March 13, 2016
Choosing miniature agaves for your garden - Agave potatorum cv Kichijokan
Agaves are wonderful plants for the desert and tropical garden. I have a lot of them here at the Tropical Paradise, like this one, Agave potatorum cv Kichijokan. And if all you know of agaves are those gigantic and deadly "Century Plants", well, it's time to look at miniatures.
Of course, all of these plants are the same size at the garden center. The trick is to learn to recognize miniatures. I am fortunate to have friends who collect agaves, and they have steered me clear of the ones that grow way too big. The trick, unfortunately, is to learn a little bit of Latin. I write stuff down, and take photos. The one in the photo at the top of this post I got at a nursery in the Phoenix, Arizona area, but it wasn't something that I've ever seen at my local Home Depot. And the problem, of course, is that miniatures are so much more expensive than the little versions of plants that will grow to be giants. I really never learned the name of this agave, but I learned to recognize it. If you want one, I recommend that you show this photo to your local nursery that specializes in agaves, I'm sure they'll have it. Don't bother with Home Depot, that's the place to buy petunias!
This plant, which is about a foot across, hasn't really grown much in two years. Yes, it's growing (you can see the new growth in the middle), but it will stay small and compact throughout its lifespan. At some point it will be large miniature (I guess that's like a jumbo shrimp?), but it will not really get much bigger.
Mine is a miniature garden. The plants that I have here will stay small. I wanted a garden that had a jewel-like effect, and that's how you do it. So, if you're thinking of planting agaves, I recommend it. They are also, as you can see, deadly sharp, so plant them well away from where people might get to close them, accidentally.
Oh yeah, plant an agave like this in plenty of sun, but a tiny bit of shade if possible. They don't need any additional water after they're established in the Phoenix area. The only maintenance that I do is to clean the bird poop off of it occasionally with a squirt bottle of plain water.
Posted by Brad Hall