted by the beautiful Agave ovatifolia at Cistus when I was there, but they were so expensive.

    1. You should have asked if they had any smaller ones back in the greenhouses...

  3. Fingers crossed, Loree, that you have the same count of spiky friends in spring. I still have a bunch of variegated mitis babies should you have any empty pots in 2017.

    1. Thanks Denise, I will take all the crossed fingers I can get! Last winter was horribly wet but if this one is wetter AND colder, well...it might be a bad spring. I will keep your generous offer in mind!

  4. Not only do you have far more agaves than I do in my SoCal garden, yours look healthier overall, despite the edema debacle (with which I've also had some problems). I've no idea how many I actually have and many of mine are still small, but perhaps I'll have to conduct an inventory one day.

    1. I would love to read of your inventory! As for the health, I bet come April mine will look a little worse for the wear.

  5. You really are the agave queen of the PNW! Hoping that your in the ground kiddos make it through the winter unscathed.

    1. Hmm...thinking on what my crown would look like...

  6. I'm so impressed with the number of agaves you have in the ground! This year I put a few more in the ground, but I think I have only about 7 in total. This winter's expected cold and wet may make sad gardeners of us, but if they come through it all it will be cause for celebration! (And why is it I always want A. stricta to be either an Aloe or a Yucca? They just don't feel like they should be Agaves!)

    1. It is an odd Agave. I tend to confuse it and Agave striata, why did two such similar plants have to get such similar names?

  7. I do enjoy seeing your agaves. It's almost like growing them myself, without the risk of impalement! Hopefully this winter is kind to your spiky treasures. I pulled my bracteosa pups and put them in the greenhouse for winter. They were still pretty small and I didn't want to risk losing them. They've already grown a bit in the greenhouse, and hopefully they'll grow faster in spring so I can put them back in the garden and have some impact.

    1. That was probably smart Evan. I wonder if I'll do something similar if the predictions get really nasty?

  8. I think your brother might be correct; that is a serious collection. Love the fall combo by the front door. Actually I just love all that milky blue foliage. Do you have to worry about the plants in the stock tank getting water-logged even with free-draining soil?

    1. Sure, especially in one of the tanks where the soil seems to have gotten heavier. I think it's the manure I mixed in for my tomatoes.

  9. Man, this is so cool! So far my two baby agaves are in pots wintering inside. Any idea if you'll host a HPSO Open Garden next year? It would be fantastic to see everything in person!

    1. Thanks Audrey! If I didn't have so many others inside (and in the "greenhouse") I'd probably be less willing to risk these. It's all a grand experiment! As for the HPSO I've got no plans at the moment, but if I do you'll hear about it here. Oh and the open gardens book too of course...

  10. Love this post and living vicariously through your Agave in-ground adventures. I just love them all. If I were you, I might even have more J.C. Raulstons. That's a seriously nice Agave. My A. havardiana that survived the winter outdoors will be giving it another go this year. They look gorgeous, but small. I think having them sheltered from morning sun helped last year, so they didn't warm up too quickly. Also a mild winter certainly played a big part. Here's hoping your Agaves sail through winter like champs!

  11. what an extensive and amazing agave collection you have! I keep wondering if someone will invent a stylish agave winter rain cover that looks like yard sculpture while shedding moisture from these precious beauties. Maybe you should invent such a thing! :)


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