Our annual end-of-summer contest is here, come on down to the Dave's Garden County Fair!

problem bed.

Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

This bed drives me crazy. Nothing thrives in it. I have amended the soil, added rock, don't water much... It gets hot sun later in the day... The plants today (except the potted one) all look yellow and the pepperomia had rotten lower leaves. Do you think adding more rocky substance than soil would help? Actually one plant is thriving... the kalanchoe.

Here is a pic. The bed is sparse because most things end up moved so I can keep them alive.

Thumbnail by kinym
Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

Ok, I just dug up the pepperomia expecting or to be wet around the roots. Nothing.... Dry. Too much late afternoon sun I'm guessing? I can't figure the rotting lower leaves out though....

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Is this the one you were going to ignore until October, when you can (more) safely add to it?

Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

Yes, I tried to ignore it, ha.... I should stick to my plan. Every season though, its been a problem. I guess I'm trying to solve the mystery. Why would a plant in a pot be fine here? But also, the all of the cylindrical opuntia in the pot are leaning to the left.

Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

I also tested out an agave pup (because I had 5 of them) and it's growing.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

It is a hot, sunny area. If you add greenhouse or shade-grown plants to the area now, they will likely die. Add plants in the fall, early spring, or even winter, and they'll have months to slowly acclimate to harsh conditions. My entire property is like your bed. I've lived with it, and overcome it as suggested. I've had plants take 2-3 years to satisfactorily adjust, but you cannot start during late spring or summer.

Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

So they will adjust if given time. That's good news. I should have read up on the little peperomia.

Sun Lakes, AZ(Zone 9a)

Agaves, as you have found out, should do well in such an area. There are all sizes of them you could experiment with.

Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

Yes, It may just have to be a lovely agave colony in the future..

Redwood City, CA

I second the agave recommendation. They should do fine in that location.

Los Angeles, CA(Zone 10a)

I think of peperomias as largely shade plants. GermanStar has done a lot of work testing different agave types (and listing them) to see which ones thrive under punishing hot sun.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

I have indeed, I am fascinated by the subject of Agave sun tolerance. But very few will go from shadehouse to full or even afternoon sun in mid-summer (there are some). I have had my best luck introducing shadehouse plants to brutal landscape conditions in late autumn and winter. But even then, most Agave species wouldn't survive their first summer, though there are plenty of great choices that will. When I get the itch to do some landscaping/gardening in summer, I restrict my nursery visits to those that maintain their stock outside in full sun. That doesn't leave many options in the Phoenix area, though there are several great mid-summer shopping experiences to be had in Tucson.

Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

Which ones have been your most successful?

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

It's a long list, I have 108 different Agave varieties in the ground.

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

That must indeed be a very impressive list. All I can say is that I have at least 108 of the same Agave variety in the ground ;-) . 5 Massive Agave weberi and their offspring and the offspring of their offspring - those plants are pup machines. I used to have 6, but I lost one, last summer the central core of it just fell over one day - some kind of weird rot, no sign of the Agave Snout Weevil. The outer 2-3 rings of massive leafs were fine but an agave without its central core where all the new leafs grow is just a strange sight so I removed all the big leafs. I dug up at least 60 pups of many different sizes from around it, which I have been giving to friends who want them. Most of them are gone now, but earlier this year I noticed that at least another 15 or so new pups have sprung up around the stump which I left in the ground - It would have taken some major digging to get that thing out.
The pups are fun, it makes the plant a bit messy, but it is what they do, and once every so often I dig up a few decent sized ones, stick them in pots and a few weeks later I have some well rooted nice Agave gift plants :-) .
However, having all those Agaves has stopped me from getting any other agaves.
The weberi's have been reasonably sun proof. Most used to be mostly shaded by three big 'Desert Museum' Palo Verdes but we lost two about two summers ago in a big storm and now 3 of them get some pretty significant afternoon sun. They go yellow, but with some extra water in the hotest months, they have been holding up quite well and are looking quite splendid after those recent rains we have been getting. I should take some pictures...

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

I have three A. weberi (not including pups), including two 'Rainer's selection'. The regular A. weberi gets a lot of sun, but is shaded by 2-3 in the afternoon, a situation to which it took three long years to acclimate. The last two summers (especially last summer) it would go ugly as hell for a while with all manner of yellowing/dying lower leaves, but this summer has been a different story, and it's looking good. My other two, like yours, benefit from some proximity to Palo Verde trees.

You should take some pics, mine are just babies, none more than 4' across. A particular A. weberi at a nursery not too far from here is the largest Agave I've ever seen, easily 10' across.

Thumbnail by GermanStar
Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

That is an amazing collection!

Do you have any tequilana? I just posted a problem with that one... I'd love to hear your experience with them if so...

