Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What have we got here?

About five years ago an online plant seller included a freebie in an order I’d placed. It was labeled Agave parryi and it was a bit of an ugly thing from the beginning—the runt of the litter, you might say. I stuck it in a pot and even though I gave it regular watering, it never transformed from a beast into a beauty. Every winter, it would develop unsightly brown spots—weird, since Agave parryi is very hardy—and dead leaves around the base didn’t make things better. Sure, I could have groomed it better but after a while I gave up on it and relegated it to the “ugly corner” near one of the vegetable beds.

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May 3, 2013

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a strange sight. Something resembling a white asparagus spear was emerging from the center.

“No, it can’t be,” was my first thought.

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May 3, 2013

“It can’t be what I think it is. This agave is at most six years old!”

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May 3, 2013

But the signs were unmistakable.

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May 3, 2013

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May 3, 2013

And sure enough, the asparagus stalk became taller and taller.

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May 6, 2013

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May 6, 2013

Now it’s 3 ft. tall and not showing any signs of slowing down.

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May 11, 2013

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May 11, 2013

My Agave parryi is about to bloom.

Typically, Agave parryi flowers when it’s 15-20 years old—and much bigger than this specimen. The only explanation I have for this unusually early flowering event is that it’s stress-induced.

True to form, my ugly-duckling Agave parryi is producing an ugly-duckling flower spike. It doesn’t much look like the impressive flower spike you can expect from an older plant, more like an alien space worm in full rigor mortis.

Like most agaves, this Agave parryi will die after flowering. But there are two pups to ensure that my ugly corner won’t be empty. Although it’s always possible that the next generation will become beautiful swans and move to a nicer spot in the garden.

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Agave parryi pups

P.S. Am I the only one who has an “ugly corner” for plants I can’t quite give up on?

17 comments:

  1. Yes, I have an ugly corner, but it's right out in the open in front of my A/C unit. I've trained myself to stop looking there. Why are those other two Agaves in the "ugly corner"? They look fine!

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    1. The other two agaves are Agave parryi var. huachucensis and Agave ghiesbrechtii. They looked really bad a year ago but have made it over the hump since then.

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  2. WOW! So exciting to see that...I always enjoy seeing these kinds of blooms. I try to photograph our yucca plants when they start to send up shoots like that. Congratulations on your blossom and the next generation's emergence!

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    1. Thanks, Celia. This is the first blooming agave I've ever had.

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  3. I have an ugly corner, it's my whole garden. How cool is it that your agave is going to bloom!

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    1. Your comment about your whole garden being an ugly corner made me laugh out loud. I feel that way quite frequently :-)

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  4. Wow! I keep thinking someday I'm going to discover that one of my container agaves is going to bloom, I mean the law of averages says it's got to happen eventually...

    Congrats! Even if it is one of the uglies...

    My garden is too small and without a hidden spot for the uglies. They are usually given away, or (the horror) sacrificed to the great mulch pile in the sky.

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    1. I'm actually glad it's this agave that's decided to flower prematurely instead of one of my favorites. Yes, I will admit that in my eyes they're not all equal :-).

      I will also admit that I'm less hesitant to rip out non-succulent plants and toss them. But to get rid of an agave just because it's not perfect, that hurts.

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    2. Agreed, agaves are of a different class! Thankfully I've got a friend who will take every one of my agave cast-offs, this makes me very happy.

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  5. Oh yes I have an ugly corner! But sometimes they just stay mixed in the whole lot until I really look at it and go.....I give up! Dump! But this is the weirdest thing I have ever seen! So strange! Can't wait to see it keep going. Missed you tonight.

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    1. I'll take photos of what happens next. I don't expect the flower spike to get super tall so I should be able to photograph the flowers without needing a ladder.

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  6. Interesting! I do wonder if its not an Agave parryi all along? Hope the pups will turn out to be swans indeed!

    BTW, we have an ugly corner too (we ought to blog about that...)!

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    1. Yes, please blog about your ugly corner. I've yet to see anything about your garden that isn't magnificent :-).

      If this truly is Agave parryi, it might be var. couesii. It has narrower and pointier leaves.

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  7. Congratulations on your agave flower. So exciting. I am still waiting for my first, but will have very mixed feelings when it does finally happen.

    I have an ugly corner as well, although I have also been known to buy plants because they are different.

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    1. In my case, the ugly corner is for plants that are less than pristine but still special enough not to get rid of.

      But "ugly" doesn't necessarily have to be a bad word. First of all, it's totally subjective. Plus, some "ugly" plants are unique and intriguing.

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  8. They say that a true gardener have patience and they can not bear to toss out plants that are still living. You are a true gardener Gerhard. Your patience will pay off. These offsets from the ugly duckling will be your golden geese. Can't wait to see the photo of these next generation.:)

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    1. "True gardener," thank you for calling me that. Others would call me a bleeding heart or a sucker :-).

      Here's to the Golden Geese of the Agave Kingdom!

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