Don't cook my giant asparagus!

Don't cook my giant asparagus!

Is Calverts growing giant asparagus? No, but something big is definitely cooking...

Something seldom seen amongst agaves in captivity in pots, is one putting out its huge bloom spike.  And I mean huge, as in top- the- house, raise up old glory huge. A 6-inch plant can put out a 6 foot bloom spike.  So our 5-foot plant ....hmmm ...I think I hear the alleluia chorus. 

But first let's lay out some basic agave facts.  Yes, their common name is the century plant.  But it doesn't take them 100 years to do their thing.  Rather, it can be anywhere from a handful to about 40.  So much depends on their growing conditions, light, whether they are in a container, stresses, etc.  And speaking of stress, the candidate behind Calverts office had the crap beat out of him in May's hailstorm.  I can hear him now.."ee gads, with weather like this, I'd best be making lots of children!"  Agaves are native to the Americas, especially Mexico.  They come in sizes from a few inches to over 6 feet tall.  Their leaves can be wickedly spined or totally pettably spineless.    They can have curly leaves, narrow leaves, hairy leaves, or totally smooth leaves.  Many times the baby version doesn't look like a mature specimen.  And varied growing conditions can make the same species look different.  Sometimes as the new leaves of an agave unfurl, they will imprint a pattern on the lower leaves.  This is called a bud imprint, which adds to their unusual beauty.  The fibrous leaves are all arranged in a rosette that helps direct water down to the roots in time of low rainfall.  Many agaves can take blazing sun, but some need lots of shade in hot weather.   Some people get agaves and aloes confused.  Here's a few things to remember.  Aloes are native to Africa, agaves to the Americas.  An aloe leaves' teeth are an outgrowth of the leaf, ...but an agave's are a separate attachment, like a fingernail.  Also an aloe can have teeth on any side of its leaf, but agaves are only on the edges, with spines on the tips.  Some aloes' leaves are not arranged in a rosette, but agaves always are.   And finally, aloes bloom many times in their life, with their flower emerging from between the axils of the leaves.   But most agaves are monocarpic, which means they bloom once, then die.  The flower emerges from the very center of the plant, where new leaves would normally appear.  There are a few agaves species that can bloom more than once, like an aloe.  One of them is called agave bracteosa.   I like to collect my agaves as babies, when they are so much easier to get to know and admire.   Meanwhile, our friend sitting behind Calverts will be in a race against the weather.  His flower has a long way to go before if he expects to make it before it freezes.  The agave cam will keep you posted......Alleluia

Alleluia aaalleluja...

 

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