Agave americana ‘Medio Picta Alba’

Tender <sigh> but perhaps the most spectacular variegated Agave. It makes a great container plant for LARGE containers. To 5′ x 5′, it grows a little slower in containers. Make sure it’s sturdy and well built too because this puppy has been known to grow so vigorously as to shatter its own home. Use well drained cactus mix and add a handful of all organic fertilizer. Move to a freeze free environment such as an unheated garage if temperatures threaten to drop below 20ºF. Otherwise move it to a dry place for winter- under a south facing eave is ideal. Move it back out in the open when rain dwindles.  Light summer water will speed growth. Leaves on this form are blue on the edges with a dramatic pure white stripe down the center. Wow.

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Agave bracteosa

Far and away the easiest Agave to cultivate in our climate and the handsome contorted sage green leaves are free of a deadly spike at the tip. Don’t be fooled, though. The leaves are lined in fine serrations that can cause a cut if you rub your person against them. To 3′ tall and as wide for very well-drained soils in full sun to very light shade. Amend the soil with pumice to sharpen drainage if needed. Ideally adapted to slopes. Good dimensions as a large focal point in a rock garden or clustered into clumps in the gravel bed. Accepts the highest reflected heat. Light summer water speeds growth.

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Agave harvardiana

Spikes! A very upright and pokey Agave with steel blue/gray foliage that forms large rosettes. To 3′ across eventually this cold hardy Agave demands excellent drainage but is worth the effort. VERY well drained soil- amend with liberal amounts of pumice and gravel. Excellent on a slope. Plant with the rosette tilted to shed winter water. Makes new pups happily and they will often come up quite a distance from the parent plant. To 3′ tall when up and established. Great in containers that you protect from winter wet. Move to a covered place in fall- a south facing eave is sufficient. Cold hardy below 0ºF- when established. Best to plant in March or April so that it has the longest possible season to develop a tap root going into its first winter. Light summer water to none. High deer resistance.

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Agave parryi ‘Flagstaff’

From the very far north end of this variable species range in Northern Arizona near—‘Flagstaff’. High elevation form that is found above 7000′ in the wild. Very cold hardy moderately large Agave. Full sun and very well drained soil. You must amend the soil with pumice and gravel to avoid wet accumulating around the crown in winter. This is made all the more easy by placing on a slope. The rosettes should be tilted to shed winter wet. Very stiff and sharply tipped steel blue leaves form a rosette that is at first upright then spreads out a little. Remove leaves from deciduous plants that collect in the rosette in autumn- they blow in from god knows where and leaving them can encourage rot. Excellent in containers. Move containerized plants under an eave or overhang to keep it dry in winter. No water required after initial establishment. Beautiful form of this cold hardy species. High deer resistance.

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Agave parryi ssp. couesii

A really pretty pale blue Agave with sharp angular leaves in a remarkably symmetrical rosette with age. Cold hardy and it requires very well drained soil in a hot position. A south facing slope is ideal in soil that has been amended with liberal amounts of pumice and gravel. And you should tilt the rosette so that water does not collect in winter. This variety is a little slower than others. Aside from perfect drainage it requires a little bit of heat and patience. To 20″ tall by 30″ wide in time. Great container subject- make sure the container is sturdy and large enough to accommodate both a spreading primary rosette and prolific pups which crowd the base. In time it can form bold colonies. Move containerized plants to a dry location in winter. Remove deciduous tree leaves that collect in the rosette in autumn to stave off rot. SW U.S. High deer resistance.

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Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana

New Mexico Agave is a spike wonder. Much more upright-growing than the species with sharp-tipped leaves that terminate in a blood red thorn. OW. Forms a very symmetrical plant with many leaves of steel blue. Full sun and VERY WELL-DRAINED soil. Excellent on hot slopes where it will tilt the rosette to avoid winter wet. Pups, heh, freely and you will soon have many rosettes. Amend the soil with pumice and gravel. Make sure there is plenty of air in the soil and no place where water could collect. Fantastic specimen plant for a dry garden/gravel garden. Water through the first summer to establish then none in subsequent years. Clean out the rosette when deciduous leaves collect in there- a shop vac works great. The leaves will cause rot when they decompose….so they must go. Great in containers- large, sturdy containers. Cold hardy. High deer resistance.

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Agave parryi ssp. truncata

Consistently one of the most successful Agaves for gardens in our region. Soft gray rosettes have leaves with a distinct upright habit. At the tips of the wide leaves is a single (deadly) black thorn. Very nice. Full sun and very well drained soil with little to no summer water when established. This Agave requires soil that is never soggy- amend heavily with pumice and gravel to create air pockets. Plant this (and all) hardy Agaves in our climate on a tilt. The tilted rosette sheds rainwater and it keeps it much drier in winter. Ideally, this Agave should be sited on a hot, south facing slope. In autumn deciduous leaves from (everywhere) seem to blow into the rosette and collect. You must remove these immediately so that they do not rot the center of the plant. A shop vac works wonders…so do bar-B-Q tongs. Excellent in containers. Its best to plant hardy Agaves in early spring to early summer. They require a long season to develop a tap root which in turn ensures that they are cold hardy. No tap root and not so hardy. Hardy below 0ºF when dry. Highly deer resistant.

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Aloe striatula

We’ve grown a lot of Aloes with purported cold and wet hardiness and this is the one that has been the most successful. A large succulent shrubby plant with rosettes of deep green succulent foliage. In late summer to autumn a showy display of large yellow flower spikes can occur. Very pretty and loved by all nectar seeking folks. Give this South African perennial VERY GOOD DRAINAGE in full sun and a warm position.  A slope is always helpful. Amend the soil with plenty of gravel and sand as well as compost- these guys do need to eat- so a little handful of organic fertilizer is recommended. Capable of freezing to the ground (below 15ºF) and resprouting from the base when truly warm weather arrives. Plant on a south or west facing slope preferably against a warm wall or boulder for added reflected heat. Easy, if large, container plant that you should protect from temperatures in the teens. To 3′ x 3′ on average in our climate. Mostly evergreen here. Combine with Agave, Cactus which will also increase their growth rate if you provide light, consistent water during hot weather.

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Cylindropuntia whipplei ‘White Spine’

Love this small growing Cholla that has the most amazing luminescent white spines. Densely branching low plant to 2′ tall by 3′ wide in time. Not terribly fast growing. Fast draining soils that have been amended heavily with gravel and pumice and ideally on a slope will make this a focal point in the dry garden. Light summer water will speed growth. Extremely cold hardy and not terribly fussy. Give it an open position with sun all day long. Wonderful in rock gardens. Flowers we have not seen but we assume with this species that they will be pink/purple in summer. Highly deer resistant. Great container plant. Move to a dry position in winter just for extra protection from wet.

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Dasylirion wheeleri

Sotol or Desert spoon is an excellent Yucca relative that does amazingly well in our climate given the correct conditions. Native to the northern Chihuahuan Desert of northern Mexico into Arizona and stretching to the east through New Mexico into Texas is where you will find this handsome desert dweller. Rosettes of serrated blue green leaves radiate out in a circular orb. The ends of each leaf become frizzy and add an overall hazy texture to the plant. In time, when happy 9′ spikes erupt from the center and display columns of small white flowers. Very well drained soil in a full, hot position. Excellent on hot, south facing slopes but perfectly at home in the dry gravel garden. Foliage to 3′ x 3′ slowly. Evergreen. Light summer water to establish then none in subsequent years. Great in containers. High deer resistance.

 

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