Six Great Agaves for Your Garden, with Kelly Griffin


I’m Debra Lee Baldwin and this is Kelly Griffin a world-renowned expert on growing succulents He’s an agave and aloe hybridizer Kelly is the plant development director, is that correct? Succulent Plant Development Manager At Altman Plants A long title The largest grower of cactus and succulents in the country. We want things that are more garden-friendly which means fewer spines that’s one of the things we’re doing And plants that will stay within bounds. People plant Agave americana in a space and in three or four or five years it’s taken more than its space. Solitary agaves are a good pick Because they stay put. The agaves that Kelly’s about to show you are readily available or soon will be. All are beautiful, low-water, slow to bloom, easy to grow, safer than most to garden around, and seldom produce pups. This is ovatifolia, which means oval foliage. It’s also sometimes called the whale’s tongue. It gets much wider than it gets tall, so you can put it in the foreground in the garden as a centerpiece. The other thing is When something normally gets 4 or 5 feet wide, it usually gets 4 or 5 feet tall. This thing stays about waist-high or smaller. People, you know, are drawn to it But it doesn’t dominate everything behind it. Those plants look like nothing when you buy them in a gallon. People think they’re buying a parryi or something, and they have no idea. So a lot of this is knowledge and working with the material, knowing what ultimately it’s going to do. It’s not easy for even people who are in the landscape business to know this material that’s relatively new, they haven’t experienced what it does. ‘Blue Glow’ has a good look about it. It’s solitary. They planted this many. There are not extra pups coming up here. You put a large agave this close to a walkway, and it will be in the walkway. That thing’s never going to do it. It takes quite a bit of cold because of its Sonoran parentage. It also is fairly long-lived. It’s not one of the early bloomers. They bloom out about maybe 7 to 11 years, depending on how hard their life’s been. Whereas some agaves can bloom out in three or four years. When agaves bloom, it’s a beautiful flower, often, but that’s the swan song. Victoria-reginae looks like a little artichoke. We found it in Mexico over four different states. They don’t get out of bounds. They don’t flower prematurely, so you don’t lose them, and you can have them as least as long as you have a pet. I’ve had this now for, what, ten years. It’s a nice sized plant. They’re slow growing. You can keep it around for a long time and it looks pretty. How large will it get? About the size of a large beach ball. Oh, that big? This particular one. That’s the clone that we want to go with. It’s kind of a rounded leaf, a more open leaf arrangement and the white lines, which you can compare to the other ones I showed you, are easily five times as wide. Titanotas are nice because they’re fairly controlled growth they’re fairly slow. There are 28 different varieties of titanota in my yard. That one that we call ‘Lotus’ is a titanota. This is a variegated titanota, a beautiful creamy yellow variegation on it. The leaf bud as it unfurls leaves the imprint of the previous one on there. This is impressa, wonderful bud imprint, and that’s a really nice clone of it. Is this commercially available? Yeah, it’s in tissue culture at a couple of labs. Easy to grow, coastal areas of California you’d probably be fine. If you’re on the inland valleys where it drops down into the 20s, you’re out of luck. These are selections of guiengola. There’s one, two, thee, and there’s a fourth one back there. And I selected them for difference of color, and difference of leaf margin. This one was released in ISI as ‘Motosierra’ or ‘Chainsaw’. Like a goldfish in a bowl, it’s only going to get as big as you let it. Now, you stick the same plant, the same exact plant, in the ground, give it water and fertilizer, and it can reach its full potential. This is what ‘Chainsaw’ does, that’s what it does when it grows up. It’s a stunning plant and it’s not difficult to grow. This one has these nice wide leaves with this interesting banding pattern on it. And that one’s kind of a real platinum blue. Every one of them’s an individual, they’re like people. I guess you could call them my adopted children. Learn more from Kelly in my videos.

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