Friday, September 11, 2020

Stand-out Succulents: Agaves and Aloes

Before I put together my last foliage post in August, I assembled a range of photos but, feeling the post would be too long, I held some of those back.  Today I'm trotting out some of the succulent photos I compiled at that time.  Rather than show a broad range of succulents, I've focused on a selection of Agaves  and Aloes I don't often feature.  For lack of a better way to present these, I'm taking them in alphabetical order.

This is Agave angustifolia 'Marginata'.  I picked it up as a small plant a few years ago at a succulent nursery that was going out of business.  It mirrors the Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' planted in the tree stump just behind it.

I planted this Agave macroacantha from a 4-inch pot purchased by mail order two year ago.  It should never get taller than two feet.  I love its dark spines.

I received this Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba' as a pup (with two others) from Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden a few years ago.  Since then it's not only grown but produced pups of its own.

I picked up Agave 'Mr Ripple' as a small plant at a succulent show and sale in 2016.  Thankfully, it's a slow grower as it can get big (3-4 feet tall by 4-6 feet wide), which means that the path I used when taking this shot could become impassable.

I think I originally bought this as Agave celsii but it's now classified as Agave mitis 'Multicolor'.  I have three more of these plants in various sizes, most received as pups from friends. 

This is the smaller of my two whale's tongue Agaves.  I think this one is Agave ovatifolia 'Vanzie' but for some reason I never logged it in the spreadsheet I use to track what I plant.

This is another of my smaller Agaves, Agave potatorum 'Kichiokan', planted in 2016.  I just recently noticed that tiny pup at its base.

I love this Aloe labworana with its spots and teeth but I didn't pick the best placed for it as the Echium candicans 'Star of Madiera' has pushed into its territory this past year

I've picked up a number of hybrid Aloes at my local botanic garden over the past several years.  This one is Aloe striata x maculata.  As both parents are relatively small, I'm trusting that this one won't get larger than 2 feet by 2 feet.

This hybrid Aloe vanbalenii x ferox, on the other hand, may get larger than I'd expected

While this Aloe vanbalenii x striata seems well behaved


One more Agave made the list for the purposes of this post but I'm treating it separately as I recently did some housekeeping of its planting bed. 

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' is very attractive but it's a prolific pupper.  I originally had one plant here.  Then there were three.  When I decided the Aeoniums and Agaves were crowding one another and started cutting the Aeoniums back (a little before I took this shot), I realized there were seven more pups in the mix.

In addition to scaling back the Aeoniums, I pulled the Agave pups, leaving just three plants.  This is the "after" shot.

I transplanted one of the Agave 'Quadricolor' pups in a different bed, gave another to a friend, and potted the remaining five pups and left them on the curb with a sign offering them to neighbors.  They were gone in no time.

It's unpleasant to work outside at the moment so I'm not sure I'll be getting anything done in the garden this weekend.  Not because it's particularly hot - it's actually cooler than was originally forecast (mid-80s rather than low 90s) - but because the air quality is awful.  We've had ash falling at intervals since Monday and there's a vague smokey smell to the air, which makes me mildly nauseous after awhile.  It's not as bad here as it is in Northern California, where the sky has literally turned orange but it's bad enough to keep me inside as much as possible.  And of course the fact that yet another extreme fire season is costing lives and driving people from their homes while some continue to debate the reality of climate change and its impact on people all over the world is beyond depressing.  My husband and I have "bug-out bags" at the ready in the hall closet closest to the front door, which is evidence of the tension we live with.  Those bags aren't new - we've had them on hand for years now.  We even have one for the cat.  And we change out and recharge items in the bags at periodic intervals.  We also have a list of things to pack in the car, prioritized based on how much time we might have to get out in the event of an emergency.  Does that sound extreme to you?  It really isn't.  My husband's parents lost their home to a massive wildfire more than two decades ago and, as recently as last month, my sister-in-law was poised to evacuate a fire in Northern California.  After that fire got within half a mile of her house, the wind shifted and the fire was subsequently contained; however, only days later, smoke drove my niece and her partner from their home.  This is part of the new normal here.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

20 comments:

  1. love the vanbalenii crosses and the striata x maculata (I have one in a large pot) Out of the plants above I think we share a half dozen or more. I've yet to see a "Mr. Ripple" for sale around my parts... some day. That's "nice" of you to give away the lopantha pups to friends and neighbors ;)

    The idea of a "bug out bag" doesn't seem any more extreme than preparing for a earthquake. I've lived in CA my whole life and don't remember a time when the fire season was ever as bad as the last few years. As I sit here looking out the window it looks as if a fog has descended - but of course it's just smoke. No more dramatic orange skies - just a drab yellow gray. I think we have been transported to Beijing somehow.

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    1. I DID include a warning about 'Quadricolor's' pupping proclivities and its spines...My husband and I are also lifetime California residents. Growing up in one of SoCal's inland valleys even back in high school I noticed how much hotter each passing summer seemed to get. Part of that may have been due to concrete paving and structures replacing orange groves, creating a heat sink, but in retrospect I think the beginnings of climate change was evident even then. I hope your air quality improves soon - ours isn't quite a bad but the smoky air has still managed to give me a persistent sore throat.

