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Hardy Agaves

Hardy Agaves

Have you always wanted to have a landscape of drought-tolerant, stunning plants? September is an ideal time to plant a garden with beautiful Agaves, which are brilliant accents to any landscape, even in colder climates.A sunny location and well-drained soil are the two key requirements. Most varieties of Agaves prefer as much sun as possible but can adapt to a somewhat lower light intensity.

To enhance depth and height to your succulent garden, try these Agaves: Agave Americana, Agave American Variegata, Agave Attenuta. Agaves belong to a group of perennial succulents that originate naturally in southern USA and Mexico. Ranging over 300 species, Agaves create a fascinating addition to a cactus and succulent garden, or can simply stand on its own. Although the physical appearance of Agaves can be intimidating with its sword-shaped leaves, sharp edges and spines on the tips, these plants produce a dramatic atmosphere. In addition, Agaves produce tall flowering stems. For gardeners who desire a slow growing cactus landscape, Agaves will not easily outgrow its living environment; these plants can take from about 5 to 40 years to do so, depending on the species.

The Agave Americana can grow over 6 feet tall with gray glaucus leaves that have re-curved spines. Yellow-green flowers attract hummingbirds, however the “Century Plant” does not bloom until it is a decade or so old (surprisingly, not a century!) The “Century Plant” is drought tolerant and frost resistant to about 20 °F

The “Century Plant” has another interesting version that has a yellow variegation in the middle of the slightly re-curved leaf and only grows 3-4 feet tall and wide. Like the regular “Century Plant,” this species can take full sun and is frost-tolerant. Whether as an individual plant or used with other agaves, the variegated form is hardy and striking.

Lacking the spines that most Agaves possess, the Agave Attenuata has 2 feet leaves, which are soft green or gray green, and are somewhat translucent, with no spines. Originating from Mexico, the Agave Attenuata grows well in full sun to shade and will tolerate seaside conditions. In the spring the Agave Attenuata blossoms into greenish yellow on dense arching spikes 12-24 feet long. It may take up to 10 years to bloom. It can be grown in moist or dry soils (looks best with regular watering) but it will not take frosts below 28 °F.

There are a variety of Agaves that will be versatile enough to be placed in a shady, cool environment or sunny, hot location. Whatever Agave you choose for your home and garden, you will discover the beauty and simplicity of these low-maintenance succulents.

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