50 Shades of Pink|Hardy Agaves|Repot Succulents

July 26th, 2012 Posted in Agave celsii, Crinum lilies, annuals, bees, garden design, lawn replace, plant propagation, succulents, trees

50 shades of pink dominate my garden this week. Okay, well maybe only 10 or so. The most grandiose is the crinum.

Pink crinum lovely

The tiniest is my new Phlox paniculata ‘John Fanick’. It’s been on my list for years! When I ran into some in May, I nabbed them faster than a bunny on a banana. And they won’t be that tiny next year. Every day, I drive by some that are just under 2′ feet tall, in blasting heat, blooming like nuts.

Phlox paniculata 'John Fanick'

Speaking of bunnies, evergreen small shrub Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) droops over a garden sign my sister-in-law gave me years ago, when I never dreamed of having a bunny.  Now, house bunnies Harvey & Gaby like cuttings for snack time.  Edible for us, too! Hummingbirds hone in on the flowers.

Mexican oregano flowers

Most romantic:  plumeria. I have them in large pots to bring to patio-covered warmth in winter.

Pink plumeria

These are quite xeric plants if you want some “container bold.” They like to go dry between infrequent waterings. I’ve noted that too much sun can cause sun scald. This year I moved them to a spot where they get sun, but relief from hot afternoon blasts, and they’ve been much happier. Of course, summer 2011 was a little brutal.

pink plumeria

Annual angelonias can take the heat and all the sun in the world. My purples in sunny spots deepen the palette.


In semi-shade, annual but re-seeding Salvia coccineas sweetly flower against Agave celsii.

Salvia coccinea with Agave celsii

My celsii took a hit in our two sharp winters, but has rallied. Since hardy agaves are lovely textural additions to the waterwise garden, this week Tom joins Bob Barth, founding member of the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society, to look at a few.

Tom Spencer and Bob Barth

An important point that Bob makes is the big mistake among new agave gardeners: at the nursery, they see three pots like this.

silver agaves, Central Texas Gardener

Two will stay under 30”: Agave parryi var. truncata and Agave parrasana.  One, Whale’s Tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia), will get really big! Here’s Bob’s list with sizes and offset tendency.

We didn’t have time to mention two on his list for shade. The variegated one is Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’, now on my list!

Agaves for shade
The other is Squid agave (Agave bracteosa). I have ‘Calamar’ in a pot, a gift from designer Patrick Kirwin.

Squid agave, Agave bracteosa
Another is in grit-amended clay soil with ‘Blackie’ sweet potato vine nearby.

Squid agave with 'Blackie' sweet potato vine

Both of these squids get “psycho lighting,” shade a lot of the day and blasting afternoon sun for a few hours. They handle it just fine, along with freeze, flood, and drought.

Bob Barth was the man who introduced me to agaves way back when. One I got from him is Agave striata, still in a pot. I’ve considered amending the soil enough to let it go free in the ground. At the same time, although this is a smaller agave, its enforced restriction is just about right for me in this spot.

Agave striata, blackfoot daisy, 'Hotlips' salvia
Now I want to add A. striata ‘Live Wires’, one of Bob’s featured plants on CTG. In sun, its leaves can turn lavender. Oh, must have!

Agave striata 'Live Wires'
One of the first I bought from Bob was Agave gemniflora. It’s been my favorite patio plant in part shade since then. It’s not cold hardy but has made it through 14° in our patio winter greenhouse. I almost never water it.

Agave gemniflora
Jeff Pavlat, also a member of the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society, who’s found a great teacher in Bob, too (and now his assistant in Bob’s private nursery, Oracle Gorge),takes on Backyard Basics this week to demonstrate how to repot spiky cacti and succulents. Here’s Jeff’s potting mixture.

Jeff Pavlat repot cacti and succulents
You can meet them both and lots of neat plants at the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society Show and Sale on Sept. 1 and 2 at Zilker Botanical Garden.

So, can even our hardy plants, like succulents, be sun scalded? Indeed, they can! This week Daphne explains what happens.

My Sedum mexicana isn’t thrilled about the grueling spot I gave it.

Sedum mexicana sun scald

The ones I have in a morning sun patio pot (and that self-propagated in a bed nearby) are much richer in color and more prolific.

Back to the pink theme, Daphne’s Pick of the Week is Ruby crystals grass (Melinis nerviglumis) ‘Pink Crystals’. Thanks to Jennifer Stocker for this picture.  She has the most incredible garden and equally outstanding blog, Rock Rose!

Ruby crystals grass (c) Jenny Stocker

On tour in San Antonio, see how Richard Blocker from the San Antonio Cactus & Xerophyte Society swapped lawn for hardy cacti and succulents and how he protects his succulents from sun scald.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

  1. 25 Responses to “50 Shades of Pink|Hardy Agaves|Repot Succulents”

  2. By Tina on Jul 26, 2012

    Pretty in pink! All are so pretty. That ‘Pink Crystals’ especially so–the photo is lovely. I’ve never been able to grow the Mexican oregano successfully, but it’s beautiful by your bunny crossing and in the Green Garden at ZBG.


    Linda reply on July 26th, 2012 5:46 pm:

    Tina, I’ll get in touch with you offline about Mexican oregano!


  3. By Kathleen Scott on Jul 26, 2012

    Lovely! I’ve taken to putting a link to your weekly post on our garden club’s Facebook page so everyone gets a look.


    Linda reply on July 27th, 2012 3:02 pm:

    Dear Kathleen, how so very kind of you!!


