Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is this the world's ugliest Agave?

Take a look at my poor Agave tequilana. Surely this takes 1st place as the world's ugliest agave, ever! What a mutant!

Agave tequilana attempting to grow out winter damage

I've had this plant for a number of years, and believe it or not, this was once a beautiful specimen which easily held its own amongst it's other agave rivals. Although the leaves are the same colour as it's better known cousin, Agave americana, they are much narrower and strap-like. In terms of cultivation, I've found no noticable difference to Agave americana - it has taken considerable cold and frost without any issues at all, although always when kept dry. I used to overwinter it in an unheated greenhouse.

So what went wrong here then?! 

Due to the length of those long strappy leaves, there came a point when it could no longer fit through the greenhouse door. Instead it coped just fine under a makeshift polycarbonate roof outside against the house wall, along with one or two other plants. Two years ago, some rain blew under the roof which then froze into the crown. I thought that the centre had been killed, thereby killing the plant. Half of the leaves also died due to the damaging combination of cold and wet. 

Two years on, and Agave tequilana is proving to be a fighter! After producing a bunch of tiny, distorted leaves from the old growth point, new healthier leaves are now appearing out of the side of the crown. 

Lopsided and ugly? I prefer to call it character! It will be interesting to see how things look in another couple of years.


  1. There are tough plants and then there are Agaves. Even so, it's impressive that it's survived although I'd have thought it would have gone into pupping mode with that much damage.

    I've only got the one - Agave parryi - but it's survived complete neglect over the last two winters in the wreckage of my greenhouse, exposed to all the cold and wet we've had in Plymouth. There's a bit of die back on one leaf. Tough plants indeed.

  2. Interestingly, this Agave had produced 3 pups before the damage occured and none since! So not a prolific pupper at all. At least I do have more plants growing on that will hopefully look more attractive as they grow larger.

    I also grow Agave parryi, amongst others, and agree that they are much tougher than appearances would suggest!