Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My flowering agave is leaking

Leakage is rarely—if ever—a good thing. But that’s exactly what the Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ next to the front door is doing. It sent up an impressive flower spike in the fall and is putting all its energy into flowering.

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In the process, the life force is draining from the leaves.

Spots of rot have appeared in several locations.

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And those spots of rot…

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…are releasing brown liquid that runs down the leaves.

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Fascinating, as Mr. Spock would say.

Some of the flowers towards the top of the flower stalk have opened up, but most still look like this:

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I have a feeling flowering will be a drawn-out process. I want to see it through, all the way to the production of bulbils—live plants emerging from the flowers—but if the mother plant begins to rot in front of my eyes, I don’t think I’ll be able to live with it. Not right next to the front door.

Stay tuned to find out what happens.

16 comments:

  1. This is just terrible. I've never heard of it. I hope it doesn't spread, that would be devastating. I certainly will stay tuned, I'm very curious about this (having lots of agaves growing outside).

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    1. No risk of spreading. It's just the mother plant dying as it's putting all its energy into producing flowers and then bulbils (or seeds).

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  2. Eeewwww. Reminds me of the agaves I lost after our New Year's freeze (half a week with nighttime temps in the mid 20sF, daytime temps in the 30s). The brown liquid running down the leaves :~((( Tequilana, angustifolia... no ooze from the attenuata -- it just sort of melted [weeps].

    Jane, I expect Gerhard will address your concern, but in this case it's just part of the agave's bloom-and-die process -- no threat to the other plants, as far as I know.

    Gerhard, I totally understand your not wanting the worst of that process to play out on your doorstep!

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    1. We had a really mild winter--only one night near 28°F--and January has been very dry except for the fog. I wonder where the rot is coming from and whether it's a normal part of dying for an agave or something else.

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  3. Icky! But of course nothing I haven't seen before (the rot and ooze). Are you at all worried about coming out your front door some morning to see the whole thing pulled out of the ground and laying across the walk?

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    1. Icky, but interesting at the same time. I look at it as a science experiment.

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    1. Yes, the thought of the whole plant falling forward across the walk has occurred to me. If we'd had a wet winter, it might well have happened.

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  5. One of my favorite agaves has sent up its spike and I, too, want to see it through-primarily because this particular agave does not develop pups, but only propagates through seed

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    1. A flowering agave is a sight to see and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it even though it's the end for most agave species.

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  6. Darn, I've been secretly coveting some of those bulbils! Sue

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    1. If I remove it before it produces bulbils, you can have the pups that are still in the ground. There are at least two decent-sized ones (possibly a foot across). I don't know what I'll plant in this spot but it'll be something else. Just to shake things up.

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  7. Yikes, especially that goo can be very sticky and leave a stain on your drive? Hopefully the leaking will stop soon, or what you see now is the worst of it.

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    1. I'm thinking of cutting off the rotting/leaking leaves towards the bottom. That might solve the problem for the time being.

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  8. Did not get goo here--too dry, I guess. Here it took about a year from stalk appearance to dried-out-carcass-500 bulbils-looking-for-a-home.

    I hear from the weatherman you are getting a Pineapple Express storm in the next few days. Try not to gloat, okay? ;^)

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    1. I wonder if the many foggy nights (=dampness) have contributed to this? Other than that, January has been bone dry.

      Yes, the weather folks in the Sacramento area are already salivating. As much a 4 inches expected in the Northern Sacramento Valley. I believe it when I see it.

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