Agaves - Exotic Plants for the Perennial Garden

Agaves - Exotic Plants for the Perennial Garden

By Published December 11, 2013 Updated November 29, 2022

There are a number of beautiful woody lilies that you can incorporate into your gardening area. An agave plant is the perfect choice for those who want a dryland perennial plant with a number of color choices. Colors will range from a dusty blue or green to a beautiful cream or yellow. The actual color of the plant will depend on the specific species and cultivar. Agave plants can grow to 12 feet wide and 6 feet tall for some species, while others may be only a few inches tall and wide. The possibilities are literally endless when you choose to incorporate these plants into your garden.

Agaves are perennial plants whose winter hardiness ranges from planting zone 5 through zone 10. It is important that you choose the right plants for your specific climate to ensure that they thrive when planted. You can also choose to grow an agave plant in a container and display it inside your home or on a deck during the summer months. If you are planning to grow them in the ground, be sure that you plant them in well-draining soil. Most species of the agave plant will give you beautiful displays until they flower…often 10 to 15 years in cultivation. Plant Delights Nursery, Inc. has a number of beautiful agave plants from which you can choose.

Our Favorite Agave

One of the best and most popular clones of agave that we have come across is Agave parryi JC Raulston which was obtained by JC himself during a 1979 trip to Strybing Arboretum in California. This magnificent specimen forms 2' tall x 3' wide rosettes and is well-adapted for wet East Coast winters. When it does finally flower, the 15' tall spike topped with hundreds of yellow flowers will draw hummingbirds from miles around. This agave is a great, low-maintenance succulent that really makes a statement in your berm, raised, or rock garden.

Caring for Your Agave

As with all agaves in our catalog, excellent drainage is key to winter hardiness. Here at Juniper Level, we prefer to place agave on berms composed of a mix of compost, soil, and permatill. Permatill is an industrial bi-product composed of shale that has been super heated to kill any microbes. In addition to adding an interesting look that is different from the traditional triple-shred hardwood mulch, it also drains well and does not hold water like traditional mulch mixes. In colder zones, it is a good idea to plant your agaves early, mid-summer at the latest, since the roots need time to establish. It is also a good idea to plant a small shrub on the north side of your agave where it can help soak up excess moisture without blocking too much mid-day sun. Always plan your site carefully since some agave can reach 12 feet wide. Once established, agave are generally very low maintenance and extremely drought-tolerant.

 

 

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