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Agaves in the Garden A Guide to Selecting, Growing and Enjoying Agaves AZ1336 Jack Kelly Commercial Horticulture Agent.

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Presentation on theme: "Agaves in the Garden A Guide to Selecting, Growing and Enjoying Agaves AZ1336 Jack Kelly Commercial Horticulture Agent."— Presentation transcript:

1 Agaves in the Garden A Guide to Selecting, Growing and Enjoying Agaves AZ1336 Jack Kelly Commercial Horticulture Agent

2 Agave 200 - 250 species identified and described Native to Western U.S., south through Mexico, Central America and the West Indies

3 Grow in area from 0 to 7000ft. in elevation Howard Scott Gentry divided the species into two groups

4 Those with a spike inflorescence (54 species) Those with a panicle inflorescence (82 species)

5 Types of Inflorescence (Courtesy of Arizona Press: Agaves of Continental North America)

6 Agave Basics Plant in well-draining soil Provide adequate light - many species prefer partial sun or filtered light

7 Carefully choose a micro-climate Best when planted during warm weather to aid in root development

8 Use organic amendments carefully - too much can interfere with proper drainage and lead to rotting Protect from direct sun when planting nursery grown plants. Plant at the same orientation as grown in the nursery

9 Know the mature size of the plant and space accordingly Be aware of spines especially in areas of pedestrian traffic

10 Remove any damaged roots from field grown plants and allow to dry for several days in the shade Plant in a shallow wide hole with a minimum of organic amendment in the backfill

11 Water thoroughly after planting and determine the irrigation schedule Do not use organic mulches; use decomposed granite or rock Keep water off of wide-leaved agaves to prevent spotting of the foliage

12 Container Growing Choose appropriate varieties such as A. victoriae-reginae, A. parryi var. pattoni, A. fernandi-regis, A. macroacantha. Larger species require larger pots From Left to Right: A macroacantha, A. victoriae-reginae, A. parryi var.pattoni

13 Use a quick - draining medium Use slow release fertilizer or liquid fertilizers such as Miracle - Gro™, Peter’s™, etc.

14 Under-pot to aid in soil drying out between waterings Plant slightly high in container with lower leaves above the soil

15 Plant in clay containers and water regularly Choose ‘ideal’ location in partial sun to place container Re-pot every 3- 4 years

16 Light Exposure Most agaves prefer filtered light or be accompanied by small native shrubs that will provide some filtered light.

17 Growing and Rooting Medium 50% Pumice 25 - 30 % Sphagnum Peat Moss/Compost 20 -25% Soil

18 Agave species

19 A. americana

20 A. americana ‘Medio Picta’

21 A. colorata

22 A. durangensis

23 A. fernandi regis (hybrid of A. asperirima x A. Victoriae reginae forma nickelsii

24 A. geminiflora

25 A. havardiana

26 A. X leopoldi

27 A. lophantha

28 A. macroacantha

29 A. murpheyi

30 A. palmeri

31 A. parryi var. huachucensis


33 A. parryi patoni

34 A. parryi var. truncata


36 A. parryi var. truncata ‘Huntington Clone’

37 A parviflora

38 A. schidigera Photo Courtesy of Greg Starr

39 A. toumeyana



42 Agave hybrid: A. scabra X A. fernandi regis

43 Same hybrid as the previous slide but grown in full sun

44 A. victoriae - reginae


46 A. weberi

47 Vegetative Propagation









56 Octopus Agave Agave vilmoriniana Source of ‘bulbils’ for propagation

57 A. vilmoriniana bulbils




61 Seed Medium 50% Pumice (Perlite can be used as a substitute for pumice) 25% Sand 20% Sphagnum Peat Moss 5% Vermiculite Top dress with 1/4 inch of pumice


63 The Spoilers



66 Agave Snout Weevil Adult Approximate Size 1/2 inch

67 Agave Snout Weevil Larvae Actual Size Approximately 1/3 inch

68 Damage caused by a minute plant bug (Caulotops barberi)

69 Freeze Damage on Agave


71 F. A. Q.

72 Commonly Asked Questions Q: Do all agaves die after they bloom? A: Most agaves die after blooming (monocarpic), however several species such as A. braceosa are polycarpic and may bloom several times during their life. The rosette that flowers will die if the inflorescence comes from the center of the plant. The off setting types will have other rosettes that live, but the one that flowers will eventually die.

73 Q. Once a plant gets infested by Agave Snout Weevil, can the plant be saved? A. Typically there is no control that will save the plant. The rot organisms have a perfect environment (water, warmth and sugar) for rapid growth.

74 Q. What are the differences between agaves and yuccas? A. Yuccas bloom almost every year, agaves do not; yuccas have typical bell shaped blooms, agaves do not have true petals (they have tepals - petals and sepals that are nearly indistinguishable); yucca flowers are white, agave flowers may be white, pink, red or yellow. All yuccas except Yucca whipplei will continue to live after blooming. Yuccas have a superior ovary while agaves have an inferior ovary. Yuccas do not have showy teeth along their leaf edges while many agaves do.

75 Q. How often should I water my agave plants? A. Like most other plants, it depends on the weather and the time of year. Agaves will withstand long spells of drought (especially in winter) and will require 1 - 2 times a week watering during the hottest months.They are capable of standing prolonged dryness, but look better with regular irrigation. If you have particularly sandy soil, irrigation frequency is increased; on heavy clay soils the frequency will be decreased.

76 Q. How often do I fertilize my agaves? A. Agaves can survive on low fertility soils but will grow more rapidly and look better with regular fertilization during the spring through fall. No fertilization is recommended during the winter and cooler month.

77 Q. How long do agaves live? A. Agaves can live for many years (more than 25 years). The longevity depends on the species. Some species such as Octopus agave (A. vilmoriniana) live about 5-7 years, bloom and die. Some parryi species live more than 25 years. If the plant is well cared for the longevity will be greater than a poorly maintained plant.

78 Valuable additions to your library: Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants, A Gardener’s Guide, Mary and Gary Irish, Timber Press, Portland Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-442-3. Cost: Approximately $35 US Agaves of Continental North America, Howard Scott Gentry, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, ISBN 0-8165-0775-9. Cost: Approximately $125 US hard bound, $35 US soft bound

79 Credits Mary and Gary Irish, from Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants, A Gardener’s Guide, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon Greg Starr, Starr Nursery, Tucson, Arizona Special Thanks to Dan Bach, Bach’s Greenhouse Cactus Nursery, Tucson, Arizona Agave photos used by permission Mary Irish and Greg Starr

80 Questions,Comments? Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914 in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, The University of Arizona. The University of Arizona is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities. Persons with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation, such as a sign language interpreter, by contacting DRC (Disability Resource Center) at 621-3268 (V/TTY). Requests should be made as early as possible to allow time to arrange the accommodation. This information has been reviewed by university faculty May 2004

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