Keeping up with the Joneses

I have a lot of gardener friends. Not as many as some people, but quite a few. Although a few of them live in the St. Louis area, most of them live in different parts of the country in completely different climates -- which makes some of their blog posts a challenge to read for me. Sometimes it's the talk (and photos) of really wonderful plants that I've never heard of, when I'll sort of nod and think "ah, nice plant" but then put it out of my mind. If it's a zone 7 or 8 woody plant, I can't grow it (probably) so why torture myself thinking about it?

At other times though the talk (or photos) of these not-for-my-climate plants really gets to me, and I feel jealous: I want to grow those too! This is the case with many succulents: Agaves, Aloes, Cactus. When Gerhard (Succulents and More) or Gail (Piece of Eden) or Loree (Danger Garden) start talking succulents, I go a bit green -- not in the way that gardeners are supposed to -- and feel left out. Until now that is.


It started six or eight weeks ago, when I received an email that started in a familiar way: "I Googled (something about plants) and found your blog." Instead of continuing on with "Can you tell me (what's wrong with my plant, where to find a plant)..." as many of them do -- which I'm happy to answer by the way -- this one said "I live in the St. Louis area and I'm wondering if you would like some huge potted Agaves and other succulents that I'm tired of overwintering."

Before I go further with this, let me explain that even though I tried growing some cold-hardy Agaves recently, it's a challenge with the amount of winter moisture we get. So every year I think "I should grow some in pots and move them somewhere drier for the winter". It's never top of my mind during the spring, and later in the summer I rarely think about adding more plants, and fall seems like the wrong time to be potting up new Agaves and the like, just to stick them in the garage or under lights indoors. So I never add any of these plants, even though I really want to.

Back to the story. Since it was a busy summer for me, I did send a reply saying that I was interested, but would get back to her later once things calmed down. A few more emails over the next several weeks, lots of photos sent to entice, and I had agreed to take a few plants home.

Elaine was almost as excited as I was I think, especially when we actually started carrying pots to the truck.

As you can see from these photos of my vehicle, I took more than "a few", and these were not the typical "baby" plants that plant people usually share with each other. These were specimens, mature plants that immediately grab your eye (some literally). I went from a succulent-envying gardener to a succulent gardener in the time it took to move a few heavy pots into the truck.

The thing is, I know the details of only a few of these plants -- the rest of them I'm going to need help identifying. If you can help with IDs, please do!

Let's start with the bird of paradise:

0. What species of bird of paradise is this? (edit: probably Strelitzia nicolai)

Does anybody have a guess on the species? I may have this info in an email from Elaine, but I'm not sure.

Some of the pots were barely holding together and needed some help when going horizontal:

But many of them were perfect (and beautiful!). Almost all of them were heavy though, so my dolly really came in handy when unloading:

My dolly has 12" diameter wheels to give you scale

I love the pattern the stems form!

Next, the Agaves...

1. edit: Mangave ‘Bloodspot’. Hybrid between Mangave maculosa and Agave macroacantha.

1. I really love these spots!

2. edit: Possibly Agave mitis var. mitis? or Agave 'Burnt Burgundy'?

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'. Love this one!

3. edit: Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’

Saved the big one for last...

4. edit: Agave desmettiana?  This one is huge. (that's sunlight on the leaves)

Now some Aloes. This is such a big and pretty Aloe vera, I couldn't resist even though it's quite common (I have one in my kitchen window, but not this size):

edit: Aloe barbadensis (aka Aloe vera) and Kalanchoe luciae?

What's the disc-forming succulent sharing the pot?

Another aloe...

6. Aloe? needs ID
6. dozens of pups need more room!

Elaine had more aloes, but my truck was full.

Finally, we get to the one plant that was most exciting to me...

This Pachypodium lamerei. Elaine said it was big, and it certainly is!

It wants to be repotted, but is already over 7' (2m) tall, so I'm a little worried about doing that.

This is not going to be easy to get into the house.

This was surprisingly easy to move, wrapped in a blanket. At least in the open space of outdoors. Indoors though, more of a challenge I think.

Beautiful branching structure...

...and beautiful, spiky trunk:

Pups waiting to grow:

I'm still trying to work out where in the house this and all of the others will go, but some will be in windows, while others will stay in the basement under lights.

