Cleaning up the base...

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

...of a 6'+ A. americana. I'm close to halfway done, the side I completed had the largest pups (some with 3'+ leaves), but also the most accessible. I might have guessed 30 pups before I started, now it's clear that number is closer to 100. Lots of blood spilled over this. I'm about three or four hours in so far.... No before shots, just front and back. Pics don't really do the difference justice, I like the clean look so much better...

This message was edited Oct 6, 2012 8:55 PM

Thumbnail by GermanStar Thumbnail by GermanStar Thumbnail by GermanStar Thumbnail by GermanStar
Valley of the Sun, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yes, it does look better.
What did you do with all the pups?

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks, they're in the garbage. Most of the large pups had to be hacked to pieces in order to get them out. I've given away at least 20 A. americana pups this year (along with lots of other Agave pups -- all are free for the asking to any in the neighborhood to promote the local proliferation of Agaves), and have disposed of at least that many that nobody wanted from another large A. americana (2+ y/o pup is now nearly 5' tall), Most of the large pups were basal with only rudimentary root systems, so they were drawing huge amounts of resources directly from the mother plant. As such, they wouldn't have been good fodder to start as separate plants anyways.

Valley of the Sun, AZ(Zone 9b)

I lost my A. americana... http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/308208/
To the Agave Snout Weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus)
http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/showimage/11951/
http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/showimage/11950/

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

That sucks. I have something like 170 Agaves in the ground and haven't lost one to weevils yet, though I do see afflicted plants in the area. I am diligent about my preventive treatment regimen, though I oft wonder if the Spring-only treatments are up to the task. Fingers crossed.

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

They are rare around here but definitely present, judging by the wilted remains they leave behind (all americanas). Never actually seen one myself. Hoping it stays that way. The aloe mite is much more common locally (though I'm pretty sure I'll never see one of those).

That agave is looking great after the delivery. That reminds me, it's depupping time in the garden here, before the winter rains kick in. Not my favorite task. There's a public garden down the street with plenty of space for succulents, so that's where most of them go these days, usually after spending a few months in a container for good measure. Except for the americanas, which go direct to the compost at this point, in the interests of preserving species diversity.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Sounds like a plan. Plain Jane americanas would take over the world if we let 'em.

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

One of my A. weberi plants got attacked by the snout weevil after a neighbor lost two of his A. americanas to them, but I also do a preventative treatment in the spring and the agave survived. It had a hole really high up in the central growth spike and an exit hole much lower - I ran a bunch of filtered water through it. I found a couple of dead weevils near the hole. Gave all the agaves an extra treatment that year. In the spring I now do inspections every 3-4 days, but since I leave the plants very messy I am not sure my inspections will help much unless the point of attack is obvious.

I have unfortunately lost two the big A. weberis to crown and root rot. One last year and another this year. Last year's had close to 90 or so pups, mainly distributed them among friends and neighbors, but am still stuck with 20 or so. I have not actually harvested the pups from this year's loss. Both had one large pup that will be the replacement plant. The good thing is that they grow quickly.

Redwood City, CA

I plant my agaves very high above ground level (approx 4-5 inches) which I find makes pup removal much easier. I also like the clean look of solitary speciemns rather than being crowded at the base.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

I do two imidacloprid drenches in Spring, one in March, then in May, per the DBG regimen. It's a pretty big job, with all the plants I have. When I see weevil damage in the neighborhood, I ring doorbells, and implore owners to dispose of the plant and poison the hole. @Crown rot, might you have a leaking underground drip line in the area?

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Quote from Illig1 :
I plant my agaves very high above ground level (approx 4-5 inches) which I find makes pup removal much easier. I also like the clean look of solitary speciemns rather than being crowded at the base.


Yeah, this one really got away from me, never again. 100 pups, including several basal pups with 3'-4' leaves. That's why the main plant is so sparsely foliated. It should look a lot better by this time next year, that is if it doesn't bolt, which I'd also be fine with. It's 80% clean now, one more good run at it should do the trick. Then I'll clean up the base as best I can with a saw and loppers.

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

'@Crown rot, might you have a leaking underground drip line in the area?'

