Some gardeners find tropical plants intimidating. Succulents in particular tend to have unusual requirements, and gardeners sometimes worry about the plants harming pets if eaten. The Agave attenuata is a tropical plant that is actually quite easy to care for in a backyard garden. Once homeowners discover how easy it is to properly care for the Agave attenuata, the plant becomes even more appealing, whether positioned in a lawn plot or placed in a container on the patio.
Agave attenuata is one of several species of Agave that are native to Mexico. The plant is commonly known as a Fox Tail Agave. Swan's Neck or Dragon Tree Agave, and grows to a height of approximately 3.3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 m). It is a succulent, so its leaves are rubbery and puff up when the plant has plenty of water. The leaves vary in color from soft green to bright blue green or even yellow and green striped. Unlike some other Agave plants, the Fox Tail Agave does not have dangerous spines on its leaves.
Fox Tail Agave is a particularly showy plant, even without blooms. It grows in a rosette shape that packs a lot of visual interest. It looks great in modern gardens, desert gardens, and around tropical plants. Since it does not have prickly spines, the plant poses little threat to animals and small children.
Gardeners can plant Fox Tail Agave directly in the ground or in a container. Pots and planters are easy to move around gardens that have changing light conditions. When planting the Agave in the ground, homeowners should choose an area that gets plenty of sunlight.
Gardeners should make a hole about the same depth as the container the Fox Tail Agave originally came in. This keeps from shocking the plant. Once it is in the ground, gardeners should pat fill dirt lightly around the plant and water it well. The same rules apply for containers or ground plots.
Fox Tail Agave is a sturdy plant that tolerates both under and overwatering well. For optimal growth, Fox Tail Agave needs a thorough watering once a week during warm weather, particularly if it receives full sunlight. A thorough dousing every other week or so via a watering can is fine for plants in partial sun or during cooler weather. Indoor Agave plants may need less frequent watering, depending on the humidity levels indoors.
A desert plant, Fox Tail Agave thrives in high temperatures, and it grows well at room temperature. It can even tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius), although it does not thrive when temperatures are that low for long periods of time. If the plant is in a container, home gardeners should move the plant inside during extended periods of cold.
During times of growth, Fox Tail Agave can withstand a small amount of balanced liquid fertilizer, but most of the time the plant does not need additional fertilizing. After several years, the soil becomes depleted of nutrients, and gardeners should refresh it. This is particularly important for potted Fox Tail Agave.
When swapping soil, gardeners should check the plant's root ball to make sure the roots are not bound. If the plant has not received fertilizer recently, the gardener can add a small amount when repotting the plant. Otherwise, no additional fertilizer is necessary for the plant to thrive.
Older Fox Tail Agave start to send out suckers from the bottom of the plant. This is how the Fox Tail Agave propagates itself. When these start appearing, gardeners should remove them from the plant and let them dry thoroughly before planting them in another location, such as a clay pot on a windowsill or in the garden itself. Fox Tail Agaves tend to grow suckers during spring and summer. Those who are not interested in planting suckers to create additional Agave plants can either leave the suckers in place or compost them.
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