Saturday, March 3, 2018

2018: the year of the mangave

Agaves are great the way they are. But do you know what's even cooler? The love children from a hanky-panky between an agave and a manfreda!

Manfredas are succulents with soft, floppy leaves, often with pronounced purple spots. I'm sure you've seen the cultivar with wavy-edged leaves called 'Chocolate Chip' (here). Some species in the genus Manfreda are quite hardy, especially especially Manfreda virginica and Manfreda maculosa, both native to the U.S.

Now imagine combining the best qualities of both genera, manfredas and agaves. The result is bound to be special. As you look at the photos in this post, I'm sure you will agree.

From what I was able to gather, the first recorded cross between a manfreda and agave was from seed legendary plantsman Carl Schoenfeld (the last owner of the now defunct Yucca Do Nursery in Texas) collected in Mexico. The seed came from a Manfreda variegata but the seedlings clearly showed agave traits, most likely from Agave mitis blooming nearby. Yucca Do dubbed this new intergeneric hybrid "mangave" and introduced it in 2004 under the name 'Macho Mocha'. The rest is history, as they say. ×Mangave 'Macho Mocha' has conquered the world—or at least those parts of the world where it's hardy.

×Mangave 'Macho Mocha'

As successful 'Macho Mocha' was, the next mangave to appear on the scene made an even bigger splash: ×Mangave 'Bloodspot'. A hybrid between Agave macroacantha and an unknown Manfreda species, it's said to be of Japanese origin. It showed up in California horticultural circles ca. 2008 and has become wildly popular, not only with agave lovers but also with people who usually prefer soft-leaved succulents.

×Mangave 'Bloodspot'

For years, 'Macho Mocha' and 'Bloodspot' were the only two mangaves in wide circulation. A white-edged sport of 'Macho Mocha' dubbed 'Espresso' was even more beautiful, but for some reason there were never enough plants to go around.

×Mangave 'Espresso' at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Agave expert Greg Starr created his own hybrid from a manfreda and Agave sobria. I was lucky enough to buy a couple from him but he was never able to propagate them on a larger scale.

Greg Starr's unnamed ×Mangave (left). It has flowered since then but it did produce a handful of pups.

Another mangave you sometimes see for sale is ×Mangave 'Jaguar'. According to the Plant Delights website (source of the photo below), it's a hybrid between an unspecified agave and Manfreda guttata. In contrast, Walters Gardens lists 'Jaguar' as a straight manfreda, not a mangave. Whatever it is, Walters Gardens sells two variegated sports of 'Jaguar' that are stunning: 'Carnival' and 'Kaleidoscope'. They're in the list below.

Photo © Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.


While the developments described above were happening, a genius was quietly at work laying the groundwork for a mangave revolution. I see him in a crammed lab stirring bubbling cauldrons while chanting incantations in Latin. But maybe I've watched the Harry Potter movies too many times. Most likely he succeeded through knowledge, skill, determination and sticktoitiveness.

The guy I'm talking about is Hans Hansen. For 15 years he had been the driving force at Shady Oaks Nursery (sadly out of business now, just like Yucca Do). There he created dozens of registered hosta cultivars. For the last 10 years he has been plying his craft at Walters Gardens in Michigan, one of the country's largest plant breeders. 

The first batch of his ×Mangave wizardry came onto the market two years ago. It included the beauties below (all of them in my own garden):

×Mangave 'Moonglow'

×Mangave 'Inkblot'

×Mangave 'Lavender Lady'

×Mangave 'Spotty Dotty'

What's particularly noteworthy about these new varieties is that they have the full marketing muscle of Walters Gardens behind them. I'm certain you've come across the Proven Winners label before. That's one of Walters Gardens brand.

As a result, these new mangaves quickly made their way into the nursery mainstream. They're now being sold at nurseries and garden centers that never carried 'Macho Mocha' or 'Bloodspot'. I bought six different varieties at last year's UC Davis Arboretum plant sales.

As exciting as the first batch of mangaves from Walters Gardens were, the latest introductions promise to be even more spectacular. That's why I'm herewith proclaiming 2018 to be the year of the mangave. If I had my wish, every garden would at least have one mangave by the end of year!

