Wednesday, June 29, 2022

My Mangave Collection

I've been planning to inventory my Mangave collection for some time.  A Mangave is a hybrid of a plant with parents from two genera, Manfreda and Agave.  The mix varies, which in turn produces plants that vary in color, form and size.  I last surveyed my plants in June 2019.  At that time I had fourteen Mangaves.  I knew I'd accumulated a lot more since then but even I was surprised by how many I now have.  Every time I thought I'd identified all of them, I'd remember I had others in another spot - and then yet another.  While some of my Mangaves are grouped, there are others scattered seemingly everywhere else.  Even when I stopped counting home-grown pups, I tallied over fifty plants consisting of twenty-eight varieties.  

Before I share my favorites, let me show you some of the spots I've tucked them into.

My very first Mangave, 'Bloodspot', was planted in this north side garden in 2015.  'Lavender Lady' and 'Silver Fox' followed in 2017.  'Purple People Eater' joined the mix in 2019.  My first 'Silver Fox' lost its shape after blooming and I replaced it with a pup from a friend.  At some point, I also added a 'Lavender Lady' pup (still small) and, more recently, a 'Catch a Wave' pup from another friend.

Two Mangave 'Jaguar' found a home in this bed in the front garden in 2019

'Spotty Dotty', acquired in 2018, was moved to this area in the same front garden bed a year or so ago

I replanted this area on the north end of the back garden last year and, among other succulents, planted several Mangaves: 3 'Frosted Elegance', one 'Freckles & Speckles', another 'Lavender Lady', and a 'Blazing Saddles'.  The plant in the green pot is 'Mangave Cowlick'.

I've got Mangaves in pots all over the place.  This group of pots by the back door includes 'Black Magic', Praying Hands', and 'Aztec King'.

3 Mangave 'Pineapple Express' I picked up at my local botanic garden's spring plant sale ended up in a border near the back patio

I recently planted one 'Navajo Princess' and 4 other unlabeled Mangaves that might be 'Red Wing' on the south end of one back border


Many of my favorites are planted in the ground.

This is 'Blazing Saddles'.  I have a second one in a pot.

I have 3 'Frosted Elegance' in one bed and a fourth in a pot.  The one in the pot receives more shade and hasn't developed the pink tinge shown by those in the back garden bed that get more sun.

This is my one and only 'Freckles & Speckles' and I love it (despite the name)

'Jaguar' is vigorous, although I'm constantly fighting the ants that pile up soil around the plant's base, presumably trying to set up one of their honeydew collection sites in collaboration with aphids.  The foliage color of mine has a copper tone I haven't seen in the plant's publicity photos.

This is my largest, most stately 'Lavender Lady'

Without any intentional plan, 'Pineapple Express' has gained a foothold in at least 3 areas of my garden

I've got 2 'Purple People Eater' in the ground and a plant in a pot that lost its label I think is the same variety

I love the colors of 'Spotty Dotty' but I've concerned that her curved leaves and dried out leaf tips, combined with the pink flush, indicate that she's not getting enough water

I have several plants, purchased without labels or labeled (incorrectly I believe) as 'Blazing Saddles' I think may be 'Red Wing'.  The only plant shown here that was actually labeled as 'Red Wing' by a reliable seller is the one in the pot on the upper left.

Several of my favorites are living their best life in pots.

I tried planting 'Bad Hair Day' in the ground but it was not happy.  I have 2 in coordinating pots by the front door.

With its downward curving leaves, I decided 'Crazy Cowlick' was made for a pot

This 'Coffee Jitters' was received as a gift pup from Gerhard of Succulents and More.  It's done well in a pot, although its placement under a hose bib isn't ideal.

I've planted 'Kaleidoscope' in the ground with mixed results.  This one in a pot, a gift from a friend last year, is doing very well, although it may need a larger pot soon.

'Moonglow' is also made for pot culture

I fell in love with 'Night Owl' last year and a birthday gift card from a friend got me over my reluctance to purchase it in a larger size than I usually start with

Gerhard of Succulents and More picked 'Painted Desert' up at a plant sale in Northern California at my request and brought it down this way when he passed through.  After a year or so in a pot I think it's about ready to be planted out in the garden.

There are a host of others I really like but they've yet to grow into their potential.

Those in this category include, clockwise from the upper left: 'Aztec King', 'Mission to Mars', 'Navajo Princess', 'Praying Hands', and the 'Silver Fox' that replaced my original plant.  I saw a mature 'Mission to Mars' in a 3-gallon pot for $50 at my local garden center last week and was oh so tempted but I remain patient.  'Praying Hands' has an unusual form that I fell in love with the first time I saw it but it's a very slow grower.  (You can see it in its mature form here.)


There are a couple more I have mixed feelings about.

'Bloodspot' (left) was my very first Mangave but, with all the pups developing at its base, it needs to be dug up and divided.  'Tooth Fairy' (right) was one of my favorites but I think it wants to be liberated from its pot.

The remaining varieties are still too small to demonstrate their value in the garden.

Clockwise from the upper left: 'Black Magic', 'Catch a Wave', 'Falling Waters', 'My Dog Spot', and Hansara 'Jumping Jack'.  That last draws its parentage from Manfreda, Agave and Polianthes.  All were received as tiny pups and, although 4 of the 5 shown here were planted a year or more ago, they remain very small.  'Falling Waters' needs to go into a pot I think.