That was the cause of the first lost A. weberi last year. We had someone do some work on a faucet in the house and while looking for the main water shut-off valve - which our place apparently does not have, he had inadvertently opened the main valve to the old defunct irrigation system, which would have been OK if one of the valves down line had not been broken which leaked for 2 weeks - not enough for me to immediately notice, but enough to completely drench the area where that Agave was growing. This year's lost Agave? Not sure, the old irrigation system has been shut off, maybe just unlucky with all the rain we got in August. I have added another treatment to the list though for the remaining big plants.
It also looks like I might have one that is ready to bolt.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

That's a shame. I have an active drip system here and can tell you that leaks are often very difficult to discern. If the main line is deep enough you won't hear it and you may or may not see puddling after it's been running for 90 minutes or so. You would have had to received a great deal more rain than we to harm an old established Agave like that, hard to imagine...

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Done! All that's left is cleaning up what's left.

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

That plant looks great! Made me put cleaning the remaining big agaves I have on the list. The list is long though.

I agree that it seems hard to believe that the rain would have caused it to get the crown and root rot. Especially since that agave was on a raised little hill. Maybe I need to go and see if I can figure out where the old irrigation system runs and try and get rid of it, but from digging holes for planting some large cacti, I know that the main lines are buried pretty deep, so that would not be a fun job.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks, it took 5-6 hours to get that done, and I'm wearing cuts and scrapes and bruises beyond counting. Does A. weberi produce basal pups (never seen one on mine) or are all on runners? It was the basal pups that made this so difficult, that and the marginal spines, of course. Anyway, if there are no basal pups, it should be an easier job, and with subdued marginal spines I'm sure it will spill less blood.

I think you'll need to turn the drip on to have a chance of finding the line, and you should do so at night when it's really quiet outside. Even that may not help... I've gotten into the habit of running my system in the evening for just that reason. After it's on for sixty minutes or so, I can go outside with my lantern and check for leaks. They're more difficult to discern in the heat and noise of the day.

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

I am pretty sure it has basal pups based on the one that I lost last year. I cut all the big leaves off to get to all the pups, and found a lot of pups coming right out of the base - as you noted those do not root very well, but those were mostly small. The mother plant was the smallest of the 6 large A. weberi that I had, it had one big pup on a runner, which I left in the ground because it seemed a good replacement plant and it is doing great. I left the big stump because I could not tackle it by myself and never got around to dealing with it, maybe not surprisingly, it produced another 30-40 pups or so, about half of them straight from the base. The stump itself still has some of the outer leaf stumps looking pretty green and alive, but its growth core is truly gone. So at some point I will have to tackle the stump.

You are right about the smaller marginal spines, but it also makes it easier to forget that they are there and still get pretty serious cuts. I wear a long sleeve shirt and heavy leather welding gloves, which provide decent protection. Last year I did manage to get myself impaled on one of the leaf end spines, 1.5" long and super sharp, in my thigh, that was very bloody. I have started snipping those spines off the lower leaves that lean outward since then, I would not want to get one of those in my eye.

I will have to try your advice on trying to locate the leak in the drip system.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Ouch. A. americana and A. weberi both have wicked terminal spines, no doubt. A. americana are thicker and stronger, but A. weberi spines are far more likely to break off under your skin, which is what I hate the most! My most dangerous plant is Yucca aloifolia, near my back water faucet. That is the only plant I nip the spines on. I just cut the end of the spines off, effectively blunting them. Pair of kitchen scissors works great.

This message was edited Oct 10, 2012 8:22 PM

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Since you're fond of A. weberi, here are all of mine. The first is my second largest Agave, and may have overtaken the big A. americana by this time next year. The next two are A. weberi 'Rainer's selection'; they were nearly identical seven months ago, when I pulled one from the planter box and stuck it out in the sun. At two years old, the one in the box is 4' across and clearly destined to become a problem. The final entry is one of my most prized plants; it's healthy and robust, but cannot begin to keep pace with the others. I got lucky and picked it up for $20 at a local nursery, they typically go for pretty big $$$ on eBay. It will offset, but only sporadically, I'm still waiting for its first born. ;-)

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

Very nice. I have been informed that the big A. weberi's in my front yard are all grand parents by now. Pups that I took out and gave away have produced more pups... :)