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

I will take some pics, probably this weekend as we have been getting home late and the light is going by then. I am not sure that the weberi's are quite 10 feet across, although the central leafs (oops, I watch too much hockey), leaves, stand close to or a little more than 6 feet tall as I think one or two of them are taller than I am (I will take some pictures with me next to the plants to get a sense of scale), the others being not quite that big. I often see Agave weberi described as a medium to large sized agave, but based on what I have in the front yard, I'd go with large... quite large.
We were in south Spain a few years ago and Webber's and several of the other big wide leaf agaves (like A. americana) were extremely common there, even to quite large size. Another very common import there was Opuntia ficus-indica.
The biggest agave that I can remember to have seen and also have taken photos off is this Agave salmiana at Boyce Thompson Arboretum (in May of 2011). My dad is in the first picture for scale he is just about 6 feet tall. Obviously, it had its flower spike shooting up and that was not quite done growing either (pic 03), I had every intention of going back a week later or so to see what height it would attain, but never made it out there again until the fall.
On the ASU campus they had a couple of really big Agave sisalanas that might challenge that Agave salmiana for size, but they flowered last year and the groundskeepers took them out so quickly that I did not even get to see what they looked like in flower and also no pictures, a shame.

Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest
Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yes, I've seen pics of enormous A. salmiana (8'-10' tall), though they don't seem to get that large here in the Valley, biggest I've seen here is no larger than a good-sized A. americana. The A. weberi I referred to in my prior post was no more than 6' tall, but sprawled much wider. Have you ever noticed how some A. weberi are more upright while others are sprawlers? The more upright examples are generally more attractive, IMO, but the sprawlers are more massive.

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yes, you are right. They can definitely have a very floppy appearance in some cases, while others are very upright. The ones I have in the front yard tend towards floppiness, but I wonder if something like water supply/sunlight can make them change their posture. They look more upright now (more water and more sunlight), but definitely have floppy phases. I actually found a picture of one of them from 3.5 year ago, it has a definite floppy appearance and was still mostly in the shade of the Palo Verdes that right now are coming back (we did not have the stumps removed), but are still very small bushes rather than the huge trees they were when they blew over - I think you will see that the same plant is a lot bigger and more upright in posture now when I get some new pictures this weekend - it has had recent rain and a lot more sun since the picture was taken.

Also attached a picture of the enormous inflorescence the A. weberi puts out, this is again on the ASU campus, that one lasted just long enough for me to get some pictures. While in a way the flowering phase is very sad because it is the end of the plant, the flower spikes are so impressive, I love them.

I actually noticed this evening that a neighbor has a medium-sized A. americana that has the tell tale signs of decay associated with the Agave Snout Weevil, that has me all concerned, even though it would be too late already if they had made it to my yard.

Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest
Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

As promised the pictures of the big Agave weberi's I have in the front yard.
Picture 01 is of me standing between two of them with another in the background. The one of the left is the same Agave as shown in the previous posting just 3.5 years later. Picture 02 is a close up of the plant. It is definitely more upright but the older lower leaves are 'floppy' or as you say sprawling a little more. It also shows a few of the larger pups growing around it, that I have been contemplating removing, but so far have left in place. Under the lower leaves you can simply finds tens of small pups, which I do occasionally remove when I can get to them.
The Agaves are definitely more shady compared to earlier in the year. In picture 01 you can see the big shade providing Palo Verde in on the right, It provides late afternoon (after 3.30-4 PM) shade for most of the front yard), while on the left is the re-growth of the one of the two trees that were blown over now almost two years ago. After the recent rains they have started growing quite fast, I had to do some emergency pruning to keep it under control. Also in the background of picture 01 the large 5ft compass barrel cactus that I transplanted from an acquaintance's yard a few years ago. Got all the permits to do it and then had to find some man power to move it. It was a heavy beast.
Picture 03 shows the largest of the Agaves, it also has the largest pups (4 of them). This one gets the most sun and definitely goes very yellow when it has been dry and hot (you can see some traces of that on the leaves). Also in the picture is my Aloe Hercules which has needed the shade structure since the Palo Verde blew over. The shade structure definitely helps a little bit in shading the agave some. I put the shade structure in at the end of May and intend to remove it at the end of August or so. It is made of PVC pipe and can be completely removed. I am not sure how long I will be able to keep up with raising the height of the structure as the aloe is growing quite fast about 1-2ft per year since I got it, it is well over 7ft tall now, the structure has held up surprisingly well during the many dust storms we have so far this year, but I worry that will change if I have to put on another 4-5ft layer.
Picture 04 is the stump of the aloe I lost to some strange rot last year, as you can see it still has some life as it has a whole bunch of pups around it. The bigger agave next to it is the one pup I originally left in place as a replacement for the plant, it is growing very well.

This message was edited Aug 13, 2012 10:56 AM

Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest
Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Those are some big ol' A. weberi's alright. Nice!

Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

Update, The problem bed is thriving. I finally found happy plants for that much sun. The dyckia, agaves, cactus and aloe all made it through last summer and winter. The desert spoon is new.

Please ignore the big weed, ha!

Thumbnail by kinym
Carmichael, CA(Zone 9b)

A few more pics...

Thumbnail by kinym Thumbnail by kinym

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.