Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Welcome, × Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’

For some reason, when I hear the word “mangave,” I think of mangrove. The two have nothing to do with each other. Mangroves are swamp trees while mangaves are hybrids between two succulent genera: Agave and Manfreda.

While I’m sure a number of such hybrids exist, many of them are unnamed, like the Agave sobria × Manfreda variegata cross I showed you in Sunday’s rain-related post. The best-known of the named hybrids, × Mangave ‘Bloodspot’, is currently blooming in my front yard.

Which brings me to the other named Mangave that has eluded me for years: × Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’. I’ve come across larger specimens for sale but have never wanted to shell out the $$$. All the small plants I’ve encountered, typically in 4-inch pots, have been anemic-looking and anything but attractive. That’s why I was thrilled to find out that one of my local succulent friends was parting with some of her ‘Macho Mocha’ pups.

This is one of the adult ‘Macho Mocha’ specimens in her front yard:

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It truly is one of the nicest specimens I’ve seen anywhere. It gets quite a bit of direct sun, which brings out the purple spots against the lighter green leaf color.

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According to my friend Robin, this plant should be blooming size in a year or two. ‘Macho Mocha’ is solitary until it blooms; then it forms offsets around the base before it dies. The babies carry on the lineage.

Here’s my pup in a 1-gallon pot:

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I think it’s been in the shade for a while since the spots are quite faint. But after a few weeks in the sun it should look as great Robin’s specimen.

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× Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’ originated from seed which Carl Schoenfeld, the owner of Yucca Do Nursery, took off a Manfreda variegata on a plant expedition to Mexico. Only later did he realize that the seedlings were naturally occurring hybrids between Manfreda variegata and (possibly) a nearby Agave mitis (aka Agave celsii).

‘Macho Mocha’ is a fairly large plant, growing to 4 ft. in width and 2-3 ft. in height. It’s hardy to near 10°F, possibly even hardier if kept dry in the winter. Manfreda variegata, the seed parent, is hardy to 0°F while the reputed pollen parent, Agave mitis, is quite a bit wimpier (20°F or so).

19 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed the blog Loree wrote about your gardens and I love the lemon bamboo in your garden especially lovely

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    1. Thank you so much! I must admit that Asian lemon bamboo is a particular favorite of mine :-).

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    1. If you want one, let me know. Robin has a few others for sale.

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  3. I am so glad it's not just me who hears/thinks/reads mangrove instead of mangave. Your new plant is gorgeous, I held out hope most of the summer that my winter-dead one would return but no such luck.

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    1. Now I'm trying to find the best spot for it. It clearly needs full sun to bring out that purple glow.

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  4. I think of mangoes whenever I read it's name :) your specimen looks fab, wish I could get mine to look like that. Although it's in a reasonably big pot it still struggles, seemingly it prefers a free run. Also slugs and snail seems to absolutely adore them here, I planted one out before but it got eaten away by them. And the one in the pot gets defaced the moment it goes out of the greenhouse.

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    1. LOL. Mangoes, mangroves, I wonder what else people think of?

      Mangaves have pretty fat roots. I agree, I'm sure they'd prefer a free run.

      Slugs? oh no, that's not good news. I've had my battles with slugs, especially during my ill-fated hosta phase, but have never had a problem with succulents. 'Macho Mocha' has very soft leaves, though, kind of like hostas...

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  5. Btw, your friend's specimen looks almost fluorescent from the photos, fabulous!!

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    1. It's the hot California sun that does that, I'm sure!

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  6. You have good plant friends. Which you deserve.

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  7. You have the best specimens that I have ever seen

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    1. The Ruth Bancroft Garden has a pretty nice one, too, near the nursery.

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  8. Glad you found something. It is lovely. I'll have to see it when we get back.

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    1. Maybe I will have found a spot for it by then. I'm thinking of building raised area for it near the bamboo in front of the house.

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  9. I am really surprised at how big these plants get. Nice score!

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    1. I was surprised too! But that makes 'Macho Mocha' even more desirable to me since I can plop it into the ground and it won't get lost.

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  10. Your friend's Macho really does have beautiful coloring. Macho Mocha is more commonly seen in Austin than Bloodspot, although I find they both do very well here. I had a big Macho bloom a few years ago and wrote about the depupping process, if you're interested: http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=3579 . The mother plant actually survived after blooming, but she got a bit ratty, so eventually I replaced her with one of her pups. My biggest Bloodspot did not survive after blooming, however, but I have a couple others. BTW, I have a variegated form of Macho Mocha given to me Scott Ogden, called 'Espresso': http://www.plantdelights.com/xMangave-Espresso-for-sale/Buy-Espresso-Mangave/ . It was hard-hit by last year's deep freeze, but it came back from the roots, though it still struggles. Clearly it's more affected by cold than the standard Macho Mocha.

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