Thursday, June 25, 2020

Dividing Fox Tail Agave

Fox Tail Agave (Agave attenuata) 

If you are familiar with Agave attenuata, you are aware that they are beautiful plants to have. They make a dramatic statement wherever they are in the garden.  In addition to that they are also easy to grow.  However, they tend to get woody and heavy.   Like most succulents, the leaves serve as water storage and so you can imagine the weight.  They are also very phototropic which means that they tend to grow towards the source of light.  For a while I grew two of these in large pots which are equivalent to five gallons.  They were positioned in the yard against the east facing wall of our house.  They got the milder morning sun and were shaded by the house later in the afternoon. The condition was favorable for their growth, they got big but growing towards only one side.  Soon the pots could not stand without much help anymore because of their weight. 

My plants needed to be repotted two years ago but the job seemed daunting.  I procrastinated.  But during these days we have a lot of time to spare.  I asked my husband helped me.  First of all we had to break the pot - they were totally root bound and there was no way of separating the roots from the pot without breaking the plants - and then break the individual heads.

Agave in our front yard.  It's about to fall on one side.  

These are the things I learned from the process:
1.  Agave attenuata are great for handling, they don't hurt you.
2.  Hand saw works perfectly for cutting the stems apart.  
3.  Remove all the old roots.  The newly cut stems will have to problem growing new roots.
4.  If the stems are too long and they can be shortened by cutting the stem with the saw. 
5.  Soak the ends of the stems in water for a couple of days or plant them directly. 
6.  Separate all the little pups and plant them in appropriately sized pots to have more plants.  
7. The little plants are perfect for giving away to friends and neighbors.

Newly repotted Agave attenuata

Note: In spite of the number of years that I had these plants, they haven't bloomed in my possession yet - in other words they have not shown me their fox tail yet. And for that reason, I still feel more comfortable calling them Agave attenuata. 😃

Some tasks in the garden might seem daunting but when we confront them, we become more informed.


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