Great way to fill in some late-season gaps near the front door! (I had a dream that a deer took a bite out of the spiky trunk!)

There are at least a dozen more plants that I may take or help find a home for -- Elaine was serious about getting rid of all of these! I even got a Gaura that survived last winter in a pot, and a small Ensete that I'll happily add to the garden next year:

So succulent-loving friends, let's talk! I'm one of you now, and am ready to start paying more attention now.

Thank you Elaine! Gardeners are such generous people!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 20, 2014 at 9:47 AM)  

This is the kind of plant haul that the word "wow" was invented for. WOW. You score big time. Thanks to Elaine's generosity, you now have an instant collection! And it's not common plants either. You have some real gems.

Let me take a stab at IDing them.

Bird of paradise: Looks like Strelitzia nicolai to me.

Agave 1: Mangave ‘Bloodspot’. It’s what’s blooming in my front yard. Hybrid between Mangave maculosa and Agave macroacantha.

Agave 2: Could be Agave mitis var. mitis.

Agave after #2: Yes, Agave weberi ‘Arizona Star’. This one is quite rare.

Agave 3: Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’

Agave 4: I’d tentatively say Agave desmettiana (non variegated)

Your aloes are hard to ID. The first one #5 is Aloe barbensis but the other one could be a number of things, possibly even a gasteraloe.

Your Madascar palm is probably Pachypodium lamerei.

I can't wait to see where they'll go!

Alan  – (October 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM)  

So the one that I called "Aloe vera" isn't actually Aloe vera? Elaine said it was, even though it looks a bit different (nicer) than my Aloe vera.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 20, 2014 at 10:37 AM)  

Alan, the botanical name of "aloe vera" is actually Aloe barbadensis. It's the same plant though.

outlawgardener  – (October 20, 2014 at 1:26 PM)  

Yowsa! How generous of Elaine! It's great that she found a good home for the plants she was tired of moving rather than just leaving them outside to die. I hope you're very happy together for years to come.

Mark and Gaz  – (October 20, 2014 at 2:27 PM)  

Wow, they are gorgeous plants and instant impact sizes too! The generosity of other gardeners never fails to amaze :)

danger garden  – (October 21, 2014 at 12:36 AM)  

As Gerhard said...WOW! Lucky you. He did a great job with all the ID's, I think there may still be a couple of questions, I'll look tomorrow morning when I'm on my laptop and typing/research is easier. So what is Elaine's garden like? Or is it all potted and thus all going away?

Welcome to the club!

Alan  – (October 21, 2014 at 7:25 AM)  

Gerhard: thanks for the help on IDs. I'll edit the post to add these.

Loree: There were lots more potted plants than in-ground plantings in Elaine's garden. This could have been a result of downsizing it over the last few years.

danger garden  – (October 21, 2014 at 10:50 AM)  

Might "#2 Agave mitis var. mitis?" actually be A. ‘Burnt Burgundy’? I have one and it looks a lot like yours. Also the Crassula of some kind in with the Aloe is a Kalanchoe, possibly Kalanchoe luciae without color.

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (October 21, 2014 at 10:55 AM)  

Neat Christmas tree.

Congratulations to Elaine for her generosity
And to you on your new plants!

Heather  – (October 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM)  

This is how I got my first agaves, too. Gardeners rock, congrats!

Alan  – (October 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM)  

Heather: from Elaine in St. Louis? You should have stopped by! ;P

Loree: Thanks for the corrections and suggestions. I've updated the post. I don't have an eye yet to see some of the subtle differences.

Maywyn: at least the cats would not be able to reach the ornaments. :)

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 21, 2014 at 9:44 PM)  

Kalanchoe luciae sounds plausible. Definitely kalanchoe or crassula.

Burnt Burgundy: I have two, and they are a much darker color (blue-gray) and the leaves are stiffer. But the leaf color often varies based on sun exposure...

danger garden  – (October 22, 2014 at 10:05 PM)  

Gerhard you definitely have better sun exposure than I, I'm not sure how it compares to that of St. Louis. Perhaps (if I remember) I'll take a photo of mine tomorrow and email it to the both of you. (pls remind me if I forget!)

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