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  2. Pretty plants, all of them, and their locations complement. Enjoyed your photos.

    Same here, reluctant to go outside. Lungs feel irritated. Yeah, new normal. It ain't an improvement.

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    1. My throat started hurting yesterday and, even with minimal time outside today, it's not 100%. Take care, HB.

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  3. So many different plants most of which I have never seen in real life.

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    1. I had only one succulent at our former house, Lisa. Things have certainly changed! The drought of course played a role there.

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  4. You have a beautiful collection, Kris, and you've planted them with other plants that complement them so well. Agave mitis 'Multicolor' is esp. attractive. When I first started following your blog, all these were so foreign to me. Thanks for increasing my knowledge!

    Living under the threat of fire and smoke must be horrible, I can barely imagine it. I hope the fires stay well away from you and the smoke drifts out to sea!

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    1. Today's weather report indicated that the air wouldn't clear until Monday :( A snippet I heard on the news this morning also suggested that our horrible air will be making its way east toward the Midwest! Boundaries of all kinds are meaningless when it comes to the effects of climate change.

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  5. I always confuse agaves, yucca and aloe, although I have a feeling if I lived in a climate where they were prolific, I would probably have no trouble telling them apart. Your collection is wonderful (and I love that you have a spreadsheet to keep track of everything - so do I!)

    Some lucky neighbours you have - they must keep a keen eye out for when you pot up your "extras"...I know I would!

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    1. My giveaways this year have all disappeared rather quickly, Margaret!

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  6. That's a nice collection, and I will keep my eye out for Agave macroacantha-I'm with you on those spines ! I will say Kris , if I was 20 years younger I would absolutely consider moving out of wildfire land. And you would have to go far-this thing in Oregon is so dreadful, and I hate being cooped up inside because of smoke and ash. And all the people, all the people who have lost everything.

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    1. I dreamed of moving north to Portland or Seattle for many years, Kathy, as both seemed like garden meccas to me. I even had an opportunity to transfer to Portland in one position back in the early 90s but locating a role for my husband commensurate with the one he had down here was a no-go. But then we also discussed a move to Northern California and circumstances prevented that too. And, as it turns out, with climate-related challenges of different kinds emerging all over the country, I'm no longer sure there's a perfect place anywhere.

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  7. I like how you place your plants so that they complement each other.
    I’m sorry that you’re experiencing such horrible air. Between the US and Australia there’s been a great deal of damage to the atmosphere because of fires, and both countries have governments that don’t do much to alleviate the problem. Climate change has really dropped below the radar here since the pandemic began.
    It isn’t strange to have stuff packed for a getaway if you need it. We’ve done it a couple of times and I’m sure they won’t be the last.

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    1. It's so depressing, Jane. Both California's and Oregon's governors have declared the fires climate related. I know California has continued to press climate-related initiatives and I think that's true of the states north of us too but it's VERY difficult to get far when the occupant of the White House is constantly driving in the opposite direction.

      Yesterday, the forecasters said we could expect the smoke to clear beginning Monday but now they're saying it's likely to be with us for most of next week. I did a little work in the garden this morning but the breeze shifted and the smoke poured in with it so I had to take refuge inside.

      Living in a high risk fire area surrounded by fools that periodically set off illegal fireworks, we keep bug-out bags permanently at the ready, refreshing the contents and recharging batteries, etc on a periodic basis.

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  8. A great collection of agaves. I am impressed you know all of their names. Unless labelled I have lots of 'nice' NOIDS. Be careful with the smoke. In 2016 we had horrible smoke from the Fort McMurray. I spent too much time outside and paid the price with horrible respiratory issues all winter. Stay safe and hope things improve soon.

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    1. Oh, there are agaves I can't identify, Elaine. I keep a running spreadsheet on what I plant, which usually helps prod my memory when I draw a blank but, as I list plants by broad areas and periodically miss entries, the spreadsheet isn't perfect. However, as I tend to buy more of the plants I really like, that helps to chisel their names into my brain.

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  9. Love the plants in this post, of course. I do so wish I could grow Agave macroacantha in the ground, those black spikes! (I have a couple in containers)

    I so want to get out and clean up the garden...but since we're in the "very unhealthy" to "hazard" ranges (it alternates) that won't be happening.

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    1. I can sympathize, Loree! While our air quality isn't as bad as yours at the moment, it's bad enough to send us inside - the haze is currently so thick, I can't even see the harbor below us, and that's not due to the marine layer this time. During this pandemic, we've been extolling the fact that working outside has provided a great outlet but now that rug's been pulled out from underneath us.

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  10. I love that first photo! It's been a fantasy of mine to plant up an old tree stump. I like the gentle wavy variegation and patterns on Agave mitis 'Multicolor', and wonder about the odd pup at the foot of Agave Agave potatorum... looks nothing like it's mama.
    Cutting back the Aeonium turned out well. It looks a lot better and the neighbors got lucky.
    A good reminder for all of us along the coast: I should take a look at my own "bug out bag".

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    1. I'd planned to plant that stump for ages but was finally forced to act when I discovered that the resident raccoons were using the cavity as their toilet! I purposely selected that spiky Yucca to keep them at bay; however, they weren't really deterred until the Yucca got larger. They still gravitate to that area even now :(

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