Thursday, October 2, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Agave 'Blue Glow'

As I was accumulating photos for this post, it suddenly occurred to me that I might have already featured this week's choice, Agave 'Blue Glow,' as my favorite plant of the week.  It's a plant I've been obsessed with for some time and, by my most recent count, I now have a baker's dozen spread around my garden.  I discovered that, not only have I not featured A. 'Blue Glow,' I've never featured an Agave of any variety in a favorites post.  How can that be?!  I can almost hear Loree, the sponsor of the favorite plants meme, saying "tsk, tsk."

Backlighting shows off this Agave's red and yellow leaf margins (as well as a spider web I didn't see when I was out and about with my camera)



There were no Agaves of any kind in my former garden.  It was too shady and tiny to support their needs.  On the other hand, my current half-acre hot, dry, sunny garden is the perfect place for them.  I inherited two large specimens of Agave attenuata with the house and I've acquired many more Agave of various kinds in the in the 3.75 years we've lived here - I think the current total is well over 30 plants.  Most are still relatively small in size.  None are represented in greater number than A. 'Blue Glow.'  In addition to the plant's obvious good looks and relatively small size at maturity, I was able to find small plants at a reasonable price - for a time.  That changed as their popularity increased; however, I recently picked up 2 more small specimens, grown by Monterey Bay Nursery, at Roger's Gardens in Orange County.

My thanks to Monterey Bay Nursery and Roger's Gardens for enabling my addiction



These plants are generally characterized as slow growers.  I agree that's the case with those in pots but some of those I've planted in the ground have surprised me.  The amount of water they receive seems to make a difference.  Although they have low water needs like all Agave, those that receive ample water on a regular basis have grown faster in my garden than those that receive less water.  At maturity, they can reach 2 feet (60 cm) tall and 3 feet (1 meter) wide.

This specimen, in very dry soil on a miserly drip system, hasn't grown much since it was planted 6 months ago



I've freed all but 2 of my A. 'Blue Glow' from pots.  I may not be able to give them a lot of water but I can at least allow their roots to spread as no winter protection is needed here.  San Marcos Growers says they're hardy to 20-25F (minus 6.7 to minus 3.9C).

This was my first 'Blue Glow' - I doubt I could get this one out of its pot without breaking the pot into pieces



Generally grown in full sun, some sites recommend a little shade in areas where scorching hot temperatures are prevalent.  Most of mine get a touch of shade during some portion of the day.

This specimen was recently sprung from a pot and planted in the side yard, in part in the hope that its terminal spines would deter raccoon visitors but that hasn't worked...



Agave 'Blue Glow' is a hybrid of A. attenuata and A. ocahui, although it doesn't bear an obvious similarity to either on first inspection.  It was bred by Kelly Griffin, who has created many interesting succulent varieties.   You can view a tour of Griffin's own succulent garden, filmed by Debra Lee Baldwin, here:




I look forward to acquiring more Agave in the future but, this week, Agave 'Blue Glow' is my favorite.  Please visit Loree at danger garden to see her current favorite and to find links to other gardeners' top picks.


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

21 comments:

  1. Your comment about the agaves growth rate and water needs resonated with me--so many plants are touted as being suited for xeric, or dry, or even desert conditions, but it doesn't always mean that they wouldn't thrive with more water if they could get it. You know how the grass, Nassella tenuissima is considered a weed/garden escape risk in many dry areas? I think it actually prefers moisture as I find it most abundantly reseeding in the moistest places...not quite what you would think...

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    1. Distinctions between water needs and water preferences might be helpful. As I recall, Pam at Digging also mentioned that her whale's tongue agaves grew more quickly with extra water. Of course, then there are the plants that really don't like extra water - I just killed another Correa when I automated watering in an area that had previously subsisted on haphazard hand-watering.

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  2. Wow! You have so many of this particular variety! It really is a beautiful plant, especially in that shot with the sun shining through the margins. Great choice!

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    1. I admit I've gone a little overboard. I was surprised myself when I counted them up. Because this agave is on the smaller end of the spectrum, I've grouped some of them in clusters of 3 and 5, which accounts for the larger total (at least in part).

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  3. Love my 'Blue Glow' Kris ! Mine is in a container, and easily survived our mid-20's nights last winter. Excellent choice.

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    1. San Marcos Growers offered data on tolerance of temperatures in the 15-20F range, Kathy, although they didn't site the time periods in question. I hope yours continues to do well!

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  4. I'm glad you featured this agave Kris, absolutely love this plant! I have three at the moment and all bought as small plants as they're not that readily available here. Fell in love with it even more when we saw several in Portland.

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    1. I'm glad you were able to find it there!

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  5. Ah 'Blue Glow'...what an agave! It's simply stunning and I applaud your giving it the "fav" treatment. I'm also thrilled to hear you've planted so many of this plant and others, since your garden is perfect for them. I do hope to see it in person one day!

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    1. I hope so too, Loree! (Although I'd prefer that you see it when it's not 1/4 bare dirt with the remaining areas full of holes!)

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  6. I wonder if I should risk 'Blue Glow' I would love to have it but maybe in a pot. I really enjoyed watching the video. Makes me long to go agave shopping.

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    1. I suspect that keeping it in a pot would be safer of you, Jenny. We haven't had temperatures any where near freezing in our time in this house so I can't offer any personal testimonials about hardiness.

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  7. A beautiful agave, and one which I hope to acquire one day. Loads of stunning plants in the video, too. Thanks!

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    1. Maybe your new Gumtree connection can help there, Amy!

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  8. Lovely, I love agaves, you are lucky you can grow them outside, they have to live in pots here.

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    1. I always envy the plants you can grow in the UK but I'm glad I don't have to haul in plants every winter for their own protection, Chloris.

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  9. Blue Glow used to be affordable, not so much now. And they don't pup! The agaves in the video are fantastic, including the varieg Cow Horn. I've obtained impressa from a Huntington sale whose leaves still show no markings. Wonder if Kelly has any open days?

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    1. MDR Garden Center had 'Blue Glow' for $10 at one time, which is one reason I have so many. Last time I was there, they had a few in the same small size for $17 and I was told they don't expect to offer them again at the former rate. OC Succulents in Irvine had A. impressa in a 3 gallon pot on special for $20 at one point.

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  10. I should try some agave here as low temperatures you say they will withstand are the usual ones here (sometimes but lower but I could protect them for the short time it is colder. they are lovely plants.

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    1. You can't beat the sculptural qualities of an agave, Christina. The Texas gardeners grow a lot of them and their winters also get colder than ours so I expect there are some that would do for you.

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  11. I always admire agave in gardens and know if I lived in a warmer climate I would grow them

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