Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Succulent Stars

I've been spending a lot of time in my garden, partly to escape the pandemonium associated with our remodel, but also in an effort to manage the garden's explosive growth following the best stretch of rain and moderate temperatures we've had in a long time.  I could probably spend several hours a day for a solid month just cutting back Erigeron karvinskianus and even then might have to start all over again with a fresh round of haircuts as soon as I finished.  I've also spent gobs of time deadheading flowering plants, pulling weeds, and cleaning out ripened bulb foliage.  In the midst of the last exercise, I took time to admire my sleek and always tidy succulents.

This is Aloe labworana, native to Uganda.  I picked it up last August because I loved its wavy shape.  Once I cut back the dead daffodil foliage surrounding it and uncovered the Echium debris that had nearly covered it, I noticed that it'd taken on a pretty red tinge.

This Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' had been nearly smothered by Erigeron karvinskianus (aka Santa Barbara daisy) and was partially hidden behind a tall mass of Gaura lindheimeri.  I purchased the plant in a 4-inch pot about 18 months ago and it's still relatively small but someday it'll be big enough to hold its own in that spot against all comers.

This Agave is sold under a variety of names but now is commonly known as Agave mitis 'Multicolor'.  This is the largest of the 3 I have, given to me as a birthday gift 3 years ago.  It's beefed up dramatically in the past year, presumably in response to the extra rain we received this past winter. 

There are several nice 'Blue Glow' and 'Blue Flame' Agaves here but what dials this vignette up a notch is the mass of Crassula pubescens ssp radicans in full bloom among the Agaves.  The smaller succulent's red foliage nicely echoes the red edges of the 'Blue Glow' Agaves most of the year but the cream-colored flowers light up the bed in early summer.

The same grouping from another angle.  Please ignore the crabgrass I missed during my clean-up.


Some succulents have joined the floral parade.

My Hesperaloe parviflora aren't as exuberant as the plants I saw at last year's Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas but I'm pleased with the statement they make here and I'm hopeful that, in time, my 3 plants will form large clumps.

I fell in love with Oscularia deltoides (aka Lampranthus deltoides) several years ago based on its foliage alone.  Its red stems are covered in icy blue-green leaves.  Like many succulents, it's easily grown here simply by sticking a cutting in soil.  This one is happy trailing down a low stacked stone wall in partial shade.  I have others growing in full sun but in my location they look best with some afternoon shade.

The bloom spikes on the 2 Agave desmettiana growing in my street-side bed formed in October.  The plants were in full bloom in March.  It appears that bulbils are finally forming, although thus far most are well above my head and therefore hard to photograph.  Meanwhile the mother plants' foliage has taken on a pretty reddish color.

The 3 Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' growing on the slope here are also progeny of the 2 plants currently in bloom.  I planted 5 pups in this area (not all visible in this photo) several years ago when I put the original plants in the street-side bed.  They also got a major boost from our winter rains.


Blooms are a mixed bag when the blooming plant is monocarpic, as most Agaves are.  But, if the Agave desmettiana produce a host of baby plants, that'll take the sting out of the loss of the 2 large specimens.  I only hope the bulbils develop fully before those 2 bloom stalks fall into the street.


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

24 comments:

  1. Any excuse to spend longer in the garden is a good one. As always your plantings look great. Try as I might couldn't see any crabgrass in the one photo. Bitter sweet when the agaves bloom but always fun to plant something new or propagate babies.

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    1. I probably honed in on the crabgrass because it's such a persistent pest in that area. I can never get the entire root.

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  2. When you're in the middle of cleaning up spent foliage, flower stalks, and rampant foliage growth, the stable and low-maintenance beauty of Agaves must be especially welcome. They're absolutely glowing right now!

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    1. The agaves are wonderfully low-maintenance, although taking out bloomed out plants will be a new experience for me. these are the first of my agaves to bloom and I hear they can be a challenge to dig out.

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  3. Your Agave desmettiana are gorgeous. I hope you get lots of bulbils. It was hard to tell the size of the Yucca, but it certainly has a beautiful form.

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    1. I was surprised how long it takes for the bulbils to develop. For awhile I thought there weren't going to be any. Then I found an on-line article referencing a 6-month timeline between bloom and bulbils!

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  4. My goodness, your garden is lush this summer. FUN.

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    1. It still doesn't feel much like summer here yet, Lisa. We've been socked in by the marine layer most days, with no clearing until late afternoon. But the forecasters say summer is coming...

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  5. While your whole garden is wonderful, I really love the bed with the 'Blue Glow' agaves. The textures and colors are so pleasing!

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    1. I planted most of the 'Blue Glow' agaves at approximately the same time (before the prices on the plants soared). I have to wonder if they'll all bloom at the same time. That'd be wonderful and sad at the same time.

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  6. Peak performance in your garden right now Kris..good to have it as a distraction from the upheaval indoors.

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    1. It was total chaos here today but the good news is that we've now passed 3 different inspections and the concrete foundation for the kitchen extension is set to be poured tomorrow. A small step with many to follow.

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  7. Your garden has provided you with a lot of work, it sounds like. Yikes! Still, hope the pleasant temperatures last a while longer. Heaven knows, I've loved every moment of the cool, slightly overcast days up here. We even had rain the last couple of days. Your garden looks fantastic! Interesting that the two big Agaves decided to bloom at the same time... I hope you get lots and lots of bulbils out of them before they are done.

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    1. The 2 blooming agaves were both planted from one-gallon pots at the same time and, since they came from the same source, I expect they probably were potted up for sale at the same stage. Lots of viable bulbils will be great, although I may be challenged to find a spot to keep them.

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  8. I really enjoyed the agave coverage, thank you!

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    1. I'm glad to offer a post that's right up your alley, Loree!

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  9. Hesperaloe just seems slow to get going. Yes, to Austin-style blooming! The succulents really hold everything together.

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    1. Last year was the first time I'd gotten any blooms from them and they look a bit better still this year but, yes, they're slow in getting going.

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  10. Your garden looks great! (As usual.) Your mass of Aeoniums, and all the Agaves look clean and happy. Good refuge from construction tumult.

    I've been doing start-of-summer cleanup also--so much more growth this spring than last. Desmetiana gave me hundreds of bulbils. I threw most of them out--just saved the 50 most variegated.

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    1. It'll be interesting to see what I get from the 2 Agave desmettiana. I don't have room to pot up 100s of bulbils but perhaps I can get neighbors to adopt some.

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  11. Looking good. Where did you get the A. labworana? I've had one in a pot for about the same amount of time... it seems to be a slow grower or just unhappy. I should probably follow your example and get it into the ground.

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    1. I found that Aloe at my local Armstrong Garden Center, which surprised me as their buyers usually stick to the most common succulents. I can't say mine has gotten much bigger since I bought it 8 months ago but it has developed a lovely color.

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  12. There's just something about succulents and their symmetry that is so lovely - I only wish more of them were hardy here.

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    1. They're very sculptural plants. The leaf imprints revealed on some agaves as they grow are flat-out fantastic in my book.

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