A week of lockdown has passed; 7 days down the journey and still plenty of time to spend on “all
matters gardening”. Succulents and water efficient plants will no doubt continue to gain favour in
the post lockdown period. They are attractive and yet require minimal care and attention relative to
many of the ordinary flowering garden plants. Here are a few examples of tough, hardy and
enduring succulent plants to consider for your own gardens once Covid 19 is all over:
Agaves or century plants originate from the Americas where they perform a similar role in the
ecosystem as aloes in the African landscape. With armoured leaves edged with sharp protective
spines and strong stout stems, they are shapely, statuesque plants in the garden. One fundamental
difference is that agaves are monocarpic plants – they flower once, after which the parent plant dies
off leaving seeds and sometimes plantlets on the old inflorescence and suckers at the base of the
plant. These form the next generation of the plants to ensure the continuation of the species.
Flowering occurs after 5 to 15 years, depending on the type of agave and obviously growing
conditions. Birds and insects are attracted to the agave flowers to ensure pollination. Once the
growing cycle is complete, the parent plants need to be removed in order for the next generation to
progress. Aloes on the other hand, bloom seasonally every year for many decades before they
eventually come to the end of their lifespan.
I’m in a fortunate place where there is a wealth of beautiful plants in the garden. Here are a few
pictures of different agave plants that illustrate these points rather strikingly. There are hundreds of
different agave species with many garden hybrids, many with colourful variegated foliage. Agave
americana is a common escapee in rural areas and is declared as an alien invader plant – may not be
grown or cultivated. However there are so many spectacular garden friendly agaves – they’re well
worth collecting, especially considering that they are cold and drought resistant.
Until next time – love your garden…..Gerald