Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Agave propagation successful in Monterey Bay climate – Santa Cruz Sentinel

This is the time of the year when agaves bloom. Let’s review how they propagate.

Agaves are popular plants for gardeners because of their range of sizes, colors and leaf forms. I have been collecting agaves for some time and possess been fascinated by their variations as well as their common characteristics.

Agaves, which are usually native to Mexico, Southern United States, or South America, grow well within the Monterey Bay area’s climate.

Most agave species have defensive spines—terminal or even marginal spines or both—that can be quite sharp. Some gardeners are “agave-aversive, ” for fear of being poked. Their self-preservation priorities are leaving attractive plants out of their own gardens.

Agaves can become safely grown placed away from walkways, weeded as needed with garden tongs, and transplanted while wrapped in a towel. These techniques are usually not needed with most other garden vegetation, but they open the particular landscape in order to an interesting group associated with plants.

The Agave is a very old plus fairly large plant genus that taxonomists divided the few years ago into three sub-genera: agave, littaea, and manfreda.

The relatively recent agave x manfreda hybrids yield mangaves, which combine their particular parents’ characteristics and provide a diverse new category of desirable garden plant life. Manfredas typically lack spines, so mangaves do because well, and can be appealing to agave-averse landscapers.

The littaea sub-genus is similar to—and older than—the agave sub-genus. These two sub-genera have one significant difference, which comes up later in this column.

The particular two-way distribution of agaves.

Most agaves propagate through rhizomatous growths, which are called offsets or “pups. ” They usually grow closely under the mother plant, forming tight clusters. The gardener can separate the pups from the mom and either replant them either nearby to create a colony or in another location, or make them available to other gardeners. They transplant easily.

Some agaves, known as solitary, do not produce offsets. Some landscapers prefer off-setting species, others prefer solitary species.

All agaves also propagate by producing the striking flower stalk that emerges from the center of the plant’s rosette. The stalk’s height varies with the varieties, ranging from 6 feet to as much as 40 feet.

The stalk develops into an inflorescence, a cluster of greenish-yellow flowers on individual stems. A few agaves have got orange or even red plants.

There are two architectures of the agave inflorescence, depending on the particular sub-genus.

The particular littaea sub-genus produces the raceme, which is a good elongate, unbranched, indeterminate inflorescence. Plants that have racemose inflorescences include foxtail agave (A. attenuata), octopus agave (A. vilmoriniana), and queen associated with white thread century plant (A. schidigera). I have specimens of these plants in my garden, but none are usually in blossom, so today’s column includes an example of this particular sub-genus through Wikipedia Commons.

The agave sub-genus produces a branched raceme, called a panicle. Plants which have paniculate inflorescences include the prominently big century grow (A. americana), which attracts attention whenever it blooms, and the particular variegated Caribbean agave (A. angustifolia var. marginata), now in bloom in my garden.

While agaves tend to blossom in the late summer, not all of these are in bloom at the same time. That’s because they take different numbers of years before producing a flower stalk, using the period which range from six-to-eight years (e. g., A. tequilana, The. angustifolia) in order to about 30 years (e. g., A. Victoria-reginae). The century plant’s common name implies an even longer time for it to blossom, but it really takes about 15 years.

Once an Agave blooms plus produces bulbils, it dies. This kind of plant is monocarpic. (Plants that will produce several generations associated with seeds or bulbils are polycarpic. )

It might seem sad to see an attractive and sometimes huge plant shrivel. Still, after the plant invests its energy into growing its floral stalk, this topples to the ground plus releases its new generation: a substantial number of bulbils that root on their own.

Agaves are fascinating plants with regard to their varied appearances and their two propagation methods—routine and ultimate—add to their performance within the backyard.

Advance your gardening knowledge

To learn more about agaves, visit Wikipedia. com and search for “agave” or even “List of agave types. ” These types of lists regretfully are not really divided simply by sub-genera.

Another helpful resource is Debra Lee Baldwin’s Agave page, available at debraleebaldwin. com/agave-photos-labeled-identified. It includes the gallery associated with agaves regarding identification.

An excellent book by Jeremy Spath & Jeff Moore will be “Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids” (2021). This large volume, which includes hundreds of photographs plus knowledgeable notes, is a valuable reference intended for the avid grower associated with agaves.

The particular Cactus and Succulent Society of America will present the webinar, “Tricks plus Tips for Propagating Succulents, ” at 10 a. m. Sept. 3. The presenter, Ernesto Sandoval, is the manager and curator from the Botanical Conservatory at the University of California, Davis. He is an enthusiastic grower of succulents who has deep knowledge associated with these vegetation.

Enjoy your own garden!

Tom Karwin is past president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the particular Monterey These types of Iris Community, a Lifetime Member of the Monterey Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, and a Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). He is usually now a board member of the particular Santa Johnson Hostel Modern society, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Society. To view daily photos from his garden, For garden coaching info and an archive of previous On Gardening columns, check out 

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