Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mid-winter pup report

I'd like nothing more than to see my agaves in the ground. I know some of them can (thoretically) make it through our Zone 8 Portland winter. But I'm too much of a novice at growing them, and I'm not willing to risk their little spikey lives to the icy Columbia Gorge winds we usually get at least once each winter. So for now, they live in pots that can be carried indoors in autumn.

We have a nice south-facing exposure with a sliding glass door, and even a bit of floor space to accommodate them. But they don't really like being indoors, and they need water and a little cleanup several times during their incarceration. I was doing that yesterday and that's when I discovered the pups. Lots of them.

This is Agave parryi 'Cream Spike'. I knew it was a prolific offsetter, but it surprised even me with its speed this time.

Three pups are already growing alongside the mother that I repotted just this past summer.

The third pup is the largest: it's lodged right beside the mother and is hard to see under her flat leaves.
Agave titanota is jammed into a very narrow pot but that doesn't seem to be hurting it in the pup department.
Wait, maybe I've discovered the secret to inducing self-propagation.

My Agave geminiflora surprised me with a hard to see pup.

Can you spot it leaning out to the left from the mother?

 Agave parryi var. truncata is being taken over by several robust pups.

They seem like small gray-green parasites that could devour the host if they're not removed soon.

There are the tougher agaves I haven't risked outdoors yet either, but I know they are good candidates for wintering over in well-prepared beds. Maybe this summer I'll risk it. These agaves start out offsetting with a bang and are just getting bigger over winter indoors.

Agave bracteosa 'Calamar'

Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost'
Here's Pearl showing us an excellent use of an agave spike (if you're an itchy cat.) This Agave scabra pup survived indoors while its poor mother that I ignorantly planted in the ground several years ago died a slimy winter death. The "pup" is now larger than the mother was.



Which appears to suit Pearl just fine.

18 comments:

  1. That last shot made me smile! Pearl looks so happy. Your Agaves all look so healthy, pupping like crazy. Unlike my poor mushy specimens. I should have started out babying mine, but I threw them out there hoping they would make it. The rest of my tender succulents that I brought in last fall are doing well.

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    1. Alison, I should have confessed I left a few well-established larger agaves outdoors for lack of room. Only our (so far) milder winter is responsible for the fact they haven't died a mushy death...

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  2. What adorable pups...I'm going to take a closer look at mine. I don't like keeping too many things indoors. they always look worse for wear after the winter, so not too many Agaves. The ones I've tried in the ground...MUSH

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    1. Linda, I'm determined to try some in the ground, but need to REALLY prepare the soil. We shall see how it goes...

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  3. And I forgot Pearl most adorable too!

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  4. Oh Pearl girl, you are very sweet and it's kind of you to look after Mom's agaves for her! You're obviously doing a great job keeping them happy for her!

    This is my first winter with a few more agaves doing time indoors for the wnter. How do you know when it's time to water an agave? I've got one that I brought in in November and it was pretty wet. I've not watered it yet and it seems to be fine. I'm worried that if it gets watered it'll rot.

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    1. Outlaw, I generally go by weight and my memory of how sharp the drainage is. I think indoor heat will dry any pot out eventually, but the amount of light they get matters too. If I can get my moisture sensor into the soil, that's a help, but many of the agaves are so packed into the pots that I can't. But I would always err on the side of under-watering, rather than over-watering.

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  5. I think you're right to bring them in. I'm in Tucson now and I moved all my succulents and agaves to a sheltered area and covered them during the recent 4 days of lows in the 20's and highs in the 40's we had. Lost 4 bouganvillea (that we covered) anyway, and did some serious damage to an asparagus fern (also covered), so I'm thinking you can't be too careful - even in the desert... ;)

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    1. Deb, good for you for protecting the agaves and succulents, but sorry to hear you lost bougainvillas. Your weather is sounding more like ours was back in mid-January!

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  6. Replies
    1. What Scott said! Both of you make me want to get a cat. And your pups look great too. :)

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    2. And she plays it to the hilt, Scott.

      Heather, I somehow pictured you as a dog person, but get a cat - or two!

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  7. It's obvious to me that Pearl is in serious love with your Agave. :) Your A. gemnifolia looks so much like my Yucca rostrata, also housed in a pot. I know it's hardy but I'm too scared. Even after two relatively mild winters, (so far, knock on wood) I'm still shy about losing any more babies.

    Your plants look so happy and congratulations on your newborns. :)

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    1. Grace, I would think your Yucca rostrata will be fine if it gets established in the ground over summer. It's interesting how much the Agave geminiflora looks like Y. rostrata, but I'm sure it's not as hardy.

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  8. Besides being terribly cute that Pearl is a brave lady cozying up to a potentially painful spike like that.

    Your babies all look so happy and healthy Jane! I need to do my mid-winter "clean up, inspection, bit of watering" here soon. I've been neglectful.

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  9. I like them in that nice collection of pots. With all of that procreation going on it looks like you will have plenty of material for experimentation. The one Agave pup I separated from its mom three years ago is just now starting to put on some growth (in a pot), so maybe they need a little babying at first. The Aloes seem to be more robust.

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  10. congrats on the babies! you are clearly a much better agave keeper than me.

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