Mangave "Mission to Mars" aka "The Shambling Mound"

Most of the references online list Mangave "Mission to Mars" as measuring in at the relatively tame size of 1 foot tall by 1 to 2 feet wide. The reality is different - at least in my yard. What started out as a cute plant maybe measuring 10 inches wide has grown into a monster at least 3-4 feet wide and tall.

Mangave "Mission to Mars" mature specimen
The amorphous form of "Mission to Mars"

Over the last year or two it has become hard to describe it's shape - or maybe even where it begins or ends as it's sprouted several large pups. It's long leaves tend to twist and turn in every direction.

Mangave "Mission to Mars" with flower stalk

While I'd still consider it an interesting (and beautiful) plant, it's size and finely serrated leaf margins make it a bad choice near paths. Mine of course is planted along a path.

Mangave "Mission to Mars" with flower stalks
"Mission to Mars" flower stalks

When I saw the flower stalk emerging last week I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I saw 2 more emerging from it's offsets. That's right - the parent plant and the pups are blooming at the same time. Weird.

Managave "Mission to Mars" flower stalk close up
Flower Stalk Close up

The flower stalks have an other-worldly quality. The purple freckles look like they could have been splattered on by a water colorist.


Mangave "Mission to Mars" flower stalk

I'm guessing by their size after a week+ that these stalks will grow quite tall. I don't know what to expect as the parentage is just described as 'complex'. This is a hybrid with several Agave and Manfreda parents. As usual San Marcos Growers does the best job providing details - Managave Mission to Mars

Updates to follow once the flower stalk has grown.

Updates:

Mangave "Mission to Mars" flower stalk
Early June, 2021

The flower stalk in the above picture is about 10 feet.

Mangave "Mission to Mars" flower stalk closeup

Mangave "Mission to Mars" flower stalk closeup


Comments

  1. Oh my! That is weird. I've got one 'Mission to Mars', obtained in a very small pot and planted just 18 months ag. It's still dinky. If it grows like yours I'll have to find a new home for it. I wonder if your flower spikes will produce anything like bulbils, although I suppose you don't really need those as yours is clearly pupping like crazy.

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    1. I wonder too! Because it's parentage is complex I wonder if bulbils or see might revert or produce something else unexpected.

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  2. How exciting! In addition to wondering about bulbils I wonder will the blooming plant die? I assume so. Looking forward to updates!

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    1. I was wondering that as well... and to be honest I'd be ok if the plant dies after blooming :) It's gotten too big for the space.

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  3. Strange, but in a good way. Frankenplant?

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  4. These mangaves are throwing some real curveballs. My 'Mission to Mars' is still solitary and half that size, but they do seem to mature fast.

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    1. My experience with this plant was something like: "I hope it survives." and then later "Oh, it's doing well - it's grown", and then "What the heck?! this thing is taking over!" Love to hear what happens with your plant.

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  5. Have one in a container that overwinters indoors. It has filled it in one year with a whole lot of pups.

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    1. It's definitely a beautiful plant worthy of a pot. Maybe yours will stay at a size relative to the pot - I have a feeling if you got a bigger pot the plant would grow bigger.

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