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For The Garden

Focal Point Plants

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: January, 2013, Page 134
GIANT AGAVE
(Agave salmiana)



Focal Point plants

GIANT AGAVE
(Agave salmiana)

Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low desert

Blooms: Yellow on 20'-40' branching stalk; summer

Size: 6'-10'H by 6'-12'W

Soil: Excellent drainage

Light: Partial sun or filtered light beneath a tree canopy. It does not thrive in full sun or western exposures.

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: Manage agave snout weevils, which infect agaves with bacteria that rot and kill the plant.

Attracts: Birds, bees and butterflies

Note: Giant agave has been cultivated in Mexico for centuries to make alcoholic beverages. Like many agave species, it dies after flowering.

Why we like it: Its massive size, with curving foot-wide leaves, is living sculpture.



QUIVER TREE
(Aloe dichotoma)
QUIVER TREE
(Aloe dichotoma)

Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low desert

Blooms: Lemon yellow with orange stamens; winter

Size: 12'-25'H by 10'-12'W

Soil: Prefers rocky soil with excellent drainage, as it is prone to rot in wet soil.

Light: Full sun to light shade; benefits from temporary shade cover after transplanting in full sun.

Water needs: Low; too little may result in dried leaf tips

Maintenance: Wrap trunk with burlap or frost cloth if temperatures drop below 28 degrees F.

Attracts: Hummingbirds

Note: Plant tissue is dusted with a white powder that deflects the sun’s intensity.

Why we like it: Its trunk is crowned by rosettes of blue-green leaves, and trunk bark is etched with unusual textured fissures. Can be grown in a pot.



BEAKED YUCCA
(Yucca rostrata)
BEAKED YUCCA
(Yucca rostrata)

Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low to mid-desert

Blooms: Creamy white; late spring to summer

Size: 10'-16'H by 3'-6'W

Soil: Gravelly; best with good drainage

Light: Full sun or very light shade

Water needs: Low, with infrequent deep soaking during dry summer months

Maintenance: Remove spent flower stalks.

Attracts: Yucca moths

Note: Almost every yucca species has its own species of yucca moth that pollinates it. Neither can survive without the other.

Why we like it: Hundreds of striking bell-shaped flowers cover the bloom stalk. Silver-blue leaves form a rosette that matures into a tree form.



PERUVIAN APPLE CACTUS
(Cereus hildmannianus syn. C. Peruvianus)
PERUVIAN APPLE CACTUS
(Cereus hildmannianus syn. C. Peruvianus)

Type: Cactus

Elevation: Low desert

Blooms: White, some tinged with pink; spring to summer

Size: 20'H by 15'W

Soil: Excellent drainage

Light: Prefers afternoon shade; will tolerate full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Minimal. Propagate by cutting stems at joints, and let cuts harden before transplanting.

Attracts: Moths and bees (flowers); birds and bats (fruits)

Note: Will not tolerate wet feet in heavy clay soils.

Why we like it: Forms columnar stems that can be used as natural screening. Fragrant, funnel-shaped blooms open in the evening, lasting until early morning. In summer, edible apple-size red fruit dots the stems like Christmas balls.

Other Favorites:
Century plant (Agave americana, A. americana ‘Mediopicta’, A. Americana ‘Variegata’); Weber’s agave (A. weberi); saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea); soaptree yucca (Y. elata); Hercules aloe (A. barberae x A. dichotoma)
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