To tempt you, I want to give you a closer look at Hans Hansen's creations:

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

And that's not even all of them! I compiled all the photos and information I could find and created the list below. Walters Gardens has graciously given me permission to use their photos; all of them are © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Bad Hair Day'

Parentage: Agave geminiflora × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 7b
Width × height: 30" × 10"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Blue Dart'

Parentage: Agave macroacantha × Agave shawii × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 22" × 16"


Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Carnival'

Parentage: like 'Kaleidoscope' below a sport of ×Mangave 'Jaguar' (unspecified agave × Manfreda guttata), but with reverse variegation (dark edge, yellow center stripe)
Zone: 8a
Width × height: 24" × 20"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Catch a Wave'

Parentage: Agave pablocarrilloi × Agave colorata × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 30" × 20"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.



×Mangave 'Crazy Cowlick'

Parentage: Agave bovicornuta × Agave pablocarrilloi × unspecified Manfreda hybrid 
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 36" × 20"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Dreadlocks'

Parentage: Agave asperrima × Agave pablocarrilloi × unspecified Manfreda
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 24" × 6"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Electric Cheetah'

Parentage: Agave bovicornuta × unspecified Manfreda
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 24" × 10"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Falling Waters'

Parentage: Agave ovatifolia × unspecified Manfreda
Zone: 7b
Width × height: 30" × 15"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.




×Mangave 'Freckles and Speckles'

Parentage: Agave macroacantha × Agave geminiflora × Agave pablocarrilloi × unspecified Manfreda 
Zone: 10
Width × height: 19" × 8"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.



×Mangave 'Inca Warrior'

Parentage: Agave parryi × Agave ovatifolia × Manfreda jaliscana
Zone: 7b
Width × height: 30" × 15"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.



×Mangave 'Inkblot'

Parentage: Manfreda undulata × Manfreda maculosa × Agave macroacantha
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 20" × 8"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Iron Man'

Parentage: Agave pablocarrilloi × Agave montana × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 8a
Width × height: 36" × 20"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Kaleidoscope'

Parentage: yellow-edged sport of ×Mangave 'Jaguar' (Manfreda guttata hybrid)
Zone: 8a
Width × height: 24" × 20"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'King Cobra'

Parentage: no information
Zone: 8b-9a
Width × height: 34" × 12"




×Mangave 'Lavender Lady'

Parentage: Agave attenuata × ×Mangave 'Bloodspot'
Zone: 10
Width × height: 24" × 12"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Man of Steel'

Parentage: Agave striata × ×Mangave 'Bloodspot'
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 21" × 11"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Mayan Queen'

Parentage: Agave pablocarrilloi × Agave macroacantha × unspecified Manfreda 
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 36" × 15"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Mission to Mars'

Parentage: Agave shawii × Agave ×pseudoferox × unspecified Manfreda
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 48" × 24"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Moonglow'

Parentage: ×Mangave 'Bloodspot' × Manfreda undulata 'Chocolate Chips'
Zone: 8b
Width × height: 12" × 6"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'My Dog Spot'

Parentage: not specified
Zone: 9
Width × height: 16" × 8"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.



×Mangave 'Navajo Princess'

Parentage: Agave montana × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 7b
Width × height: 30" × 12"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.



×Mangave 'Pineapple Express'

Parentage: ×Mangave 'Jaguar' × ×Mangave 'Bloodspot'. 
Zone: 8a
Width × height: 24" × 18"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Purple People Eater'

Parentage: Agave pablocarrilloi × Agave macroacantha × unspecified Manfreda
Zone: 10
Width × height: 24" × 14"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Racing Stripes'

Parentage: Agave lophantha × Agave pablocarrilloi × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 7b
Width × height: 14" × 8"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Red Wing'

Parentage: not specified
Zone: 9
Width × height: 26" × 18"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Silver Fox'

Parentage: Agave pablocarrilloi × Agave macroacantha × unspecified Manfreda
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 22" × 11"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Spotty Dotty'

Parentage: Agave gypsophila × Agave bovicornuta × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 9a
Width × height: 36" × 10"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Tooth Fairy'

Parentage: Agave macroacantha × Agave shawii × unspecified Manfreda
Zone: 10
Width × height: 17" × 12"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


×Mangave 'Whale Tale'

Parentage: Agave ovatifolia × Agave pablocarrilloi × Manfreda maculosa
Zone: 7b
Width × height: 48" × 12"

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.


