Manfreda undulata ‘Chocolate Chips’ is in bloom all over Austin, judging by posts on various local garden blogs. I have two of these striking plants. The more mature one bloomed several weeks ago, but my newest, a passalong from Eleanor, is doing its Dr. Seussian thing now. It hasn’t escaped the notice of the honeybees, who have easy work collecting pollen from the exposed anthers.
This fanciful yet moody flower sits atop a 6-foot stalk. You definitely sit up and take notice when it blooms. In the background you can see the spent bloom stalk of the other manfreda.
Here’s how it looks at ground level (picture taken before blooming). Don’t you just love those wavy, chocolate-spotted leaves? The eye-catching foliage is the real reason for growing ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda. It’s a low-growing plant, despite its grandiose flower, so it works best in a container or a raised bed, where you can really appreciate it.
Unlike agaves, manfredas don’t die after blooming, and once established they’ll bloom annually. Mine survived last winter’s prolonged stretch of 20-degree weather with no damage whatsoever. Just be sure to give it good drainage. And unlike many more-tender succulents, you don’t need to baby it with protection from the Death Star. Mine gets several hours of afternoon sun and simply basks in it. Would that I could do the same.
Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.
All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.