Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October update: Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ and Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’

As you may remember from an earlier post, one of my Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ (Agave macroacantha × Manfreda maculosa) had gone into flower and the 5x5 ft. Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ by the front door was looking like it would, too.

Time for an update to see how the two of them are doing!

The flower spike on the Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ reached its final height in early September. Since then the flowers have been opening from the bottom to the top. They aren’t the most attractive, but they provide nourishment for the bees. I’ve even seen hummingbirds trying to feed on them.

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Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ on October 10, 2014

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Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ on October 11, 2014; the pot was blown over by strong winds

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Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ flowers on October 11, 2014. Personally, I don’t think the flowers are all that special. But they’re loaded with pollen, and they attract a fair amount of bees and even hummingbirds.

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Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ flowers on October 11, 2014

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The Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ has been very busy since early September. You can follow the emergence of the flower spike in this sequence of photos.

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LEFT: September 10  RIGHT: September 18

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LEFT: September 23  RIGHT: September 25

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LEFT: October 11  RIGHT: October 15

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October 11

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October 15

Today, the flower spike is 7½ feet tall and has a diameter of 3½ inches. The first flowers are now becoming visible.

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October 15. The first flowers are emerging.

It’s very convenient that this agave is right next to the front door. That makes keeping track of its progress very easy!

20 comments:

  1. How tall will that get? I predict some from-the-roof photos in the near future. :)

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    1. I think the Agave desmettiana flower spike is about as tall as it will get. Maybe another half a foot, for a total of 8 feet. Compared to some agaves, it's rather short. What I'm wondering is whether it will go into full flower now or wait until next spring.

      If I weren't afraid of heights, I would have climbed on the roof a long time ago to take pictures. But the slope of our roof is pretty steep.

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  2. I've probably asked this before, so my apologies in advance...does the A. desmettiana produce bulbils? I'm guessing no, since it makes pups so prolifically. And the mangave, is it monocarpic?

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    1. Here's the thing about monocarpism -- it doesn't mean they all implode instantly.
      In the loosest sense, it simply means the apical meristem ceases to grow. That doesn't mean that the plant is incapable of producing axillary or basal growth and may persist.
      The striatae group are good examples of this. Any yucca is a good example of this. There are certainly some Agavaceae that do not offset and when they flower do completely die (the solitary clones of victoria-reginae ssp. victoria reginae (and not the'compacta' forms' which offset prolifically) is a common example.

      So it is a bit complicated and much confusion abounds.

      But if the question is whether bloodspot will continue to exist in some form, then the answer is that there usually tend to be offsets produced after the meristem is exhausted in flowering, and sometimes some amount of the mother plant persists but never grows again. I have even seen photos that appear to suggest renewed growth from the crown of a flowered bloodspot, but these are likely axillary sprouts that are so close in the crown that it is impossible to differentiate.

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    2. Daniel, thank you so much for your detailed reply. I really appreciate it. I will look for offsets from the Bloodspot when it's done blooming. I hope there'll be at least a few.

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  3. They both look spectacular in their own right. Bittersweet thing but whilst they're doing what they're supposed to do it's quite enjoyable seeing their progress :)

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    1. I also look at it at a chance of renewal. Doing something different in the spot where the Agave desmettiana is now.

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  4. A. desmettiana makes loads and loads of bulbils

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    1. I'm already having a hard time finding homes for the pups I've removed, LOL.

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  5. Wow, love that sequence of images. Amazing that a plant has enough energy stored to put out that blast of growth. Love it, thanks for sharing

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    1. It takes a lot of energy to produce such a massive flower spike. No wonder most agaves, including this one, die after flowering.

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  6. I've seen hummingbirds go crazy for those flowers. I think these are some of my favorites in the garden. This one is a bit frost sensitive here in Tucson, but we have some similar varieties that are hardy for our winters.

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    1. I'm always happy when my plants make the hummingbirds happy. I want to have as many of them in my garden as possible.

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  7. An agave in bloom has gotta be one of the most frankly sexy sights in public.

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    1. I agree!! Frankly I'm surprised none of our neighbors has noticed yet, or at least said anything.

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  8. What if you filled your outside border with a solid row of bulbil propagated A. desmettiana? It would be a takeoff on the outside borders at Succulent Gardens that are lined with Blue Flame agaves. I'd drive by every day! LOL Sue

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    1. That sounds like a great idea--for a gardener who is much more disciplined than I am. I would never be able to give up that much space for one type of plant.

      Would be interested in a dozen or two or bulbils when they're ready?

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  9. That plant is huge!!! And how cool that you are getting a bloom. Bad part is when it's done you need to pull it out. But with the info we received at SE you should be in good shape.

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    1. I have three or four pups ready to go if you want them for your new front yard bed!

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