I actually have a few other Agaves. One tiny americana that looks like it survived its first summer but has not shown much sign of growth. I also have about 6 A. vilmorinianas that I got as bulbils from a flowering spike about three years ago, they are finally getting large enough that I am not constantly worrying about their survival, and then I have one that I have not identified yet. It has the thin straight leaves, it is in a pot and probably is about 3-4 feet tall. It looks like it would be capable to grow much bigger if I planted it. I got it from friends that moved away. I need to sit down with the agave book and identify it, just have had no time yet.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

If you post a pic, I could more than likely identify your stranger. Am I correct in assuming you don't water these guys much? I planted a little 10" A. americana pup 30 months ago (spawn of the plant in the OP), and it's more than 4' tall now. And A. vilmoriniana is a notoriously fast grower, occasionally bolting at the ripe old age of 4 years.

This message was edited Oct 13, 2012 2:32 PM

Arlington, TX

I am amazed by the idea you have over 170 agaves! I wish I had the room for even more than a few at my place.
C

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

It's a sickness, they're everywhere. You aren't wasting valuable space on a lawn, are you? ;-)

Arlington, TX

Well in the front yard, yes but I don't live alone...
My beds are not designed for succulents so I have limited areas in the backyard.
C

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

These shots are about a year old (there is more now), but you'll get the idea....

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

Quote from GermanStar :
If you post a pic, I could more than likely identify your stranger. Am I correct in assuming you don't water these guys much? I planted a little 10" A. americana pup 30 months ago (spawn of the plant in the OP), and it's more than 4' tall now. And A. vilmoriniana is a notoriously fast grower, occasionally bolting at the ripe old age of 4 years.

This message was edited Oct 13, 2012 2:32 PM


The A. americana probably did not get as much water as it could. I water the A. vilmorinianas regularly, but they might have been very close to too small when I got them, ASU has beautiful Agaves all over campus, but the groundskeepers take away any that have flowered so quickly that I did not want to risk waiting for the bulbils to grow any larger so they barely had a second ring of leaves when I got them. This summer they removed a really large A. sisalana that had not even finished blooming yet, which is quite a waste imo.

I will take a picture and post it when I can.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Look familiar? These guys rooted and tripled in size over the course of nine days. Bulbils are awesome!

Thumbnail by GermanStar
Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yep exactly the same looking. Mine did not grow that quickly. I will increase the amount of water I am giving them and see if that makes a difference.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Well, they should be kept evenly moist for the first couple weeks or so, then slowly scaled back as root systems develop. My experience with bulbils suggests they tend to grow at a wildly accelerated rate (when compared to seeds or pups) for several weeks before their bulbil mojo runs out.

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

GermanStar - love your garden!
I have over a dozen different Agaves and I agree, it's a sickness.
I feel for your "pup removal" problem. I haven't ever had one have that many at one time however my Agave tequiliana needs serious "pup removal".
They are growing sooo fast too.
It bloomed earlier this year and now it has become a clump around the partially removed dead one and they aren't very tidy looking.
Here is some of my Agaves.

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

Very nice! I like the look of that little hillside a lot. Good luck with your Tequila farm! Because of the long, narrow leaves and floppy growth habit, I think A. tequilana looks better in small clumps than as single specimens. I'm sure you'll sort it out and make it work.

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

Hi GermanStar,

Here is the picture of the unknown agave that I inherited from some friends. In my copy of Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants by Mary and Gary Irish, I think the closest resemblance in picture and description is A. sisalana. It has no teeth, fairly flat very upright leaves and a significant terminal spine, that is not quite as big as the terminal spine on A. weberi of the same size that grow in the front yard. And the leaves are distinctly green as opposed to the bluish green of many agaves.
I also have the 'Agaves of continental North America' by Howard Scott Gentry, but that books is more for when you know what the plant is...

I would like to plant it, but the only place I have available for something that might get as big as an A. sisalana is in the full sun, and while it should be able to take this, my friends had it in close to full shade, so I am trying to go slow with it, right now it gets morning sun, and I am about to move to pot to an area that gets morning to mid afternoon sun.

