Meet Vanzie, our new whale’s tongue agave
On Saturday I picked up the newest family member: a whale’s tongue agave named ‘Vanzie’. Actually, ‘Vanzie’ isn’t its real name, it’s the cultivar (Agave ovatifolia ‘Vanzie’). ‘Vanzie’ was selected by renowned plantsman Kelly Griffin for its deeply channeled leaves and subsequently put into tissue culture. After years of waiting, larger specimens are now available.
I had a 6 x 6 ft. area in the backyard to fill and I wanted to start out with a larger plant. Fortunately, Village Nurseries, the wholesaler where I bought many of the plants for our new desert bed, had 15-gallon specimens in stock.
Now the ‘Vanzie’ in the photo above may not look very large, but let me assure you, it’s a monster when you have to handle it. It’s 2 ft. across, and the pot is 18 in. tall.
What a beauty it is!
I was able to drag the pot by myself, but lifting it without help seemed foolish, especially since the spines are sharp. Fortunately, my wife was around to help, bless her long-suffering heart.
Instead of trying to lift or pull the agave out of the nursery pot, I decided to sacrifice the pot and slice it open with box cutter. This allowed me to carefully remove the root ball from the pot and lower it into the planting hole with a high degree of precision.
Here is the space where it went. I actually planted it to the right of the shovel so it’s a little more than 3 ft. from the fence. Agave ovatifolia has the potential to grow to 6 ft. wide by 4 ft. tall. If mine does, it won’t be crammed. (Check out Pam Penick’s Agave ovatifolia nicknamed ‘Moby’; it’s 6’4″ in diameter and 4 ft. tall!)
And here is Vanzie in its new home, between a potted dwarf green-stripe bamboo (Pleioblastus viridistriatus) and a potted ‘Spaghetti Strap’ agave (Agave geminiflora ‘Spaghetti Strap’).
It gets about 2 hours of direct sun from 11:00am to 1:00pm and is in the shade otherwise. That’s a little less sun that it might ideally want, but hailing from elevations of 3,000 to 4,000 ft. in the Sierra Lampazos in northeastern Mexico, Agave ovatifolia definitely appreciates some protection from our afternoon sun—which at an elevation of 17 ft. is very, very hot in the summer.
Agave ovatifolia is hardy to 5°F and tolerates more moisture in the winter than other agaves. If you’re in zone 7b and above and have the room, Agave ovatifolia makes a fantastic landscaping plant.
‘Vanzie’ is our third Agave ovatifolia. We also have a regular Agave ovatifolia as well as a bluish cultivar called ‘Frosty Blue’. The other two get quite a bit more sun than ‘Vanzie’, and it will be interesting to see which will grow faster.