Seven years ago, when we moved into our last rental, there were two small agave plants on either side of the front external staircase.
Seven years later, those tiny agaves had grown into huge clusters. They required absolutely zero effort from us. We did nothing to them – didn’t specifically water them, feed them, prune them or anything. They just took care of themselves.
That, for us, is an ideal plant.
So when we went to move from the rental to our first home, I decided to take some cuttings to propagate in our new garden, leaving behind more than was there when me moved in, of course.
Yeah, it looks like we took a lot, but there was only one head on each side when we moved in.
After some research, I discovered there was some debate as to how to acquire agave cuttings. Some people say take the whole plant, roots and all. Some say to wiggle the ‘pup’ off the ‘mother’. Some say to chop them off with a saw.
All techniques had varying success, from what I could ascertain. So I guessed it didn’t really matter – it’d be a 50/50 any way.
I used a garden saw to carve the pups off the mother (well, I say that like I know what I’m talking about, but I just sawed a bunch of heads off the base).
I did, admittedly, get a bit saw-happy. The Hammerlings were carrying the cuttings to line them up for me on the other side of the driveway, and it was a bit of a shock when I realised just how many heads I had cut off when they were all lined up in a row. Fourteen, to be specific.
They are easy to saw, but the larger heads are quite heavy, considering. Maybe a couple of kilos each?
We stacked them in the tray of my ute and drove them to our house, where we then laid them out on a hill to await planting.
Five weeks later, they are still waiting attention. I cannot decide where to put them, and I’m too cheap to buy fourteen plant-pots at around $15 a piece.
This waiting time is testament to their hardiness. They have wilted just a little, and some of the outer ‘leaves’ have died, but they’re still alive, and shooting off roots in search of water.
One thorough rainfall has seen all of them perk up considerably.
I did want to run them around one of our front yard gardens, a project I had anticipated getting stuck into quickly. But time inevitably wears on, and more pressing projects (or quicker, less labour-intensive projects) are attended to in the meantime.
So what we have done for now is just pop them in the ground. They are not in their ‘forever’ homes, but they’ll be happier with their roots in dirt than out in the elements, searching for nutrients, right?
So this is the start of The Ultimate Agave Transplanting Experiment (don’t scoff – it totally is). When it comes time to move them to their ‘forever’ homes, we will uproot the entire plant. If it takes a while, we may even have pups growing, so if that happens, we’ll even wiggle a few free and see how they fare.
So, what is the agave good for?
Aside from being drought resistant, unspeakably hardy, and maintenance free, Agave plants can have their nectar bled for a sweetener to be used in place of sugar (there is debate as to how healthy agave syrup is compared to regular sugar), and some species (the blue agave) are used in the production of tequila. A certain worm lives within the blue agave, and this is the worm that is sometimes found in certain tequilas as a mark of how good/healthy (can tequila be considered ‘healthy?)/palatable that bottle of tequila is, depending on the condition of the worm.
How did we plant them?
Mr Hammer used a shovel and crow bar to dig small holes in a slight ridge on our property. Some of the agaves were small with small stems, some were big with small stems, some small with big stems and some big with big stems.
Yes, that does all make sense.
This is what we ended with.
There will be a Part Two to this post, though realistically not for a while.
Because we have discovered the master bedroom is quite visible to neighbours on the other side of the street, we’ll be first concentrating our tree/hedge/privacy/garden efforts on that.
Have you ever made anything with your agaves? Let us know how you did, and with what success!