Small Agaves in the Garden
Oftentimes when I'm eyeing a fabulous looking plant at a local nursery the impulsive collector in me uses his full powers of persuasion while whispering sweetly - "Just buy it - you'll find a spot for it someplace." Balanced on my other shoulder is the realist with a pragmatic voice insisting I have a plan. That second voice I trust to do things like tax planning but isn't the first voice so much more fun to hang out with in the garden? Where was I going with this train of thought... small Agaves!
|Agave patonii 'Alba Marginata' Summer, 2020|
Their diminutive size places them in a state of 'perma-cuteness' and means you can collect a lot of them before you run out of space.
The above A. patonii is growing on a outside corner next to a driveway where not much else would have room to grow or survive.
|A. patonii happily growing inside an exposed corner.|
|Along a garden path in full sun almost all the time|
The three Agave filifera ssp. schidigera "Shira ito no Ohi" above are growing well and I doubt they will ever run out of room!
The great thing about the smaller Agaves is that the pragmatic voice can be satisfied as well. Itty-bitty size, architectural form, low water requirements, low maintenance - these are qualities that make them well suited for some specific jobs in the garden. For example along the edge of a curved, garden path where visitors have time to take in details.
|Agave parryi ssp buachuensis "JC Raulston"|
I'm not really sure if this A. parryi will stay small as it's reported to get 2-3' wide but it's been in the ground now for almost two years and has stayed roughly the same size. It's very different from an "Artichoke Agave" cousin down the way which is several times this size.
|Agave isthmensis "Rum Runner"|
I have a few "Rum Runner's" planted along the edge of a road in front of our house. They'll never get big enough to grow into the road so maintenance isn't an issue - unlike for example a big bushy Salvia.
|Agave Kissho Kan|
The above blanket of Wooly Thyme surround this Agave Kisso Kan was a happy accident. The contrast of textures is kinda of cool right? I like how this little Agave is framed by a mat of green.
|Miniature Agaves being overrun by A. funkiana "Fatal Attraction"|
A not so happy accident. I didn't realize Agave funkiana "Fatal Attraction" could be so invasive - but it has been quick to spread. The small A. Kisso Kan to the right looks like it is about to be overtaken. Below is a shot from a different angle taken a few years ago.
|A. funkiana 'Fatal Attraction' just after planting in 2018|
This is taking place alongside a path so digging up the "Fatal Attraction" volunteers is on my bucket list. Lesson learned - be careful what's planted next to your miniatures.
Of course miniature agave's are also perfect for a pot - especially if you live in a cooler clime and need to bring plants in for the Winter.