My plant purchases from my Arizona trip arrived today. The box I’d shipped from Scottsdale last Friday arrived more or less intact, but it didn’t seem quite as full.
This is what the inside looked like:
I was very surprised since I’d filled the entire box with packing peanuts. Now it looked like a 3-inch layer was missing. Could the peanuts have settled that much?
“Shrunk” is more like it. The only thing I’d been able to find at Staples in Phoenix were “environmentally responsible” packing peanuts made from corn starch. Clearly they didn’t hold their shape all that well.
I’m all for biodegradable products but traditional Styrofoam peanuts would have been much better.
I must admit, though, that the green peanuts added a festive touch, especially to the Yucca queretaroensis I’d bought from Greg Starr.
I didn’t do a very good packing job since most plants lost at least some of their soil.
Agave bovicornuta × Agave colorata
Echinocereus octacanthus (apparently an invalid synonym for Echinocereus coccineus var. coccineus)
This Agave mckelveyana lost most of its soil. I might as well have shipped it bare-root!
But in spite of their rough journey, I’m confident that all plants will make it. They don’t look bad at all, cleaned up, with fresh soil and/or in new pots!
The cactus in the next photo came from Desert Survivors Nursery in Tucson…
…all other plants I bought from Greg Starr.
CLOCKWISE STARTING CENTER LEFT: Agave bovicornuta × Agave colorata, Manfreda sp. × Agave sobria, Dudleya saxosa ssp. collomiae, Agave victoria-reginae, Yucca queretaroensis, Agave pelona, Agave mckelveyana, Agave parviflora
BACK LEFT: Yucca queretaroensis, Agave bovicornuta × Agave colorata
FRONT LEFT: Agave victoria-reginae, MIDDLE: Dudleya saxosa ssp. collomiae, RIGHT: Manfreda sp. × Agave sobria
CLOCKWISE STARTING FRONT LEFT: Manfreda sp. × Agave sobria, Dudleya saxosa ssp. collomiae, Agave victoria-reginae, Yucca queretaroensis, Agave pelona, Agave Mckelveyana, Agave parviflora, Agave bovicornuta × Agave colorata
CLOCKWISE STARTING CENTER LEFT: Agave bovicornuta × Agave colorata, Manfreda sp. × Agave sobria, Dudleya saxosa ssp. collomiae, Agave victoria-reginae, Yucca queretaroensis, Agave pelona, Agave Mckelveyana, Agave parviflora
FRONT LEFT: Agave parviflora, MIDDLE: Agave Mckelveyana, RIGHT: Agave pelona
Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoria-reginae) is a crowd pleaser, and I have a soft spot in my heart for it as well. I already have a couple, but I couldn’t resist the beauty you see in the next photo. It has much more striking white markings than most Queen Victoria agaves. Greg had a whole batch of superior specimens, and I wish I’d bought a few more.
I’ll write more about my new purchases as I plant them out next spring. In the meantime, here’s some quick info:
- Agave bovicornuta × Agave colorata: This is a hybrid grown by Greg. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has several planted out (check this beauty!), but they came from a different supplier and batch. I know it’s too early to tell what it will look like as an adult, but my specimen isn’t as blue, i.e. it seems to be taking more after Agave bovicornuta.
- Agave mckelveyana: This small agave from the mountains of northwestern Arizona is rarely seen in cultivation. Greg Starr recommended it, and I agree that it deserves to be planted more. This is a nice photo of a larger plant.
- Agave parviflora: This dwarf species comes from southern Arizona and is hardy to 5°F. Each rosette is only about 5 inches across but Agave parviflora offsets freely and forms dense colonies. I like the white markings and filaments.
- Agave pelona: This Sonoran Desert native is another species rarely found in landscaping. I didn’t know how nice it can be until I saw the beautiful specimens at the Desert Botanical Garden.
- Agave victoria-reginae: This one needs no introduction. It’s easily one of the most attractive agaves. Small (to 1 ft. across) and perfectly symmetrical. A mass planting of these is unforgettable.
- Dudleya saxosa ssp. collomiae: When I told Greg Starr I had problems growing dudleyas because of our summer heat, he suggested I try this desert species. Native to the Mojave Desert where it grows on rock faces in very little soil, it is much tougher than the species native to the coastal ranges of Alta and Baja California. Hardy to 20°F. I’ll report next fall how it handled our hot summer.
- Echinocereus octacanthus: The label on this claret cup cactus said “Echinocereus octacanthus, Texas.” Echinocereus octacanthus appears to be a synonym of Echinocereus coccineus or Echinocereus triglochidiatus, both very common but much spinier than the specimen I bought. I guess I need to wait for it to flower before I can tell what it really is.
- Manfreda sp. × Agave sobria: I was thrilled to find this mangave in Greg’s collection. It looks similar to Mangave ‘Bloodspot’, a hybrid between Agave macroacantha and Manfreda maculosa. The plant I bought is very small so it’s too early to tell what its final form and coloration might be, but another attractive mangave would excite a lot of collectors.
- Yucca queretaroensis: This is a relatively recently described yucca species (1989) from Central Mexico that is still quite rare. It’s an upright species to 12 ft. tall that resembles Yucca linearifolia but has a heavier trunk. Here’s a nice photo of a smaller plant and here is a grove of mature specimens in Mexico. I think Yucca queretaroensis will be very popular once it becomes more widely available.