I find these new mangaves endlessly fascinating. In fact, after writing this post, I'm even more excited. I just bought a ×Mangave 'In ca Warrior', one of the largest and darkest cultivars, and I can't wait to see it grow. I'm sure that over time more of these mangaves will find their way into my garden.


More information:

The Walters Gardens web site has more information about their mangaves.



Availability:

You should be able to find at least some of these varieties in independent garden centers or nurseries. The best online source is Plant Delights Nursery. They carry almost all of them.


Note on Agave pablocarrilloi

Many of these varieties have Agave pablocarrilloi as one of the parents. You may be wondering what that is. In 2013, a group of botanists from Mexico proposed splitting Agave gypsophila into five species: the original Agave gypsophila and four new ones: Agave abisaii, Agave andreae, Agave kristenii and Agave pablocarrilloi. If you're interested, you can read their article here.

The major differences between Agave gypsophila and Agave pablocarrilloi boils down to two things: (1) A. gypsophila typically remains solitary, A. pablocarrilloi suckers. (2) A. gypsophila has a smooth leaf texture, A. pablocarrilloi has a rough leaf texture. Based on this, the plants commonly found in the nursery trade as Agave gypsophila (including the variegated cultivar 'Ivory Curls') are actually Agave pablocarrilloi. I don't think the labeling in nurseries will change anytime soon but, like Plant Delights Nursery, I've decided to use the new name.


20 comments:

  1. Out.Of.Control -- have mercy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shouldn't it be the year of the Womangave?

    Nice plants. I got 'Catch A Wave'. That will have to be enough for a while--no where to put more just at present.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Womangave! Yes!!!!

      I've only seen photos of 'Catch A Wave'. Have you ever blogged about it?

      Delete
  3. O my god Gerhard, you're killing me ! I want every singe one that I don't have--which is any that weren't at UC Davis last fall ! I am saving a special pot for Kaleidoscope.I still have yet to see any of these offered at local garden centers.Thank god for botanical garden plant sales !

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    Replies
    1. Like you, I've never seen these new Walter Gardens introductions in nurseries in Northern California. Taylor Lewis, the nursery manager at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery, told me they'd have new mangaves at the 2018 fall sales.

      Delete
  4. Love all of them...but suddenly there are too many to choose now! I don’t have room for all of them either... Tooth Fairy is on the short list though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having so many to choose from, what a wonderful problem to have!

      Delete
  5. Oh! I have many of these but I hadn't seen King Cobra and Red Wave... Now I will have to find them. I love these plants - so unique and beautiful! Thank you for feeding my obsession...

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    Replies
    1. I see on your blog that you got many of your mangaves from Plant Delights and some at the Huntington. I hope there'll be more local sources this year.

      'Tooth Fairy' looks a lot more like an agave than many other mangaves. Based on your photo, it's a must-have for me now.

      On the other hand, 'Kaleidoscope' takes a lot more after the manfreda side of the family. That's probably why it doesn't look its best at this time of year. Manfredas never look that great for me in the winter.

      Delete
  6. Impressive new hybrids, I can see using many of these in future garden design projects. Thanks for sharing these Gerhard.

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    1. I'm in awe of what Walters Gardens has created. So much variety in size, leaf shape and coloration. In the Bay Area all of these should do spectacularly well.

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  7. These are awesome! Thanks for including the USDA zones. I'm in 8b (Portland, OR Metro) and some of these will work!

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    Replies
    1. Audrey, quite a few of these mangaves should be fine in Portland. Take a look at Danger Garden; Loree has a bunch of them.

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  8. Excellent record of these cool plants. I’m gonna have to do an update post on how my plants are doing, a year later...

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  9. I somehow missed this post until now and perhaps it'd have been better if it'd stayed missed. Just when I finally put my Plant Delights catalog away after taking the position that 3 Mangaves were enough for now, you've gone and fueled my ardor all over again. I keep expecting them to show up in local garden centers but, other than 'Bloodspot', that still hasn't happened.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always glad to be of service, ha ha :-).

      Plant Delights is a terrible temptation, isn't it?

      Delete