  4. By Bernieh on Jul 26, 2012

    Gorgeous pinks! Those Mexican Oregano flowers are so sweet, but it was the Plumeria blooms that steal the show for me. Great selection of Agaves featured today. Loved Agave gemniflora.


    Linda reply on July 27th, 2012 3:01 pm:

    Thank you, Bernieh! Oh, I’m adding even more of those agaves to my garden!


  5. By Shirley Dehmer on Jul 26, 2012

    Daphne, Look on pages 44 and 45 in the brand new August issue of the Southern Living Magazine. My Mystery plant is on the far right side on page 44 and on the far left side of page 45. The lobes or fingers on the leaves of my tree are skinnier. Same plant or at least same family. The lobes are not quite so wide on mine, but same shape. What the heck is that bugger? It is a striking looking tree and I want to keep it if it is worth keeping. I hope I’m not bugging you by continuing to bring up my mystery tree, but I am so curious about it. It really is pretty and unusual. I like it. I live in an apartment in an old age community in Marble Falls. This tree came up on its own and is probably about ten or eleven inches away from the sidewalk (I wouldn’t have planted it that close to the sidewalk). Someone broke the top out of it early on. I wouldn’t have done that either, because of course it branched out on three sides of the break. I trimmed all but one of them off and let it shoot upward. It is branching out again toward the top and I’m afraid the landscape people will cut it out of there. I’m going to prune it again so they will ignore it. Hopefully. It chose the perfect place to grow because it gets plenty of water there and plenty of sun. It will also shade my porch on the hottest side. Other people here have grown Fig Trees that are quite large now and Texas Mountain Laural that gets about 25 feet tall. Since those have been allowed to live, I’m hoping that no one will cut my tree down. I hope you can tell me the name of it. Thanks a million. Shirley Dehmer


    Linda reply on July 27th, 2012 3:01 pm:

    Hi, Shirley! I don’t have S. Living. what they did call the plant?


  6. By sergioniebla on Jul 26, 2012

    Congratulations to Carol & Richard for their beautiful garden …. I really like the trails and plants


    Linda reply on July 27th, 2012 3:00 pm:

    They did a beautiful job, that’s for sure!


  7. By jenny on Jul 27, 2012

    Pink and shades of pink were always my favorite colors in the garden but gardening in Texas has made me be less selective. The crinum is gorgeous. Is this a plant that stays int he ground all year? I love the A. striata ‘live wire’ We’ll be shopping for that one together.


    Linda reply on July 27th, 2012 2:59 pm:

    Hi, Jenny! Yikes, meant to send you the links. Will do so tonight. Yes, my crinums are in the ground. They usually freeze back but return quickly.


    jenny reply on July 27th, 2012 9:36 pm:

    Believe it or not we saw the same crinums flowering today at the Grand Junction Botanical Garden. They were in the shade of a desert willow and needed to be. It was soooooo hot there. Thanks for the links. Unfortunately I seem to have no sound on my video!


    Linda reply on July 28th, 2012 1:56 pm:

    Hi, Jenny! Wow, that’s wonderful! And what a great combination of crinum and desert willow.

    I’ll go check that link. I may have messed something up.

  8. By Desert Dweller / David C. on Jul 28, 2012

    Nice to hear about those hardy agaves, including ones I need to use more. (missing the A. striata I had, before violent winds tore it apart) But Pavlat’s cacti potting soil mix and topdress is quite the demo for the spiky plant fan, no matter the experience level!


    Linda reply on July 28th, 2012 1:56 pm:

    And Jeff made it look so easy!


  9. By Diana/Sharing Nature's Garden on Jul 31, 2012

    Wow. I love all those pinks and agaves in your garden — they are beautiful. You pink plumeria is amazing. All mine are yellow and I covet the pink. Thank goodness for the agaves in the August heat.


    Linda reply on July 31st, 2012 5:53 pm:

    I had a yellow once and I adored it. But I couldn’t keep it warm enough when we hit 14 degrees! Yes, thank goodness for the agaves and yuccas in this heat.


  10. By Debbie Holland on Aug 8, 2012


    I love receiving your photos and notes weekly. Have a question regarding Chili Pequin’s. I live in Hutto and over the last several years am finding the plants coming up in various spots in the yard. Question is that the pepers are black when they ripen and not red. Is this a different variety? I’m cautious about using them as I have never seen black ones and haven’t found anything online about them. Thanks for your help. Debbie


    Linda reply on August 8th, 2012 1:17 pm:

    Hi, Debbie! Let me see what I can find out!


    Linda reply on August 8th, 2012 2:04 pm:

    Hi, Debbie, I checked with Mick Vann, expert on all things peppers. He’s familiar with that plant but can’t recall the exact name. Indeed, poisonous. Probably not fatal but he wouldn’t eat them!


  11. By Pam/Digging on Aug 16, 2012

    I have a Quadricolor pup coming up beside a mother plant right now, Linda. Do you want it?


    Linda reply on August 17th, 2012 2:55 pm:



  12. By Abbey on May 16, 2014

    Thanks for the note on the squid agave’s performance in you psycho-light. I’m planning to put some into a bed aganist the foundation that gets NW sun, in other words, shade until about 2-3 pm and then hot west sun the rest of the day. It’s hard to find plants that can pull that off.
    Right now, I’m researching squid agave, firecraker fern and a tbd compact salvia greggii.


    Linda reply on May 16th, 2014 4:17 pm:

    Yea, Abbey! Firecracker fern is so fun, too. I’ve not seen a compact S. greggii, but you can keep them fairly compact by pruning in Jan/Feb, May, and Sept. Promotes more blooms, too.


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