I've only lost one variety thus far, 'Snow Leopard'.  I had two plants in the same bed as 'Jaguar' and 'Spotty Dotty'.  The white margins of 'Snow Leopard' rapidly turned pink, looking more like 'Kaleidoscope' and, like 'Kaleidoscope', it didn't like the planting bed in the front garden at all.  It's admittedly a very dry area.  The plants shrank to a sad shadow of their former selves and I removed them.  I saved a small piece of one but whether I can resurrect it to its original form remains to be seen.

That'll have to do for this review.  Maybe I'll revisit my collection in another year or two.  I've already got my eye on another Mangave variety with Agave ovatifolia parentage, 'Permanent Wave', but I've yet to find a source for it.  If you'd like to see other Mangaves, I've got a portfolio of photos showing 52 varieties going on a Pinterest page you can find here.

All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


  1. And they vary in hardiness too! There's not a lot of them zoned to 7 or 8, but I think 'Lavender Lady' is. I brought some small 'Kaleidoscope' to the Oregon coast, and they are slowly pushing out some new leaves. Your collection is looking really good! 'Night Owl' in particular looks like a keeper, but so many others appear to be flourishing.

    1. 'Night Owl' is the only Mangave (so far) that I've been willing to lay out a hefty sum to obtain in a 3-gallon pot rather than waiting for the plant to surface for sale in a smaller size.

  2. Sono molto interessanti! So che molte sono davvero resistenti anche al freddo infatti vengono vendute spesso anche qui! Certo che la tuo collezione è davvero notevole, come i tuoi agapanthus :D

    Ti auguro una buona estate!

    1. Our climates are very different, Gabriel. I don't have to worry about frost (much less snow) so I have a greater range of choices when it comes to succulents. I hope you enjoy the summer season too :)

  3. Wow that is quite a collection! And they look great in your garden. The bed with the green pot in the center of it looks particularly good.

    I've limited Mangaves to just a few. Now that they are all out of pots and in the ground, we are all happier.

    Now this weird--I'm able to comment as myself again. Did someone at google take pity and fix the issue?

    1. Wow, I didn't even notice that change, HB! I see that Eliza, a Wordpress user, is still stuck in the Anonymous category, though, so the ID issue for commentators isn't fully resolved yet.

  4. How fun! You truly are an artist with your plant selection and placement!

    1. Thanks Beth, although you give me more credit than I deserve - I mostly fit these plants in wherever I have open spots. I am trying to expand the overall area allocated to succulents, though, given our drought situation.

  5. Impressive collection, Kris. Those spotted ones are just fabulous! Eliza

    1. Mangaves in general have a LOT of spots, Eliza!

  6. Whoa - that is a LOT of Mangaves....I tried a couple once, but they soon withered away even in my least shady spot. Oh well, I will enjoy yours, instead! I have a plant named Spotty Dotty and Praying Hands as well, but one is a Podophyllum and the other is a Hosta - LOL! I wonder what other names are used for several genera...?

    1. I'm sure there are a LOT of duplicates across genera with respect to cultivar names, Anna. There are 2 'Cousin It(t)'s' that I can think of, although the spelling of "It" varies. One's an Acacia and the other is a Casuarina. With respect to Mangaves, those here generally do better with a little shade ;)

  7. I'm so impressed with your mangave collection. I hadn't realized you had collected so many!

    'Spotty Dotty' does want more water, but it'll perk up in the fall. Mine has a lot of dry leaves right now (it's in full sun).

    I can send you some 'Fiercely Fabulous'. I thought mine had rotted last winter (too much shade, too much rain) but instead it produced tons of pups from the center.

    1. With just 12 inches of rain within the last 2 "water years," I'm surprised all my Mangaves don't have curled leaves! I hope we get more rain come the start of the next water year in October but, with projections that we're looking at yet another La Nina year, that's certainly not guaranteed :( I'd love a 'Fiercely Fabulous' pup but you don't need to go to the trouble of mailing it - surely, you'll be making a trip down this way sometime within the next several months and we can arrange to connect then.

  8. Wow, that's quite the collection, Kris! Your 'Lavender Lady' is an A1 specimen. With so many different potential hybrids, it seems the scope for variation in colour and form is almost endless... and 'Permanent Wave' - wowee! Would love to get my hands on that one!

    Mangaves are relatively unknown and hard to source here is Aus, but I did manage to get some teeny tiny tubestock plants which are growing quickly. Your post is valuable for getting the word out about these awesome plants :)

    1. 'Lavender Lady' is an elegant specimen and, fortunately, readily available here. Walters Gardens, one of the main US breeders, has 'Permanent Wave' flagged as "new" and I've yet to find anyone advertising it for sale. I'm hoping it'll show up within a few months (preferably in a smaller size that doesn't come with an eye-popping price tag or shipping fee).

  9. These plants are living their best lives in your garden Kris! Having given away two of my three 'Lavender Lady' mangaves I am down to just one that's looking okay in a pot. The mangaves that I planted out in the garden have succumbed to the curse of cold and wet, as I feared they would. They're just to soft and fleshy.

    1. I'm sorry to hear that the untimely wet weather you've had turned your Mangaves soggy, Loree. I understand that they like more water on average than Agaves but there's obviously a limit to their thirst.


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