Agave parryi | Parry’s Agave Plant Care

Agave parryi

Parry’s Agave

The oval-shaped, rigid leaves of Agave Parryi with their blue/grey hue and globe-like formation is one of the hardiest species of Agave.  It is relatively easy to care for and can withstand temperatures as low as -20°F providing it is planted in well-draining soil to enable its roots to remain as dry as possible. 

  

Quick Guide

Position Full sun and can withstand very light shade

Watering Water thoroughly but infrequently

Size Height: 2 ft / Diameter: 3 ft

Climate Hardy Zones 7,8,9,10 (Min -20° F)

Propagate Offsets

Seasonality Evergreen

Toxicity Non toxic

Flowers Monocarpic

Also known as Parry’s Agave, this is a medium-sized Agave that freely produces offsets.  It looks great when planted on a large scale and is a perfect way of providing ground coverage for bigger spaces with sandy or free-draining soil or in rock gardens.

Leaves grow tightly packed together up to 12 inches long to create a perfectly symmetrical rosette.  The edges of the leaves are spiky and each has a sharp spine at the tip.  Avoid planting in borders for this reason. 

Originally found in Texas, parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico, Agave was used by native Americans for thousands of years as a source of food and drink.  A honey flavoured liquid can be extracted and after fermentation can be used to make tequila.  It can even be roasted and ground to create a sweet-tasting dried cake.

Agave parryi Care

Position

Since Agave parryi is native to desert climates, it prefers full sun although it can tolerate light shade.  For colder climates and areas that may endure freezing temperatures and snow, the best position is in a sheltered spot.

Avoid exposure to excess soil wetness at all costs.  You can do this by covering your Agave over winter to avoid heavy rain, snowfall, and thawing snow. 

Spread

When planting outdoors to form ground coverage, be sure to leave enough space between each plant.  Agave parryi plants can grow to two feet tall and three feet wide.

Although rare and only a once in a plant’s lifetime occurrence for this Agave, its flower spikes can grow to an impressive 15′ feet high, with branches spreading to as much as 10′ feet wide.

Watering

Most Agave plants are known to be drought-tolerant due to the climate and conditions of their natural growing habitat and this one is no exception. 

Young plants will need to be watered on an infrequent but regular basis. Use a long spouted watering can for this to ensure that water goes directly to the soil and base of the plant rather than in the leaves.   For mature plants that are planted outdoors in areas with moderate rainfall, you may not need to water at all.

Overwatering can be a big problem for Agave parryi that is a result of watering too often or allowing the soil to remain wet for long periods of time.  The leaves of your plant will become soft and mushy and may turn yellow or brown.

If you are unsure whether to water your Agave parryi it’s a good idea to test the moisture content in the soil first.  You can of course use a tool for this or quite simply, you can press your finger into the soil.  If it’s wet it won’t need watering but if it’s dry and has been dry for a day or two, then it’s time to water. 

Soil

Your Agave parryi will thank you for being planted in shallow soil that is well-draining such as a good quality store-bought succulent and cacti soil. This plant will, however, grow in very dry conditions as long as it contains plenty of grit or sand or is rocky.  This will ensure the roots are free from excess moisture and help you better monitor the watering needs of your plant. 

In fact, if you have a very sunny spot that you are struggling to grow anything in, it’s worth investing in one or even a few of these Agaves.  You’ll reap the reward of their attractiveness and spread and they demand very little in return.

Flowers

It’s such a shame that Agave parryi is monocarpic. It truly is a sight to behold and one that is well worth the wait. Each individual rosette will flower just once and only when it has reached full maturity. 

Parry's agave flowers

In its natural habitat, the fully matured rosette will flower during the summer.  This is when multiples of sweet-scented vivid yellow flowers cover as many as 20 to 30 branches that have grown from a 15-foot tall flower stalk. From the center of the rosette.  Following this spectacular display and once flowering has ended, seedpods will then form.

Once flowering has ended this rosette will die but the many offsets around its base will continue through to maturity.   

Feeding

Agave parryi does well without any fertilizing and so there really is unlikely to be any need to fertilize.

Pruning

If you notice the leaves of your Agave parryi turning brown or yellow, then for aesthetic reasons you may wish to trim them off. Although in the wild they will – over time – just drop off. 

When removing discolored leaves, take a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors and trim the leaf at an angle to just below the affected area.  If most of the leaf is affected, remove the affected leaf to the base of the stalk.  

There are a number of reasons why the leaves of your Agave parryi may change color from their natural blue, green-gray hue to yellow or brown and it is worth investigating why this may have happened. 

Brown, wrinkled and dry leaves are an indication of under watering so once you have trimmed the affected leaves back, you should resume a more regular watering schedule.

Leaves that are soft, mushy and yellow or brown are likely to be as a result of over watering.  Trim these back but also review the health of the roots and the moisture content of the soil.  The easiest way of doing this is to take the plant out of its pot or container and check out the section below on how to deal with damaged roots and root rot. When you return the plant to the pot you should always use a clean pot and fresh well-draining soil. 

Repotting

Agave parryi is a slow growing plant and so you will only need to repot it every 3-4 years. 

Your new pot should be slightly bigger than the previous pot and have sufficient drainage holes.  Always use fresh well-draining succulent or cacti soil and once planted, water generously until water runs through the drainage holes. 

Resume a regular but infrequent watering schedule and only water when soil is dry.

How to Propagate Agave Parri

Since Agave parryi flowers only once per lifetime, propagating from seed is a rarity.  This plant does, however, produce offsets and pups on a regular basis.  These grow from the base of the plant making propagation from offsets relatively easy. 

Offsets

Wearing gloves grasp the baby plant between thumb and index finger and either pull it gently from the main plant or cut it with a sharp and sterile knife or pair of scissors. 

Gently remove any soil from the bottom of the offset and allow it to callous off for a few days.

Once the cut edge is dry, place it on a thin layer of well-draining soil.  Water when the soil has completely dried out.   

Position in a bright spot avoiding direct sunlight. 

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Common problems with Agave parryi

Agave parryi is not only easy to care for and forgiving if under-watered, but it is also relatively resistant to pests and thankfully its tough leaves make it less appealing to the dreaded agave snout weevil. 

Root Rot

Possibly the main threat to the health of your Agave parryi is root rot.  This will occur if the soil remains wet rather than allowing it to dry completely between watering. Unless you check your plant regularly one of the first signs of root rot is brown, yellow, or squishy lower leaves.

To check whether the actual roots are rotten, remove your plant from the pot and carefully brush off any remaining soil.   Roots that are brown or black and soft and mushy are rotten and need trimming off. 

Allow the cut roots to dry before repotting with fresh soil in a clean pot. Resume watering your plant, but much less frequently, and always ensure the soil is completely dry before watering.   

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