Agave Attenuata is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae. The plant is commonly known as 'Foxtail', a name that refers to its development of a curved inflorescence, which is unusual among agaves. It’s native to central Mexico in the state of Jalisco where it produces long, curved flower stalks with greenish-yellow flower color. This one grows in Spain, near Calpe.
Agave Attenuata or Foxtail Agave
Some time ago, a garden in Spain, looked like this. Woooooow, a Foxtail Agave - what a great plant, and what a flower! Foxtail Agave gets its name from the dramatic flower stalks produced by mature plants. Single Foxtail Agave plants will grow 1 to 1.5 meters in size and produce many small plants around the base to form large clumping colonies.
How Agave Attenuata Got the Name Foxtail?
The arching flower stalk curves back towards the ground and sometimes feature a second arch, resembling a foxtail. The Foxtail Agave produces many 'suckers' or offshoots. These offshoots increase the clumping of the foliage, resulting in thicker growth. When the inflorescence blooms, the flower stalk features small, greenish-yellow petals. These flowers eventually fall and are replaced by seed pods, making Agave Attenuatta propagation easy.
This Foxtail Agave plant is valued in many landscapes for its pale-bluish to yellow-green leaves that are soft, fleshy, and without spines on the margins or tips. Most plants grow for many years before flowering and can develop 50-100 centimeters-tall trunks. Thousands of small yellow and cream-colored flowers mature on 3-5 meters long arching flower stalks. Flowering occurs among plants in late fall, winter, and spring, and provides a dramatic floral display for 1-2 months.
How to Grow and Take Care of the Foxtail Agave?
Agave Attenuata or Foxtail Agave needs protection from harsh winter cold and grows best with low to very low amounts of supplemental water throughout summer. From a landscape perspective, the Foxtail Agave plant is a highly versatile accent and special interest one. It grows well in containers, on banks, and as a solitary specimen or grouped for mass effect. It can be combined with the Mediterranean and Southwestern plant palettes. Several attractive gray-blue foliage cultivars are available from different nurseries.
Do Foxtail Agaves Die After Flowering?
Agave Attenuata typically blooms once in its lifetime, which can take anywhere from 10 to 25 years, depending on the conditions in which it's grown.
How Much Water and Fertilizer Does the Agave Attenuata Need?
The Agave Foxtail has low water needs. It is drought-tolerant and only requires occasional watering to keep the ground from completely drying out. Luckily, it’s hard to overwater the Foxtail Agave plant. During the summer growing season apply a balanced liquid fertilizer to the Agave Attenuata. In general, the plant requires little additional fertilizing. During the summer, thoroughly water the plant about once per week. As the temperature cools, you should need to water it less frequently. In fact, during the winter, you hardly need to water the plant at all. When watering, you don’t need to water the leaves. For potted plants water the soil thoroughly and allow the water to drain completely. Do not allow the plant to sit in water.
Foxtail Soil and Transplanting Needs
To care for an Agave Attenuata it means that it should be grown in sandy well-drained soil mixed with lots of gravel. The soil should offer good drainage and remain dry most of the time. However, the Foxtail Attenuata can be planted in almost any soil that offers good drainage. The sandy soil just makes it easier to ensure that the soil will drain well.
Note: It’s also important to avoid planting it in an area that gets a lot of strong breezes or cold temperatures.
When planting multiple plants in the landscape, keep them about eight feet apart. This offers enough space for the plants to reach their maximum spread of eight feet. You should also use caution when transplanting. The Foxtail Agave doesn’t hold up well to sudden changes in lighting. Transplanting plants from partial shade to full sun may burn the leaves.
When placing it in a container or pot, the plant does not need a deep pot. The root structure doesn’t go very deep. While the plant still grows in deep soil, it’s simply a waste of soil. The soil should also be replaced every two years when the plant is planted in a container or pot. You can remove the offsets when transplanting or repotting, especially if they’re crowding the mother plant.
How To Propagate The Foxtail Agave
It's possible to collect the seed pods. Remove the pods in the spring or summer and let them dry for several days. The agave seeds germinate when fresh and should be placed in good potting soil.Agave Attenuata or Foxtail Agave can also be propagated through offsets, which are small plants that grow from the base of the parent plant. Here are the steps to propagate the Agave Attenuata:
- Wait until the offsets are at least 6 inches tall and have their own set of leaves.
- Using a sharp, clean knife, cut the offset from the parent plant as close to the base as possible.
- Allow the cut end of the offset to dry for a few days to prevent rotting.
- Prepare a well-draining potting mix using a combination of cactus mix and perlite.
- Plant the offset in the potting mix, burying the base of the plant about 1 inch deep.
- Water the plant thoroughly and place it in a bright, sunny location.
- Allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again, as this Agave plant prefers well-drained soil and can be prone to rot if overwatered.
- The new plant should begin to establish itself within a few weeks and will eventually grow into a mature Agave Attenuata over several years.
It's important to note that Agave Attenuata is a slow-growing plant, so be patient and avoid overwatering or over-fertilizing, as this can harm the plant.