Posts

Plants can do some spectacular things, and the dramatic process when agave send up their flowering stalk, definitely qualifies. Yesterday, I noticed that my octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana) had begun to send up its fleshy shoot. 

I must confess that I had mixed feelings about it. My first reaction was excitement in getting to view the impressive growth of the fleshy stem and the flowers that will follow. But then, I felt sad that this signaled the beginning of the end for my octopus agave. 

You see, this agave is the ‘grandbaby’ of the first agave that I ever planted, back in the late 1990’s, making three generations of flowering agave in my Arizona garden.

Eventually, that agave flowered, and I harvested one of the babies and planted it in a pot. Several years later, that octopus agave went through the same process, and I collected two babies.

The two siblings started out growing in a pot, and when they got large enough, I transplanted them out into the garden.

One was planted in a corner but had a short-lived stint in the garden as construction near the wall meant that it had to go.

Its sibling did great in its new spot in the front garden when it was planted in 2010, and now it is getting ready for babies.

The tiny baby agave are barely visible, and the stalk will grow several inches a day.

Octopus agave don’t have a long lifespan and mine average eight years in the ground before they flower. 

In a few months, miniature octopus agave will cover the flowering stalk, which can be easily detached and replanted in the garden. It’s hard to believe that I will be planting the fourth generation of agave in my garden.

*I will keep you updated as it continues to grow and the arrival of baby agave.

It’s that time of year, the weather is cooler, the trees are dressed up in their colors and people are almost ready for Halloween.  


My youngest daughter, Gracie, is going to be a ‘butterfly princess’ this year and my son Kai will be the ‘Brawny’ paper towel guy.  I bought him work boots (he loves those), a flannel shirt and of course, a package of ‘Brawny’ paper towels.  

This year, we will be hosting the family Halloween night with my sister, brother and their families.  I can hardly wait.  


This post has been a huge favorite every year.  I hope you enjoy it!

*********************************

My kids, aren’t the only ones ready for Halloween.  Use your imagination and see how these plants are prepared as well…..



Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana) beginning growing it’s snake-like flower stalk.
Growing up to one foot a day, like a snake coming out of the snake charmer’s basket.


 
Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) climbing up the pillar and underneath….hanging down 
like spiderwebs.


 
A Yucca reclining like a lovely lady.  
But beware….she stabs you with her leaves if you get too close….
(This Yucca was trained to grow this way)


 
Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) dressed as a giant.

 
 
The ‘claws’ of an Agave


 
Ocotillo (Fouquierea splendens) with a Medusa hairstyle.

 
Sticks of Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli), will not burn you….but it is poisonous.


 
The spooky silhouette of a Shoestring Acacia (Acacia stenophylla).
You can almost hear the hooting owls…


 
Crested Saguaro (Saguaro carnegiea)
A saguaro all dressed up with a new hairstyle.



Twin-Flowered Agave (Agave geminiflora), sprouting horns.

And finally….  

 A beautiful White Oleander (Nerium oleander) flower lures you in with her subtle fragrance.
But Beware!  She is deadly if ingested…


I hope you enjoyed the plants in their “costumes”.

Are you or your children dressing up for Halloween this year?  
What as?

One of the iconic plants of the Southwest flowers only once and produces the most unusual flowers you will probably ever see. 

What is even more interesting, is that each one of these plants produces a different type of flower depending on the species. 

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the plant dies after flowering.

So, by now you may have guessed that I am talking about Agave, sometimes referred to as Century Plant, although they do not take that long to flower.

As I was preparing this post, I was going through my photos of flowering agave and I was struck again at how unusual they are and how different they look from species to species.  Some form a single stalk and others branch out from the single stalk.

I would like to share with you some of my favorites….

When an agave flowers is largely dependent on the species.  Some only take 8 years, while others can wait up to 25 years before they flower.
Some people inadvertently hasten the flowering process by over watering and fertilizing their agave.


 Not all agave flower at the same time.  Some start in the spring while others begin in the fall.


 Contrary to popular opinion, removing the flowering stalk, will not keep your agave alive.  
In fact, you are interfering with the agave’s crowning glory – their life’s work by removing their flower.
It is fascinating to see how the stalk begins to rapidly grow and then transforms as you can see from the following photos of an Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana).
The stalk begins to appear.
It is so interesting to view up close.
The flowering stalk has reached its full height.
Small Octopus Agave that are just waiting to fall and root.  Or you can pull them off and plant them yourself.
The entire flowering process can take months and in many cases, the flowering stalk is quite beautiful and is highly prized.
You can even keep it after it has dried out.  Believe it or not, people pay money for dried agave stalks.
In my own landscape, I have 4 different types of agave and I am always thrilled when I see the flower stalk appear and can witness the strange and beautiful flowering process.
The flower of Agave desmettiana
So, how about you?  Have you witnessed an agave flowering?

The temperatures are warming and my garden is absolutely coming to life.  Well, it really wasn’t dead or brown because I do live in the Arizona desert, but many plants that were dormant during the winter, are starting to produce new leaves AND flower buds…I can hardly wait!

For the first time, I have decided to enter Gardening Gone Wild’s photo contest.  The theme for March is “Awakening”.  

Flowers of an Agave desmettiana
My entry is a photo of the flowers of an Agave desmettiana which are just beginning to open up in March.  These flowers are the crowning glory of the mature Agave plant, which pours all of it’s energy to producing these beautiful flowers.  Afterward, the Agave will die, but will live on through it’s offspring.