Manfreda maculosa, or Deciduous Agave, is a low growing perennial native to Southern Texas and Mexico. The rosette of thin soft, fleshy sword shape leaves grows to 1 foot (30 cm) long by 0.75 inches (2 cm) wide. The concave, glaucous leaves are curiously spotted with purple to chocolate brown spots. Plants only reach about 1 foot (30 cm) tall. They are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 7-9.
Blooming: In mid to late spring in the greenhouse, the plant blooms on an up to 6 foot (~2 m) tall spike. The whitish to green flowers are up to 2 inches (5.1 cm) long and are mildly fragrant.
Culture: Manfreda maculosa need full sun to partial shade with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 2 parts sand or perlite. Small gravel is added to ensure good drainage. Even though the plants are very drought tolerant in the landscape (the plant dies back to the ground in severe droughts), in containers they need a bit more water than in the landscape. Plants are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. They are fertilized monthly during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. Since the plant has a rather large root system, the container should be at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep. During the winter months, the plants should be allowed to dry and should be stored in a cold room at 48°F (9° C). Plants are watered only enough to keep the foliage from shriveling.
Propagation: Manfreda maculosa are propagated by the removal of offsets and from fresh seed. Fresh seed germinate in 7- 21 days at 68-72°F (19-22°C).
Manfreda maculosa was featured as Plant of the Week June 3-9, 2005.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.