Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Monthly Archives: November 2014

Agave Flower – Preservation

Agave plant with shootOur last agave along the street, shot up its flower this summer. Early on, my husband and I were betting on how tall it would get. It seemed to be growing a foot every few days. Luckily, it grew up straight and tall and did not grow that high – only about 8-10 feet high. As it neared the end of its life, the flowers spent, I wanted to do something so I could save the agave flower stalk. I googled around and found very, very few ideas. The Master Gardener in Arizona suggested cutting it off and putting it in your garden surrounded by rocks so it could serve as a home for bees. Mr. Smarty Plants from the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center also entertained some similar questions. Mr. Plants indicated that you wouldn’t want to cut the stalk while it is blooming because the whole plant would die all the sooner, and you’d be removing the longevity of the flowers which are food for all sorts of insects. Well, I waited until my agave stalk had flowered and the whole plant was decaying in on itself. I thought burying the cut stalk in the garden Agave stalk cut(surrounded by rocks) could be a cool idea. But we felt we’d need a pretty deep hole. These agave stalks are HEAVY. Instead I decided to cut it and put it in a vase of sorts with rocks. This proved to be somewhat difficult to find the right container. But ultimately I bought a clear glass, large vase from Michael’s (on sale for $15). We cut the stalk off, put it in the jar on a bed of moss (also purchased at Michael’s) and carefully dropped rocks in all around the stalk. We had the rocks extra from other landscaping projects. I chose to put it on our upper balcony. Here’s what it looks like:

Agave PreservedRock containeragave containerThe gardenerRemoving the agave took some heft, but it wasn’t too bad since it was dead.

I planted a Mexican Red Bud tree in its place.

Mexican Red Bud Tree

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