This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

September 15, 2013

Choosing an agave that won't take over your yard

Agaves are beautiful, and do well in arid places such as Phoenix and Southern California. But many of them grow way too well. I've seen places where agaves have taken over and gotten out of control. Many of them get huge, with razor sharp ends, and multiply like rabbits. Huge, razor-sharp-ended rabbits!

So before you pick up that innocent-looking agave at Home Depot, beware. Once it turns into a group of deadly monsters on your property, not only will it look terrible, it will cost a lot to remove. And because of my lack of knowledge of these plants, and the fact that I have seen them absolutely take over an area and essentially destroy it, I have resisted planted agaves, until recently.

The one in the photo has been here for many years. It's an Agave Colorata. It is very slow-growing, and produced no "pups" along its edges. It has pupped, but only by sending out a runner. And it has produced two pups in many, many years. Two. That I can handle!

This plant was a gift. And I have since looked at them in nurseries and realized that it was quite a gift. They are expensive! I have purchased a couple more Agave Coloratas, but only little ones. If you have the budget, buy the biggest one you can. They are the closest thing to a piece of sculpture in the garden. They hardly seem to grow at all, and they always look terrific, summer and winter.

Plant yours in full sun and be sure to give additional water. Keep it well away from where people walk, as it does have deadly sharp spikes at the end of the leaves. And, by the way, that gorgeous silver-blue color isn't an illusion in the photo, they really look like that, in fact even better.
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