Just look at an agave, and you fall in love with this sculptural, rosette-shaped succulent. Touch one, and you may find leathery leaves and wicked spines. Trim one, and you may get caustic sap that causes severe rash. Plants may not flower for many years, but once they do they die, usually leaving offsets behind to carry on. You gain respect for species with such survival mechanisms.
My favorites are Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue,’ A. franzosinii, and A. ‘Blue Glow’ plus its new sport ‘Snow Glow.’ These noble waterwise plants, all native to Mexico, make a statement as a singleton or massed.
Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’ – Whale’s Tongue Agave
Growing 3-4′ high and wide, non-offsetting A. ovatifolia is most often gray-green, but I prefer the sky-blue ‘Frosty blue‘ variant. This beauty has become a design element throughout our 1-acre garden.
Our 14 planted in 2012 are so stunning that garden tourists often ask about them and their photographs embellish a wholesale nursery website. Last year 9 new ‘Frosty Blue‘ were central to our grass be gone #2 redo, and another 7 replaced a less-hardy species behind a hillside bench.
Young franzosinii can look like A. Americana until, voila, its huge powdery-blue leaves begin to bend and undulate. It grows 8-10′ tall and wide, and occasionally sends up a shoot several feet away.
Most online photos don’t do this century plant justice. It is drop-dead gorgeous from above, below, or any angle. Four franzosinii now 6′ tall are down on our south slope. Up on our north slope are 5 that went in 3 years ago plus 10 recently added to extend their dramatic march along a stone wall.
Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and ‘Snow Glow’
A hybrid between A. ocahui and A. attenuata, ‘Blue Glow‘ inherited the best of each parent. This small-stature, big-impact charmer with blue-green leaves edged in red/yellow replaced hoggish carex by our pool. Listed as slow growing to 2′ tall by 3′ wide, in 20 months our 16 doubled in size and produced several pups.
A mystery plant with glaucous leaves with red margins and glowing white bands caught my eye at a nursery late last year. It was ‘Snow Glow,’ a new chance sport of ‘Blue Glow.’ Ten adorn a premier space by our garden stairs now.