I just planted an agave that looks just like this.
It is Agave angustifolia 'Marginata'. It this is what you have it is an interesting plant.
It pups along the bloom spike! Check out the Dave's page: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/57903/
Agave angustifolia 'Marginata' has spines along the edges of the leaves. A. desmettiana variegata does not. As best as I could tell from GAgirl's pictures, it didn't have the spines. But I could have missed them.
Yes, that's one way to tell them apart. (Though most/many desmettianas do have some small and inoffensive spines, see 7 o'clock in the upright picture above.) The easiest way to tell them apart from a distance is by the shape of the plant. The angustifolias have straight leaves and form a very symmetrical open rosette while desmettianas have wavy leaves and a characteristic urn-like shape.
There are a lot of subtle differences in Agaves.
I was given the name of mine when I got them so I hope it's right. I do believe they do have super small spines along the leaves.
I'm really excited about the angustifolia because of the weird way it procreates.
Many agaves look alike to me, but the ones mentioned so far are pretty distinct. Agave angustifolia as mentioned, has horrifically sharp, black spines along the edges, not to mention straight, nearly flat leaves that end in a very sharp, nasty big black spine... so that one is obviously not this one... and Agave attenuata has very wide leaves that are soft and rubbery, no terminal spine whatsoever (though the spines in that photo above are conveniently missing from the edges of the photo) and the center of that species has a nice tear-drop-shaped confluence where the new leaves are about to unravel from... and lastly this plant in the photo has scalloped edges to the leaves forming a chute (deep curve in cross section), as well as at least one nice curve to the leaf, which neither Agave attenuata or angustifolia have. If you see the three species side by side you will be able to tell the difference... so below I include all three
Agave attenuata, Agave angustifolia and Agave desmetiana, all variegated.
Thank you all for your help. Would it help you if I took more pictures...more closeups and a better one of its shape? I can definately say it is not angustifolia just by its shape compared to the above photos
I had these id before and they were ID as desmetiana...putting them side by side...are they the same?
To my untrained eye, the one on the right seems to have more yellow or lighter green, but that could be there growing environment. The ones on the left are at my house on the coast under a covered porch, but they get afternoon sun...the one on the right is at this house and it is also under a covered porch, but I don't think it gets any direct sun.
your plants are definitely Agave desmetiiana... don't get too wrapped in colors... those can vary a lot among species (I have seen these as non-variegated, dark green, as red in stress, pale in too much hot light and brown (dead).
There is a wealth of information here ~ thanks. I can definitely see the differences as described and truly appreciate the photos Palmbob submitted to compare the posture of each Agave.
This has also validated the ID on mine as A. attenuata. Thank you. Kristi
Here are some Agave desmetiana shots I took (first is in my own garden) showing the different looks this plant can have. All are variegated forms, which are by far the most common forms in cultivation, except the middle one, which is the 'normal' non-variegated form in a botanical garden
I love the Joe Hoak too. It has so many colors in the leaves, cream, yellow, blue, green ... Wow! Here's my A. desmettiana variegated. It gets no sun because it is on the north side next to my house. I had sunburned it numerous times until I moved it to the north side. In the closer picture you can see the sharp points on just the ends of the leaves--they only sharpness on the plant. I like that!
^ They will take full sun here, but should be in the ground and carefully acclimated. The biggest problem with A. desmettiana here is tenderness. A couple hours of 25°F won't kill 'em, but may turn 'em so ugly, you won't want 'em anymore.