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

That is most assuredly A. sisalana. It will take full sun, once accustomed, but it's really very tender. Even last winter, mild as it was, one of mine was badly damaged in December during a brief cold snap that also did some very minor damages to a couple of ssp. of A. vivipara. The upshot is that they grow so fast, the plant looked good again by mid-June. My advice is reliant upon just where you are in Mesa. If you're near Tempe or Sky Harbor (the warmer parts of Mesa), you might try it out in the open, though I'd wait a month before doing so with a plant that isn't well acclimated to sun. If you are elsewhere in Mesa, I'd try to find it a spot under a tree, not for protection from sun, but rather cold. You can get a good 3- 5 bump from the right spot under the right tree, and that might make the difference to a 28F tender plant, depending on where you are.

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Germanstar - my tequilana isn't floppy at all, goes to show how a different environment effects agaves. I'm in a very moderate weather area, just doesn't get real hot here and most of my Agaves get regular garden water as they are mixed with other plants.
mcvansoest - nice plant and no teeth, that's a plus. I just got a real good finger cut from a dasylirion, I swear it was like running my finger along a saw blade.
No more gloves with holes in them for me, LOL.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

Are you certain about the A. tequilana ID? I'm more than a little surprised to hear a report of what many consider a Zone 10a plant not only growing, but actually surviving to maturity in Zone 8b. All the A. tequilana I've seen here have long narrow leaves, upright, but very flexible (as opposed to the dangerously stiff leaves of A. sisalana).

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

GermanStar - I am almost in Tempe (In the Dobson Ranch area of Mesa), last winter it never really got below 32F, maybe one night it got down to 30-31F, but the year before there were three spells when it got into the lower-mid 20s..... it really hit the Tecomas and Bougainvilleas hard, but all plants came back.
I have a large collection of old moving blankets and sheets that I use to cover plants with as I also have some aloes in the ground that are quite frost tender and I move anything in pots that I know is frost tender under the porch along the wall of the house. Covering all the plants is a bit of a chore and it makes me not want to leave on any long trips out of town during the 'cold' months, but as you say it does not get cold at night very often here.

I will have to think about a spot for the A. sisalana a while longer, the full sun spot I have available also has W and NW exposure which is usually where the cold winds come from when it gets really cold, probably not a good place... In the back yard I have a 20 x 20' area that used to have grass, which is now bare and which I have been meaning to turn into half patio/half raised cactus/succulents beds, maybe I shall wait with planting the A. sisalana till that is finished, but since I still need to start on it, it might be while ;-) . However, there will be an area that will be partially under the very large (2 stories tall) lemon tree that grows in the corner of the back yard, which should provide some protection.

Domehomedee - For dealing with the really sharp edged plants I use thick leather welding gloves. You have to give up some dexterity, but they protect your hands and lower arms from just those cuts like you talk about. Cactus spines still get through, so for cacti I use either tongs or balled up news paper whatever is most appropriate.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

I have some plants to cover for cold protection as well, but don't count A. sisalana among them -- they're just too large. I've seen 'em 6' - 8' across and 4' - 5' tall. In the long run, they have to manage on their own. Winter before last, we were down in the high teens one night. Needless to say, I have no long term plans for my A. sisalana, I figure we'll be lucky if they make it through another winter, and already have some replacements in mind if they don't.

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

I know what you mean, I have a 7-8' tall Aloe hercules that I could still cover (with a large shower curtain that I pulled together with some rope at the bottom of the crown) when it was 3-6' tall (I got it when it was around 3' tall), but now if it gets cold it will be fingers crossed and hope for the best. A plant that I just had to have, but when it got established and started putting on 1-2' of growth a year, I realized quickly that at some point it would have to survive by itself. It is supposed to be frost hardier that A. dichotoma, but that still does not make it hardy. And of course since the tree it was partially under got blown over, it also gets too much sun in the summer - so it needs a shade structure too... it is a beautiful plant though...

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Definately Agave Tequilana "weber blue". I'm in closer to 9a than 8b. But I do get a freeze here on occasion. Enough to drop the cannas to the ground.
I've never had any trouble with the Agaves or Aloes, I've lost a few Kalanchoes and Aeoniums though.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

8b = 15F, 9a = 20F as average winter lows, that would kill a whole bunch of Agaves, and none faster than A. tequilana. We're 9b, and it's too cold for 'em here.

This message was edited Oct 16, 2012 2:43 PM

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