Succulent Gardening: The Art of Nature

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Agaves ~ Agavaceae family

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Like Aloes, there are hundreds of Agave species. In the 17th century, they were brought to Europe from the Americas. Since then, they have been popular in Mediterranean gardens. Native American indians cultivated them for fibers, food and drinks for centuries before that. Agaves are succulent rosettes on short trunks. Most times they have a sharp spine at the end of their leaves, so should not be place on walking paths. After about 8 years, each rosette blooms. Because the rosette uses all of its energy to produce a long giant bloom, it generally dries up after blooming. Some species produce a large quantity of new plants on the flower stem (bulbils). These can be detached and planted. Can take full sun. Let them dry out fairly well between waterings. Plant in any soil, as long as it is well draining. There are a number of different Agave species, and the culture & care can be somewhat different between them. Some varieties can withstand sub-freezing temperatures while other will not. All are in the Succulent family, have fibrous, somewhat shallow root systems, prefer some shade or filtered light (especially if small / young) during the day, but some older plants can even take full sun all day long. They like a little extra water to keep vigorous growth going, but can withstand some periods of drought. In the Summer, a mature plant can use up to 2-4 gallons of water a week, but may only need 1 gallon per week in the Winter. All prefer well-drained soil, & a good soil mix might consist of 1 part each of potting soil, native soil, & pumice, and they do well as landscape or container plants. You can fertilize Agave lightly monthly with a well-balanced plant food, & possibly give the plant a little extra / second dose in the Spring & again in the Fall. The only pests that seem to bother Agave are Snout Weevils & Mites, both of which can be easily controlled ( with recommended insecticides & miticides) in signs are seen of these pests. Crown Rot disease (Phytophthora) can occur if given too much water or if in an area of high rail totals, & again a good fungicide can help control that. If you have rabbits in your area, they, too, can occasionally try to nibble on Agaves. Agave plants can take full sun. Let them dry out fairly well betweenwaterings. Plant in any soil, as long as it is well draining.

Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata is native to Jalisco, Mexico. They send out lots of pups and are great if you need to cover a large area. Agave attenuata require light shade to sun. They originated in the Mountains of central Mexico. They grow in clumps to 5 feet tall and 5 feet diameter. Water infrequently. Propagate by Suckers (called pups), seeds, bulbils from the inflorescence. Agave attenuata is a tropical agave and is frost sensitive. This agave will tolerate poor soil and drought, but does much better in good soil and regular water. Click photo for more information

Agave 'Blue Glow'

Agave 'Blue Glow' - is a beautiful Agave which grows to 2 feet high and 3 feet wide. It's leaves are about 18" long by 1 1/2" wide It doesn't require much water and is said to thrive in temperatures in the 20s° F. This hybrid between Agave attenuata and Agave ocahui is reported to be a Kelly Griffin hybrid. The photo is of 3 gallon pot.

Agave bracteosa
Agave bracteosa is a Slow growing succulent. It grows 1 foot tall by 18" wide rosettes of unarmed (spineless) pale green leaves. The leaves, which usually number 20 or fewer emerge vertically in the center and arch gracefully back towards the outside of the plant. This plant suckers to gradually form a dense stand. When plants mature a 3 to 5 foot tall spike bears a dense terminal cluster of white flowers, distinctive from all other Agave. After flowering the main rosette slowly dies but younger suckers perpetuate the plant. Fairly drought tolerant in coastal gardens although performs best with occasional irrigation and requires it in hotter inland sites. Plant in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil. Hardy to 10 F. From San Marcos Growers

Agave geminiflora

Agave geminiflora (Twin-flowered Agave) - This unique agave has narrow, dark green unarmed leaves that are very flexible. These leaves, which often number in the 100's, cascade from the center of the plant forming a dense rounded rosette to 2 to 3 feet tall by as wide. When plants mature they will initiate flowers which are formed in pairs on an unbranched spike that rises 8 to 10 feet. Plant in full sun along coast and part sun to light shade in hot inland gardens. Drought resistant, but looks better with some summer watering. Hardy to 25 F. Although this species is noted to not produce offsets, Please Click photo for complete information.

Agave isthmensis

Agave isthmensis (Dwarf Butterfly Agave) - A small, offsetting agave with the individual rosettes reaching to 1 foot tall by an equal width with 4 to 5-inch-long by 2 to 3-inch-wide powder-gray-blue ovate leaves that narrow towards the base and are at their widest near the tip. The leaves have a slightly gritty (rugose) texture and margins that have shallow rounded lobes with prominent dark reddish-brown teeth and a terminal spine. click photo for more information and larger photo. This information came from

Agave lopantha 'Quadricolor'

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' (Quadricolor Century Plant) - A very distinctive and attractive small agave to 12 to 18 inches tall by 2 feet wide with 6 to 12 inch long, dark green leaves edged with yellow and having a pale green midstripe. The yellow marginal stripes, highlighted by dark reddish teeth, flush red when grown in bright light to give the leaf four distinct colors. Plant in full sun to bright filtered light (best sheltered from full summer sun in hot climates) in a well-drained soil. Tolerates dry conditions but will grow much faster with regular summer irrigation - keep drier in winter.agavelopanthaquadricolorz

  Agave mediopicta alba

Agave medio picta alba is a beautiful variegated white striped plant. A mature plant will grow to 3-4 feet in height and 4-6 feet in width. I have mine in full sun with western exposure. They will grow in full sun or part shade and are generally hardy to 20 degrees F. This agave sends out pups for you to plant and expand your collection.

Agave multifilifera

This delightful Mexican agave, native to 7,000' elevation in Durango, Chihuahua and Sinaloa, is closely allied with the better known Agave filifera, except for, of course, more hairs. When old clumps develop, start looking for a 16' tall flower spike with cool green and pink flowers. Please click photo for more information.

Agave stricta nana

Agave stricta is native to the mountains of Puebla Mexico, and this dwarf version ‘nana’ of the “Hedge Hog” Agave forms perfectly spherical rosettes up to 12” in diameter that consist of countless hard, narrow, skewer-like leaves with a pronounced terminal spike; it offsets freely to form clusters to 3 feet in diameter. In summer, mature plants will sport a tall flower stalk with flowers varying from green to reddish brown. It adapts well to cultivation and is hardy to drought and some frost, but protect from frost to prevent possible scarring. Please click photo for more information.

Agave victoriae

Agave victoriae-reginae (Queen Victoria Agave) - A slow-growing and attractive small clump-forming agave to 1 foot tall by 1 1/2 feet wide with tight-fitting, tapered deep green leaves that are edged in white along the margins and end in a small terminal spine; the leaf margins are smooth and spineless. When the plant flowers, which only happens with considerable age, the unbranched spike can reach to 15 feet and bares densely packed reddish-purple flowers. After flowering this species usually does not offset and will have to be replaced. Plant in full sun or light shade. Drought tolerant. Hardy to at least 10 F°. agavevictoriaereginae

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