Agave victoriae-reginae: Queen Agave

Anyone who has travelled in Mexico will never forget the stony semi-deserts dotted with Yucca, Nolina, Beaucarnea and Agave. Some 200 species of the latter genus are to be found there, ranging from ‘dwarfs’ several tens of centimetres (a few feet) high to veritable ‘giants’ measuring about 2.5 m (8 ft). Agaves, of course, are also of economic value, use being made of the fibres from the leaves, called sisal, and of the sap, which is fermented to give pulque and after distillation the well-known intoxicating beverage tequila. They may be encountered in every suitable place, growing in whole plantations or at least in belts marking the boundaries between separate tracts of land; such a 2-m- (6-ft-) high barbed fence is a formidable barrier. Flowering plants are a spectacular sight with their huge branched spikes of yellow, green or white blossoms, often towering several metres (yards) into the air. When they fade the whole plant dies, but not before making several offshoots.

The species is one of the most beautiful. It is relatively small, mature plants measuring 50 to 70 cm (20 to 28 in) in diameter at the most. The leaves are arranged in a dense rosette. They are green with white stripes, smooth-edged and furnished with one long plus two short spines at the end. A. victoriae-reginae is native to the Nuevo Leon region in northern Mexico.

Cultivation is not difficult. Like most succulents it requires plenty of space for the underground parts and should thus be put in a large container filled with a good, nourishing compost — a mixture of loam, sand and stone rubble. A thick layer of gravel on the bottom of the container will ensure good drainage. Feed should be supplied in sufficient quantity during the growth period, best of all once a week when watering.

Like most plants of this genus, Agave victoriae-reginae is generally grown indoors throughout the year and not moved outdoors in summer. It must be provided with a rest period in winter when the temperature should be reduced. .

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Agave victoriae-reginae: Queen Agave

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