Impressive! Or is it?

I've been feeling a bit envious of my gardening friends in milder west coast climates, who live where nurseries and garden centers stay open and inviting all winter long. Weekend shopping trip for new plants? It's not something I get to enjoy here in St. Louis. The end of February is when they start ramping up though, and this past weekend a quest for some specific kale seeds gave me an excuse to visit a couple.



The first one didn't hold my interest with its limited selection of houseplants (they'll soon be buzzing though and I'll post about them), but the second -- Greenscape Gardens -- has a pretty great selection of things I'd need to grow indoors, including Agaves. The one above caught my eye first, with its crazy markings and white leaf margins.
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The color was a bit strange too, with some browns mixed in with the greens. At first I thought this was a desirable trait...


...but the more I looked at it, I thought that perhaps this was an indication of a distressed (or dying) agave.

Still what was it? 


The pot was labeled Agave impressa 'Impressive', but I don't trust plant labels so I snapped a photo and moved on. There were several more Agaves to see...



...which unfortunately were also labeled as Agave impressa 'Impressive'. I'm no agave expert, but even somebody who doesn't know anything about plants can tell that this is not the same as the plant in the first photo.


This one too was labeled as Agave impressa 'Impressive'. This is getting out of hand!

At least this one wasn't:


Agave 'Dragon Toes', although I can't say that I have much confidence in the label. It's quite nice, especially the teeth!


I should point out that each of these Agaves was the same price: $19.99. I believe these are all in 8" pots, with plants about 12" across if I remember correctly. There were some smaller ones that were $14.99 or $12.99, but most were this larger size. I should have included my hand in a shot for reference...

There was a really cool Aloe (or whatever this is)...


With pretty amazing texture everywhere:


Again, $19.99. I've seen this nursery's prices increase quite a bit over the last decade, but I don't really have much reference for non-hardy succulents.

Back to the Agaves, with several not labeled as 'Impressive':


That's Agave ochahui 'Wavy Gravy' (according to the tag). I like the thinner leaves, but not seeing what makes this "wavy".

Now a few with no labels at all:


This big one had really nice teeth!



This next one had really wonderful striation, more pronounced than that in the plant above, and was so blue:



So pretty!

This next one I wasn't too fond of -- something about the curling leaves didn't do it for me:


Maybe in a more mature plant those curves would be more exciting, but this one was at the bottom of my list I think, whatever it is.

On another table, another specimen with the white markings!


This one -- that I think is the actual 'Impressive' -- doesn't have the brownish foliage coloring, another reason I think the browner one is not doing too well.

Here's another shot of that first plant for comparison:


Does that look like a dying plant to you?

So although I think the first and last plants shown here are the real Agave impressa 'Impressive', I do wonder what all of the other ones are, and if $19.99 is a reasonable price. Please help in the comments!

And if anybody from Greenscape is reading this, please try to correct those labels!


BTW, Greenscape didn't have their seeds out yet, so I'll be going back on Saturday. Will I be coming home with an Agave or two? 

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Mark and Gaz  – (March 3, 2015 at 8:58 AM)  

I tend to shy away from giving agave ID's as they can be very tricky but definitely there are some mislabellings going on there. Still at $19.99 each for most of them they are actually good value for money considering their size! The 'impressive' agave I don't think is dying but is just stressed, likely to green up again with some water and repotting in the summer. Have to stay it does look rather pretty at the moment :)

outlawgardener  – (March 3, 2015 at 9:14 AM)  

These are mislabeled and are clearly "Assorted Succulents." Always trying to help:) Gerhard will probably know as he's an agave expert. Looking into my crystal ball, I see at least two agaves coming home with you on Saturday

Alan  – (March 3, 2015 at 10:56 AM)  

Mark/Gaz: that brownish 'Impressive' was just watered while the rest were dry, so somebody thought the same as you did. I wonder if I could get a discount if I convinced them it was unhealthy...

Peter: They actually had an "assorted succulents" section on another table. At least two? We'll see. I know one thing: it's no fun reaching in to these to try and turn a pot so the label is visible!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 3, 2015 at 1:43 PM)  

This is just as frustrating as the ubiquitous "Assorted succulents" label that Peter mentioned. Let me take a stab at sorting this out:

Plant #1 is definitely Agave impressa, as is the last plant. The markings are much better than my two impressas which have virtually no markings and are less than impressive. This is very wimpy agave, barely hardy here in zone 9b. The weird leaf color is from stress.

Plant #2 looks like a very nice specimen of Agave ‘Baccarat’, which is either a cultivar of Agave montana or a hybrid of it.

Plant #3 could be Agave pelona or maybe Agave chrysoglossa. I don’t know for sure.

Plant #4 is Agave ‘Dragon Toes’ (correct label), a selection of Agave pygmae.

Plant #5 is a Kelly Griffin aloe hybrid.

Plant #6 is Agave ocahui (correct).

Plant #7 is Agave mitis (aka celsii).

Plant #8 is Agave ‘Blue Flame’.

Plant #8: no clue but not very attractive.

danger garden  – (March 3, 2015 at 4:13 PM)  

Oh that kind of labeling nonsense drives me mad! I've never seen an Agave impressa (the real one) and really like the leaf markings. As for your potential purchase I'm going with 2 agaves and an aloe. What the heck.

Alan  – (March 3, 2015 at 4:44 PM)  

Gerhard: Thank you! So are any of those worth paying $20 for? Some of them -- including the 'Impressive' -- had pups if I remember correctly.

Loree: the markings are quite amazing... pretty sure I'll be picking one of those up. Two plus an aloe might not be a bad bet... :)

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 3, 2015 at 6:34 PM)  

Alan, I'm partial to 'Blue Flame' and to 'Baccarat' or lookalike. The 2nd A. impressa was nice too!!

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