Foliage plants in bloom for Foliage Follow-Up


Even plants we grow primarily for the beauty of their leaves and their form will flower. On this Foliage Follow-Up, I’m sharing two bold-foliage plants that are adding a jolt of drama with surprising bloom stalks.

One is dwarf Texas palmetto (Sabal minor), a native Texas plant that I’ve never seen in bloom before. Boy, was I surprised recently to see a slender, pliable flower spike arise from the heart of one of my sabals. Inconspicuous, cream-colored flowers are held on branching stems along the top of the spike. This is as showy as they get. Later, small black fruits should appear on the spike.


Regular readers know that Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), is blooming — a tree-like flower spike that shot up to 15 feet in a matter of weeks. Tiers of yellow flowers are opening from bottom to top, with the lower-tier flowers already faded and dropped. The topmost flowers are still in bloom for now.

As dramatic as the bloom spike is, it presages Moby’s death, since agaves bloom just once and then die.


Moby’s beautiful blue-gray leaves still look pretty good for now. The plant hasn’t begun its inevitable collapse. But in preparation for that day, I now have a new Agave ovatifolia waiting in the wings — a lovely gift from horticulturist Nathan Unclebach at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery! Meet ‘Vanzie’, a wavy-leaved variety of the standard whale’s tongue, which will take Moby’s place when he dies.

This is my June post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

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All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Coneflower frenzy at Wildflower Center


What better greeting than a plethora of purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)? The ballerina-skirted beauties are brightening the entry to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center right now. Like Dr. Seussian trees, several multi-trunked Yucca rostrata stand behind them, adding shimmery drama.


The long view


Needle-sharp gray agaves — Agave neomexicana, I think — and grasses add starburst forms but vastly different textures to this beautiful, early-summer scene.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Thar she blows! Whale’s tongue agave flower spike attracting bees, flies


Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), is 61 days into his fatal flowering. Fun/sad fact: agaves flower once and then die. But I’ve had 10 good years with this agave, and I knew it was coming, so I’m just enjoying the grand display.


The lower tiers of flowers have already bloomed and faded (the shriveled brown ones pictured here), and their seedpods are falling into the broad, cupped leaves below. But plenty of flower buds (the green ones at top-left) remain on the higher “arms” of the 15-foot bloom spike.


While the plant itself hasn’t begun its inevitable collapse, Moby’s leaves are looking a bit worse for wear, with what appears to be sooty mold developing under the flower spike. The fallen seedpods are collecting here as well.


Pretty messy


And look, they attract bees and flies. The flowers, which swarm with bees during the day and moths at night, are surprisingly stinky. They’re way up there — the lowest flowers are 10 feet up — but I’ve caught their rotten-fruit smell halfway across the back yard. I’m sure the odor is a draw to certain pollinators that the agave needs to attract.

I’ve promised Nathan, horticulturist at Hill Country Water Gardens, dibs on the seedpods so that he can propagate them if any are viable. Eight years ago, he asked if he could come collect them when Moby bloomed, and now that day is here.

I split a couple of them open today but didn’t see any seeds. Nathan said that, in his experience, whale’s tongue agave doesn’t produce many seeds, at least not in our climate. I don’t know why, but I hope Moby will do better! And no, Moby has produced no pups (baby agaves at the base of the plant) or bulbils (baby agaves on the bloom spike), which I understand is typical for Agave ovatifolia, unlike more-prolific agaves like A. americana. And now you know why whale’s tongues can be pricey.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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