Agaves and yuccas: A summery Foliage Follow-Up

As summer’s Death Star begins to bear down on central Texas, and as our blessed spring rainfall dries up, the plants that continue to look good no matter what are the baddest of the bad boys: the spiny-tipped agaves and yuccas. No really, don’t be afraid of these spiky beauties. Their evergreen symmetry and architectural form give so much to the garden year-round, and they just bask in our long, hot summers. And they aren’t all giants like the silver American agaves that grow to the size of Hummers and threaten to swallow small bungalows. This artichoke-shaped beauty, for instance, is ‘Queen Victoria’ agave (A. victoriae-reginae), which is only about 10 inches tall and one foot wide—perfect for a container or raised bed.

‘Margaritaville’ yucca (Y. recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville’) glows a pale, citrusy yellow and will have you humming along to Jimmy Buffett. I’ve planted mine in a cast-off steel culvert pipe.

Squid agave (A. bracteosa) has wonderfully expressive “arms” and enjoys part-shade. This one’s swimming in a stock-tank planter, underplanted with ‘Angelina’ sedum (which only does so-so for me). Soft-textured ‘Tiny Fern’ bamboo (Bambusa multiplex ‘Tiny Fern’), a small-growing clumper, foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyersii’), and Texas sedge (Carex texensis) round out this generally dry, shady bed.

If you saw my recent post about Curt Arnette’s garden, you’ll know that I was coveting his gorgeous ‘Green Goblet’ agave (Agave salmiana var. ferox ‘Green Goblet’). After calling nurseries all over Austin yesterday, I hit the jackpot at Tillery Street Plant Co., where owner John told me he had ten 5-gallon plants in stock for $25 each. Whoo-hoo! Plant lust took over, and I bought two, having no idea where I will put them. Had. To. Have. There goes my plant allowance for a while.

How about you? What gorgeous foliage plants are you enjoying this month? Please join me in posting about your lovely leaves of June for Foliage Follow-Up, a way to remind ourselves of the importance of foliage in the garden. Leave your link to your Foliage Follow-Up post in a comment. I really appreciate it if you’ll also include a link to this post in your own post (sharing link love!). If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

22 Responses

  1. Spring was so advanced that most of the June flowers are long gone, but the foliage is looking good. But it’s hot and dry here like July or August, so I’m hoping the rain that’s forecast for today actually happens!

  2. sandy lawrence says:

    All I can say is, thank goodness for sweet potato vine at my house. That girl doesn’t care how hot it gets. Pam, would you please show a photo of ‘Tiny Fern’ in a future post? Or maybe you have one in a past post that we could see … I’m not big on bamboo after living next door to a guy who allowed his giant bamboo to take over the whole block, but this sounds like one that may be manageable. Thanks, as always, for the inspiration.

    Hi, Sandy. ‘Tiny Fern’ bamboo is pictured in the next-to-last image—the tallest plant in the back-left. Clumping bamboos are the way to go; they don’t run. —Pam

  3. Yay for Agave plant lust! Especially when you are able to satiate it.

    My foliage follow-up post is practically the opposite of yours, I’m celebrating the tiniest foliage in my collection.

  4. Sheesh…you and your agave cravings! Be glad your extra humidity and cloud cover lets your 10″+ of rain this year go much, much further than the same would out here…let alone our 2″ to date:-) Great notes on smaller agaves, by the way – all those spiky plants just shine on all summer, all winter, etc.

  5. Denise says:

    Great score on the Green Goblet, Pam, and at a very decent price. I’m surprised to find the Angelina sedum is just so-so. I was beginning to think it was the cockroach of plants.

    ‘Angelina’ sedum seems not to like our summer heat and humidity. It hangs on, but I find other sedums, like ‘Blue Spruce’, do better for me. —Pam

  6. Ha! Didn’t take long to relieve that ‘plant lust’. Looking forward to seeing where you put those beautiful agaves.

    Here’s my contribution for the day.

    Have a great weekend. Stay cool!

  7. louis says:

    Love your agaves and yuccas! Yuccas have taken a special interest for me this past month. I planted three new yucca rostrata!!! And you perhaps know that I am an agave freak! Those green goblet agaves are epic! I’m so very happy that you got two beauties. Sometimes plant lust must take over! But I have super plant lust over your Y. recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville.’ I have already decided that I don’t just want one, but I need one!!!!

  8. I always love to see your agaves and other succulents…you’ve given me an appreciation for them that I didn’t have before. I really wish I could grow them! I posted about the coleus collection at B.B. Barns for Foliage Follow-up. Here’s the link: Hope you’re having a good weekend. Thanks, Pam!

