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

July 25, 2014

Planting agaves bare root

Agaves are pretty tough plants. And like cycads, aloes, etc., they pup. That is, they send offshoots which you can remove and transplant. Today I am preparing two agaves to be planted bare root.

I was fortunate to get these from one of my fellow members of the Arizona Palm and Cycad Association, and I am following his advice.

The first thing to do is to soak them overnight. So as soon as I got them, I put them in a bucket of plain water. Then, this morning, I started to trim them. Be careful! Agaves are sharp! I started by just peeling away the lower leaves, then I trimmed quite a bit away to remove any irregularly-shaped leaves, and also to make it easier for the plant to establish. I trimmed the roots a bit, too, just to make it easier to plant.

The next step is to let them dry off a bit, and then plant them. I've always been a believer in careful soil preparation and planting. You know the old adage *dig a 100-dollar hole for a 50-dollar plant*! Of course, these plants didn't cost me anything, but they are still going to get the VIP treatment when I plant them.

The worst time to plant agaves is when the soil is cold. But it's summer here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, so I have no worries about that! Your main concern is root rot, which will kill the plant before it gets a chance to establish new roots, so plant during warm weather. Yeah, it's gonna be way hot today, but with a little care, and wearing some sunscreen, I will get them into the ground.

Agave bare root planted
The biggest concern when you plant agaves, or any plant that is sharp, is to keep it well away from where people will walk. I've seen razor-sharp agaves planted along sidewalks in my neighborhood, and I gotta tell you, it really bugs me. These are beautiful plants - give them room to grow, don't make them a danger for people walking by! OK, I'm done with my rant.

Before I plant these agaves, I will sprinkle a little rooting hormone powder on the roots. You can get rooting hormone at your local Home Depot, by the way. This not only helps encourage more root growth, it protects the existing roots from rotting.

Then I dig a hole and fill with ordinary potting soil. The trick now is to use your fingers to firm in the soil around the roots. They're bare, remember? You don't want to risk any air pockets. So, push!

OK, time for me to get off the computer, and get to planting!
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