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AGAVE colorata

Image of Agave colorata

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Agavaceae

Botanical Name

AGAVE colorata

Plant Common Name

Coastal Agave, Coastal Century Plant

General Description

Rich powder blue coloring, modest size and a cast iron constitution make this little known species perfect for arid landscapes. The plant originates in the dry coastal regions of Sonora, Mexico but is also found at higher elevations of Sinaloa where it is tolerant of occasional cold snaps. Wild plants prefer to dwell in rocky elevated positions or in sandy, gravelly soils. Leaves are stiff, wide and covered with a tough skin that’s markedly rough to the touch. This coarse durable skin gives the plant added drought resistance and bears the interesting impressed outlines of toothed leaves formerly packed into the plant’s central cone. The prominent black teeth that line the leaves and spiky tips add a great deal of close interest to these plants.

Where hardy, this Agave is a one-time-bloomer that flowers after fifteen years. In spring it produces a tall branched spike that bears large clusters of up to three hundred bright yellow flowers. These are highly attractive to hummingbirds, a variety of insects, and even bats. The plants produce just a few offsets later in life, and can even form a short stout trunk, but should be largely considered a ground dwelling rosette-forming plant. The minimal offsetting of this Agave limited propagation, which is why plants were considered rare until the last decade or so. Demand for drought resistant succulents has spurred growers to increase availability, but this species still remains costly.

Fast draining soil is essential to success as is full sun, although some afternoon shade will produce a better plant in the low desert. This drought resistant species requires minimal watering and is known to survive in areas with little rain. Despite its wickedly sharp tips, this Agave is an exceptional plant for small desert gardens seeking unique coloring in foliage. It is also a graphic delight and therefore lovely in containers; if the container has ample drainage holes and very porous, sharp sand potting soil. For the desert gardener, modern designer, or collector of colorful succulents, this blue agave is a treasure to plant front and center in large and not so large spaces.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    2b, 3a, 3b, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    24"-30" / 61.0cm - 76.2cm

  • Width

    24"-30" / 61.0cm - 76.2cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Blue, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No