}

November 30, 2011

Dividing a prized Agave

AN AGAVE LOPHANTHA 'QUADRICOLOR' IS READY FOR DIVISION, RESULTING IN MANY NEW PLANTS TO SHARE WITH FRIENDS.
Agave's offer the home gardener so much more than Tequilla, today, many are investments; costly, yes,  but they are true investments, almost guaranteed to perform better than the stock market, and sometimes, they can be just as painful, but in the end, they make dazzling statements that enhance any place in the garden. You don't even need a greenhouse, any home gardener can keep specimens whether you live in an apartment, suburban house or large estate. Agave thrive both indoors in pots on windowsills when small, and then spend the summer outdoors in full sun. In winter, they can return to the brightest window sills or they can spend a slow, dormant winter in cool, dry cellar when they become too large. Ours do very well in our sunny, cold greenhouse, and although expensive, many form offsets ( or pups) that can be removed and potted up to start new plants. When  $35. plant does that, I become very happy.
Dividing an Agave only requires patience, the easiest mistake to make is to divide too early, when the runners are still root free. I like to wait an extra year after the first sign of off-shoots, so that they can form their own roots before I remove them from their mother.

A well rooted division snaps easily off of the mother plant, and is ready to spend life on its own, in its own pot.

NOTICE HOW THE OLDER OFFSETS HASVE MORE ROOTS, WHILE THE ONE ON THE RIGHT HAS ONLY A COUPLE. THE LARGER OFFSETS ARE THREE YEARS OLD, AND THEY SNAP OFF EASILY, SINCE THE UNDERGROUND STEMS ARE BRITTLE.
My five year old plant provided me with six strong divisions, plus a few un-rooted stems that I will pot together in a flat of sand, so that they can form roots, which can take up to another six months. Agave are not fast growers, so the more maturity that you can get on your plantlets, the easier the transition to their own pots will be. 

These underground shoots often will root, but like premature babies, they must be treated carefully, and often need a little intensive care for a period of time before they can catch up to their older brothers and sisters.

Mom gets a fresh batch of soil ( Pro Mix, sand and Soil Perfector by Espoma) and is then upgraded to a nicer pot. She will start to create more babies right away, but will not be repotted and divided for at least three more years. Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' is now more affordable, at $16.00 ( this past year), and you can order one from Plant Delight's Nursery. Their new catalog will be out in early January. Any plant that can live for decades, that can handle full sun and drought, it prime in my book. Not all agave species divide as fast as others, but this cultivar offsets regularly.

Freshly potted up baby Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' on the bench in the greenhouse, ready to be watered in with their first drink. They will be allowed to dry out completely between waterings until new roots form.

7 comments :

  1. I just designed a garden for a friend using a bunch of different Agaves and other succulent plants. I have a whole new appreciation of them since moving to the west coast. So many different species and cultivars. I just wish they weren't so painful to deal with. I stabbed the hell out of myself on an Agave macrantha 'Pablo's Choice'. Beautiful plant but wicked!

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  2. thanks, a very interesting post

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  3. Hi Matt

    Would you please give us your recipe for the agave soil mix? How much pro mix, sand, and soil perfector?

    Also, what type of sand?

    Thanks for the tutorial on splitting off new plants. I tend to rush it and have problems.

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  4. My potting mix is not very scientific, the formula, roughly, is 1/2 ProMix BX, 1/4 Espoma Soil Perfector, a fired-clay gravel-like material), and 1/4 sharp sand ( from Home Depot, a quartz, coarse sand called 'Playground' sand. Basically, I am looking for a gritty, fast draining soil mixture with some organic material. I will add that I have not researched what soil mixture Agave prefer, but since they are desert plants, I am assuming that they prefer a lean mixture. I often use just ProMix with similar results- remember, this is for container culture only. Outdoors, many factors exist, each specific to your own climate.

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  5. Living in Southern California where the water is so very scarce, I have started replacing many of my plants with succulents and agars are among them.

    As a matter of fact, one particular agar has been multiplying so rapidly that I’ve run out of family and friends to who to pass on the new babies.

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  6. That A. lophantha is a particularly beautiful agave. Great post.

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