Introduction to Agave Plants
This huge American member of the lily family, that has hundreds of species and even more cultivars, has succulent leaves and stems. There are many different sizes of Agaves; from seven inches to 12 feet, the range of sizes of agaves is quite diverse. Agave have many uses by human beings; such great landscaping, healing, beverages, and industry. This brief summary won't even scratch the surface of the many Agave species. However, we will inform you of other resources for more indepth information on Agaves. Here are some examples of the different growth forms of agave plants.
Small, Rarely More Than 10 Inches Wide at Maturity.
These kind of Agave remain small. A mature rosette may mature at less than 10 inches wide. They are great for those with limited space and they can happily spend their whole life a small pot. One of the most popoular small Agaves is the A. parviflora.
Medium, Not More than Four Feet Wide.
Most species of agaves seen in landscaping do not reach more than four feet wide. These form tightly packed spiraled rosettes that sucker freely to form large mounds. Some of the more popular species are Agave parryi complex, A. filifera, and A. lopantha.
Large, Maturing at larger then Six Feet Wide and Tall.
These kind of Agaves grow to be very large and heavy. A single leaf can be more than 7 feet long, filled with succulent tissue, making very heavy. Even at a young age, a rosette of 6-8 leaves can weigh more than 100 pounds. You need lots of space and must decide the final location for the plant during the planning stages of the landscape. Once these large succulent plants are in the ground, they are very difficult to move. You'll also want to be sure they are not locate near pathways, buidlings, or foundations. They may damage sidewalks, floors, and walls. However, if you have some acreage that will allow them to spread out, they can really make a positive statement in the landscape. Some examples of these large Agaves are A. americana, A. salmiana v. ferox, and A. marmorata.
There have been many Agave hybrids produced over the decades. Most originated from growers in southern California, such as San Marcos Growers, Nature's Curiosity Shop, and Rancho Soledad's Kelly Griffin. However, these days most new varieties of hybrids, especially, variegated agaves are coming from Asia. The Japanese have made hybrid development a science. They rapidly propagate and select new varieties on a very large scale. Thailand, which a very suitable climate for many plants, have become leaders in Agave propagation. They typically do not create new hybrids, but multiply by the thousands what is currently available. And lastly several companies have begun propagating unusual Agaves by tissue culture. Tissue culture is a process where single plant cells are grown in an absolutely sterile environment until they are of a size capable of planting in real soil.