Monday, March 8, 2010

Agave 'Blue Glow'

On rainy days (and the subsequent muddy days), I try to find garden tasks that don't involve working outside or in the yard's wet soil.  Today I potted my first Agave plant (Agave 'Blue Glow').  I decided to place it into a pot to help me control both its watering and sunshine (i.e. chase around the few patches of sun in my yard).  This Agave appealed to me as a listing on Dave's Garden (my absolute favorite plant website) mentions it will do fine in all-day filtered shade (and, by golly, that I can supply!).

Thought I'd list my potting process.  Doubt if there is anything very new in my methods - but just felt like sharing (in case someone spots me doing something crazy or has any suggestions for improvement).

Following a tip from John Dromgoole (a regular on Central Texas Gardener), I previously purchased a small roll of fiberglass screen (carried at any hardware store; one roll will last me years).  I trim off a piece about the size of the bottom of my pot.

This gets placed in the bottom of the pot to help prevent ants (or any other multi-legged critters) from gaining easy access into the pot from below.  You'd think the ants would just climb up the side - but that really hasn't been a problem.

I'm not real fond of lugging around heavy pots (though I seem to have to do it a lot anyway).  So a couple of years back, instead of using rocks or pottery fragments to provide drainage, I came up with the idea of using packing peanuts!

I place a 1-2 inch layer across the bottom and then add some dirt over them.  Keeps the pot lighter but still provides the needed air pockets for drainage.

Then I remove the plant from its original pot and break up the matted roots, both along the bottom and the sides.  Depending on how root bound the plant has become, this shredding can range from mild to significant.

The plant is then placed into the pot (adding extra dirt underneath to ensure the plant is at the correct height).  Additional dirt is then placed around the plant and firmly packed in.

I always top off the dirt with some type of "cover".  For succulents, this is typically some type of rocks or pebbles.  For most other plants, it will be some type of mulch.

Will be placing my Agave 'Blue Glow' out on the deck where it can gather some of our predicted sun tomorrow.


  1. Great tip about the mesh :) I have problems with ants setting up shop in my pots, maybe that would discourage them :D

  2. A practical solution to solve problems with ants.. ~bangchik

  3. Hi RBell,

    If only John Dromgoole had bought stock in a screen company before handing out that tip he wouldn't have to work so hard! I learned it from him, too and it's made a big difference.

    My garden is also in NW Austin, but we seem to have different soil conditions - pecans grow in my neighborhood and when we dig we find many smaller rocks rather than a limestone layer.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. I always mean to put mesh in the bottoms of my pots, but then I get lazy or forget. It's a good tip though, and I love that Blue Glow agave. Let us know how it performs over time, will you?