    Daricia, you could definitely grow some agaves and especially yuccas in your Charlotte garden. Yuccas are quite cold-hardy, as are a few agaves like Harvard agave and Parry’s agave. The key is to give them excellent drainage, especially during cold weather. Gravelly berms or slopes work best. —Pam

  9. Hoov says:

    Great score on the ‘Green Goblet’, and Sedum ‘Angelina’ is so-so here, too. Here’s a garden so big only foliage will do:

    Hi, Hoov. Thanks for joining in for Foliage Follow-Up! I wasn’t able to leave a comment on your post without an account, so here’s what I wanted to say: What a beautiful foliage garden. What garden is this? BTW, I like your tagline! —Pam

  10. Yikes! I didn’t make it to F. Followup and Bloom Day yet again. But indeed, I treasure my foliar stand-outs that get me through the heat. Love your designs!

    Thanks for dropping by, Linda. I’m seeing some stand-out foliage in these posts, and you had one of my faves in your recent post as well—that ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave. —Pam

  11. Renee says:

    I like what you said about the spiny plants – they do add so much to the landscape, and with so little water (usually)! After doing my first ever GBBD, I also took a look at what foliage is taking hold in my baby garden! Here is a link:

    Have a great weekend!

    Hi, Renee. Thanks for joining in for your first Foliage Follow-Up! I couldn’t leave a comment on your post without an account, so here it is: Great foliage plants, Renee, especially all those gorgeous agaves. I want to grow castor bean next year too and will try it from seed if I can find room for it. —Pam

  12. Agaves and Yuccas seem perfect for a hot, summer garden! It’s nice to know there are some smaller varieties, too. I might try some up at our cottage, which has sandy soil. And I don’t get up there enough to water plants. I’m joining in this month with this post: Thanks, Pam!

  13. Alison says:

    I HAVE to get a squid agave! I love you calling it “wonderfully expressive.” That’s it, exactly! I have you and Loree to thank for my new obsession with agaves.

    My Foliage Followup is from a garden tour I took today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  14. Ruth says:

    I a reading and learning! The only real foliage I have that really doesn’t seem to mind the heat, even thrives in it, is my curry plant, which is currently in bloom. I was very surprised to notice that it was taking over my rosemary plant as well, since I know rosemary is very hardy itself. Next June, I hope I have a different answer to this question.

  15. Hi Pam,
    I always enjoy seeing your fancy succulents. They have such cool shapes and personalities. I got my foliage post done last night, but forgot to link in. When I put your links, I put them to your blog, and not the post, because sometimes, I get done and schedule it before you’ve put your post up, and I’m thinking I also just put a link to my blog, and not the post. I think that’s because I used to link to the posts, but then, forgot to change it, and it ended up going to my previous one. So, here’s a link to my blog, which will have the foliage post up for a few days at least.

    I hope summer is not totally dry for you. We had been dry, but enjoyed over 2 inches of rain a few days ago.

    Thanks for posting, Sue. I usually add the link to the particular post for each contributor, and I don’t mind doing it. That way a reader who comes along a year from now can find the right post when they click on other bloggers’ links. —Pam

  16. ricki says:

    Always something new to learn. I never thought about adding a specific link to the post, but now I will from here on:
    I haven’t had great luck with Agaves, so I rely on you and Loree to satisfy my cravings for those dramatic divas with your great posts.

  17. I wonder just where Miss Angelina IS happy?! She did fine for me for a couple of years, and then over this past winter–which was the MILDEST one I can ever remember–she completely disappeared! I was shocked, since I’d heard of others losing her in colder areas around me (I benefit from the lake, and am technically a zone warmer than some) but I figured that she would be going gangbusters this year. Apparently not. :-(

    Ah well. Enough of my pouting–er, commiserating. Here’s my late-as-usual Foliage Follow-Up post:

    Maybe ‘Angelina’ is happy in CA? They can grow anything, right? —Pam

  18. Good call–maybe she IS happy in California! Or the Pacific Northwest… seems they can grow anything over there. :-)

  19. Greggo says:

    Sorry to be so late. I thought you would enjoy the story. Link back:

    It’s never too late for Foliage Follow-Up, Greggo. Thanks for posting and linking back. —Pam

  20. Scott Weber says:

    Oops…I could have sworn I posted this a few days ago…sorry!!!

  21. Hi Pam

    I wish I could send you some of our extra rain your way. I can only drool over the lovely architectural agaves – something that would only survive in a conservatory here.

  22. Peter says:

    Hi Pam,

    Your Yucca and Agaves are beautiful. I’ll trade you some cool breezes and a little rain from the Northwest for a few degrees of heat!
    I’m extremely late with my first foliage follow up. Sorry!

    Thanks for posting, Peter. I took the liberty of reposting your link in the comments on my July Foliage Follow-Up post. —Pam