Plant Spotlight: Parry's Agave
June 24, 2020
Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi) is a delightfully small gray/blue-toned agave with a very slow growth rate. It is exceptionally cold-hardy and forms beautiful rosette-shaped plants in a drought-resistant xeric garden. As long as the plant is kept relatively dry, this agave has been known to survive to zone 5 temperatures, although it is most commonly planted in garden zones 7-10. Leaves of this agave have spiny margins and spiky tips with a unique gray/blue tone that gives this plant a striking appearance in the garden. Mass plantings in the landscape can be quite spectacular. It is brilliantly contrasted with yellow and red colors within the landscape. Agave has been used as a source of food, fiber, soap, and medicine too.
Plant in well-drained gritty soil in full sun, although the plant will tolerate light or filtered shade. Prefers dry soils and tolerates drought. Fertilize lightly. Water regularly upon initial planting. Parry’s agave prefers a deep drink, then a complete dry-out in between waterings and can be quite drought-tolerant once established.
This plant rarely flowers. Like most agaves, Parry’s Agave develops a giant flowering stalk 10 to 15 years from the time of planting, although with exception it could be as long as 20 to 30 years. When the flowering stalk develops, it will shoot 20 feet into the air with 20 to 30 side branches and hundreds of flowers. These bud red, but bloom bright yellow. Once this plant flowers, it will develop seed pods, then its spike will topple over and the entire plant will die. Pups, or suckers, form off the root at the base of the rosette forming plant, which will in time form a colony of rosettes. Cut the pups off the primary plant in order to reproduce and expand the planting.
Use evergreen Parry’s Agave as a front-of-the-border or groundcover plant in dry and xeric gardens. Great in front of Russian Sage, Rosemary, and Lavender. Excellent as a container plant for non-hardy areas.
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