Showing posts from April, 2024

Holly Krock's organic approach to treating agave mites

Everybody knows what aphids and mealybugs are and what a pest (literally) they can be. But many gardeners, including succulent collectors, have never heard of agave mites. Ignorance is bliss, until something like this shows up on an agave or mangave: Photo © 2023 Ben Faber | The smudges that look like someone dragged a thumb dipped in grease across the leaf surface, and the scar-like lesions, are classic signs of an agave mite infestation. Agave mites, also known as grease mites (appropriate!), are tiny critters in the family  Eriophyidae . Adults are around 1/3 mm long, and their eggs are around 20 microns wide (that's 0.0008 inches). For comparison, a human hair has a thickness of approximately 70 microns, so the eggs of agave mites are 3× smaller. If the infestation is mild, the symptoms may seem purely cosmetic. Why worry, you might wonder, when agaves planted in the ground get all kinds of nicks and dings as a matte

Agave edema is real

On my Santa Barbara trip last week , I bought some plants from Nick Deinhart , including this spectacular Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ × Agave ‘Blue Glow’ cross for my friend Kyle: Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ × Agave ‘Blue Glow’ when I picked it up from Nick Deinhart I loaded my new plants into the car on Friday afternoon when it was about 60°F and sunny. I spent the night in Pismo Beach , less than a mile from the ocean. Overnight, it cooled off to the mid-50s, and it was overcast and somewhat damp when I left on Saturday morning on my drive home. The weather remained cool and overcast for the next hour before the fog lifted and the sun came out. For the remainder of the trip, it was bright and sunny, the temperature climbing into the low 80s by mid-afternoon. I arrived home at around 3 p.m. I had the air conditioning in the car set to 68°F the entire time, except for two quick bathroom breaks when the engine was off, and the air in the car heated up into the 80s. I unloaded the plants right after I g

Tony Krock demo: coring and cutting an agave

When I was in Santa Barbara recently, Tony Krock of Krock Nursery gave me a demonstration of how he cores and cuts agaves for propagation. Both methods may seem radical at first glance, but they’re highly effective in promoting the formation of pups. For professional growers like Tony, this is the fastest way to propagate rare plants for the collector’s market. In fact, it’s the only way for solitary agaves that normally don’t offset at all. I filmed Tony’s demonstration and posted the video on YouTube: The video is 13+ minutes long; I highly recommend you watch it in its entirety if you’re interested in finding out how Tony does it. If you don’t have 13+ minutes to watch the video right now, here are the main steps: Coring For smaller agaves with a fairly narrow center, coring is a better technique than trying to cut the plant in half. Coring is quick and easy: Step 1: Reach all the way down into the center of the plant and snap off the cone of leaves with your hand. Step 2: Usin

Another quick trip to Santa Barbara

I just got back from Santa Barbara, just three months after my previous trip . I gave a talk on mangaves at the Santa Barbara Cactus and Succulent Society (a great club!) and added a few extra days to do some exploring. Here’s a quick overview of what I did and saw. I’ll have more detailed posts in the weeks to come. The motel I stayed at in Santa Barbara, the Lemon Tree Inn , had the kind of succulent-centric landscaping I love: Massive Agave guiengola Hundreds of Agave attenuata , this one right outside my patio I was able to explore Lotusland on my own – a very special experience I won’t soon forget: Japanese Garden at Lotusland Tree ferns Echinopsis flowers Euphorbia ammak Cactus forest outside the main residence Agave grower extraordinaire Tony Krock showed me how he cuts agaves for propagation. As a Succulents and More exclusive, I’ll share a video of his demonstration. Tony Krock with his miniature machete Tony demonstrating how he cuts agaves in half to trigger the productio

Update on Kyle's garden in Sacramento and Tahoe Park Garden Tour

If you’ve been following Succulents and More for a while, you’ve probably seen the garden of my geologist friend Kyle in Sacramento ( here , here , here , and here ). It’s been 10 months since my last post. Kyle is a very active gardener, and things have changed – a lot. There are more rocks and more plants, not just succulents, but also California natives and perennials. Let’s take a look. In the front, Kyle expanded the planting strip by converting more lawn. I joke about the lawn disappearing altogether some day. That isn’t likely to happen because the two trees in the front yard need to be watered; irrigating the lawn also provides water to the trees. Look at the way the echeverias at the front are tucked into the rock Closer to the house, there are a few surprises, including a Leucospermum  'Starlight' and a Japanese maple with burgundy leaves: One thing ties everything together, both in the front yard and in the back: the rocks. Kyle’s garden has more rocks than any other