Monday, September 8, 2014

Update: Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ and Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that one of my Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ (Agave macroacantha × Manfreda maculosa) was starting to flower. Since then the flower stalk has grown exponentially. As of this afternoon, it’s exactly 72 inches (183 cm) tall. It looks like the first flowers might open in a few days. I’ll keep you posted.

140907_Mangave_Bloodspot_1

Across the flagstone path from Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ is a large Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’. I measured it today, and it’s 5½ ft. tall and 5 ft. wide (168 x 153 cm).

140807_Agave-desmettiana-Variegata_004

I noticed a while ago that something is up with this agave. Normally, the new leaves that emerge from the center of the rosette are at least as large (typically even slightly larger) that the last set of leaves. In contrast, my plant has been producing ever smaller leaves. You can clearly see this in the photos below.

140907_Agave_desmettiana_Variegata_1

140907_Agave_desmettiana_Variegata_2

What does this mean? In all likelihood, it means that this agave is getting ready to flower. The center cone is going to widen to make room for the flower spike—which, in an Agave desmettiana, can be up to 10 ft. tall.

As with most agaves, flowering is a terminal event. The mother plant will die, but there will be dozens, if not hundreds, of bulbils (tiny live plants) growing on the flower spike. That is in addition to the offsets attached to the base of the mother plant (I removed a dozen of them earlier this year). I’m definitely not worried about suddenly being without an Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’. In fact, I’ll have lots of babies to give away!

8 comments:

  1. Both are beautiful. I don´t know why but I can´t stop looking at that Agave desmentiana. It is stunning.

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    1. I know what you mean. I've loved having this Agave desmettiana right next to the front door for the last five years. I've already planted two offsets in the backyard so it will keep on living through its babies.

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  2. Wow, 5½ ft. tall and 5 ft. wide? I've seen A. americanas that big but an A. desmettiana is another matter. It's a beauty and I look forward to seeing both of them develop.

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    1. I find Agave americana to be a hulking presence. A. desmettiana is much more graceful, and even though it's big, it seems smaller than it is, if that makes any sense.

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  3. Wow, they're both going to be spectacular! Bittersweet affair but hey now that they're blooming it's going to be enjoyable seeing their amazing inflorescence (and the hundreds of bulbils hanging on it with the desmettiana) :)

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    1. I can't wait for the A. desmettiana to bloom. Lots of future photo opportunities!

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  4. You make a fine agave midwife. I had planted mine too close to a walkway, so when it bloomed everyone was relieved to see the 5X5 go. I haven't replanted any more for now. My Bloodspot is in bloom now too, really lovely and in proportion to the size of the plant -- not an overwhelming spectacle like with agaves!

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    1. What is it with 'Bloodspot'? We both must have plants that came from the same tissue culture generation and therefore are blooming at the same time. I do agree with you on the flower spike; it's not grotesquely huge like you see in some agaves.

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