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Monday, October 24, 2016

My Agave Collection: AGAVE BLOOMS ON THE WAY!

I've been patiently waiting to update everyone on this exciting news - one of my potted agave plants is flowering! I have never seen an agave flowering in a pot, but always hoped I would see mine bloom one day. When I got this plant at the age of 15 years old, I remember envisioning what it would look like in bloom. Now I'm 22 years old and that day is finally here!

For those of you who are not familiar with Agaves, Agave plants are "succulents" loving dry weather and sandy soil. They are desert plants that thrive in places few other plants will - but most are not very cold hardy in the wet Northeastern US. I like to grow agaves in my yard because they remind me of California, southern Europe, and the beaches in the Caribbean, in other words... vacation! I keep mine as potted plants and while my Agave americana and Agave parryi spend much of the year outdoors in their pots (only going inside when temperatures drop below 20F), my Agave desmettiana is more tender and go inside before the first frost of the season. At the end of an Agave's life (which can be anywhere from 10 to 100 years long) they use ALL their energy to make a massive blooming stalk. So the sad news is that I am about to lose my largest Agave, but it will be going out with a big BANG (and I'm sure I'll have lots of baby plants underneath it to carry on its mothers legacy.

I got this Agave desmettiana 6 years ago as a nice sized 3 gallon plant at a local nursery. This past year was actually the first year I repotted it. It's a sharp and heavy plant so I was not excited to repot it, but I got it done and just 2 months after giving it a large pot it decided to start blooming! So now I am the proud owner of a blooming agave plant here in my zone 7 yard in New York City. Yes I cheated a little because it does go inside every year, but I think it is still well deserved after poking myself for 6 years dragging the 100 pound beast inside my house every winter!

Summer 2012

Spring 2016 (repotting)

There is not a lot of detailed information about what to expect when a potted agave is about to bloom so here is my experience! Before the plant bloomed, the leaves got smaller. Once the stalk starts to appear things start to happen very quickly. For my Agave desmettiana, it took about 6 weeks for the stalk to reach its maximum height (about 6 feet tall). Agave desmettiana are small growing compared to many other species which is why they are perfect for growing in pots. The flower stalks on many of the larger agaves easily reach 20 feet tall or more (sometimes 5 or 10 times taller than the rest of the plant) so A. desmettiana is much more manageable in comparison. Oh yeah and if the blooms don't sound cool enough, when the plants mature little new plants called bulbis develop ON THE STALK. Not only does it look cool but it sure beats having to grow plants from seed. I don't think mine will stay healthy enough to mature to its fullest because winter is almost here, but it did get this far!

Agave blooms are VERY attractive to hummingbirds so if you get lucky enough to have yours bloom during hummingbird season you'll see lots of those birds enjoying some lunch!

I'll post an update when these buds open up. We have some cold weather coming this week so I'll be storing it inside my unheated garage during the overnight hours to keep the buds from getting damage.

I hope you enjoyed. Thank you for looking!

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