Monday, November 5, 2012

An Agave Story, Chapter 2

If you missed Chapter 1 of the Agave Story you’ll want to start here, at the Outlaw Garden. All caught up? Okay on to the next chapter...

Last Sunday I had a date with the Outlaw Gardener himself. The plan was to pick up the agaves that he’d rescued for me and then grab a bite to eat before I headed home to Portland. As luck would have it I arrived at his house before he did, so I had a few minutes to wander around the public face of his garden, I only wished I had gotten there sooner so I could have taken more photos…

Hot lips!

Love this Grevillea...

And wish I could have gotten a better photo of the flowers!

So about those agaves, I thought there were 3, or maybe 4, 1-gallon sized plants waiting for me.

Nope! Make that five 1-gallon, three 2-gallon, a 5-gallon and a pristine Agave angustifolia that Peter said he wasn't interested in overwintering (it’s a zone 9 plant), but I think was actually a gift. Because even though he’s an "outlaw" Peter is a very generous person. Car all loaded up I hit the road…

As I drove home, straining to see the road and the cars around me (it was a grey, rainy, miserable drive home) my mind wandered back to my special passengers and I glanced at the one next to me…wait a second! What’s that stick in the middle of the plant?

It looks like the remains of a bloom spike, but this agave is certainly not dead. It might look a little rough around the edges but it's alive. Could it be? A non-monocarpic agave?

Yes indeed. I remember having read something once upon a time about the possibility of a couple agaves that were not monocarpic and sure enough after a little research I confirmed the Agave striata var. striata lives on after blooming to form a clump, how exciting!

Fast forward to last Thursday when the constant downpours stopped and the sun actually came out for a bit. Like a kid with a room full of Christmas presents to explore I went outside to inspect my new agave patients. First up, Agave funkiana…

I cut off a few less than attractive leaves and started to clean the plant up a bit pulling it out of the container to get a look at the roots and, well, the whole thing came off in my hand.

I saw the little roots sticking out of the bottom of the clump and thought about replanting it in a fresh (drier) pot but the leaves kept falling so easily off the plant that it seemed like a lost cause. One down. This was not a good way to start.

Moving on to Agave americana, or possibly A. americana “something” but we’ll never know as this is all there was for a tag...

This one looks pretty good. A little scaring on the leaves but the base is solid. Yay!

The smaller of these two is labeled Agave americana var. protoamericana (at least I’m assuming what the missing letters are), the larger has no tag.

They do look quite similar so I thought maybe that's what they both are. However the teeth are a bit different.

And yikes, look at those roots!

Next up is this little guy, suffering from “failure to separate” disorder. Yes I just made that up…sometimes an unfurling agave leaf gets stuck and the one inside starts to push out and it creates an unhappy distortion, like this…

Not looking so good eh? When I first read its tag I assumed it had accidently ended up with this plant. After all this looks nothing like the ‘striata’ above right?

Well thank goodness I looked it up because what I discovered was this plant is indeed (hopefully) an Agave americana ‘striata’…which is much much different that the Agave striata var. striata above. In fact it’s a plant I've been wanting since I first saw it at San Marcos back in 2009. I just didn't recognize it as such because the colors are so washed out (lack of sun?) if you look closely you can see some of the striping. How exciting!

Next up…this one had no label at all, but it looks good! I think it might be Agave ‘Cornelius’ or maybe just Agave americana variegata. Any other guesses?

Here’s the beauty queen of the group, Agave angustifolia…I think one looks a lot like Agave desmettiana in its graceful form, and the fact that it’s not hardy here in zone 8. Into the basement it went for the winter.

Finally this pair…

Only one of them had a label but they look so similar I’m going to assume they are both Agave neomexicana. Which is very very good news as I’ve had luck with this agave in the past…

They both look fabulous and with all those pups they are obviously pretty happy.

Such graceful spikes!

Speaking of happy here’s the Agave striata after I removed the dead and broken spikes.

And look it’s starting to form a clump!

Here’s the whole group all cleaned up and ready for their class photo…

I wish they had a long hot summer ahead of them instead of a cold dark winter, but I’ll do my best to help them along to a full recovery. Thank you Peter (and Sally) for this agave windfall! I just hope I’m not becoming some crazy agave hoarder.


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