Gardening to Do

Bee-Wise Gardening

Allergic to bees?  You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife. 

Here's how to grow one of the featured plants, Furcraea, which was also seen in Plants to Try.  


Latin Name

Furcraea foetida 'Medio-picta'

Common Name

Striped False Agave

What family is it in?

Agavaceae, the agave family.

What kind of plant is it?

Evergreen tender succulent.

Hardiness

Zones 10-11

Habit

Sword-shaped but spineless leaves form a dome-shaped clump.

Rate of Growth

Fast when happy


Size in ten years

If growing in-gound in a suitable climate, 5 - 8 feet high and 10 feet across.  Smaller if in a container.

Texture

Striking and sculptural. 

Grown for

Year-round foliar appeal: The sword-shaped leaves are more white than green, so this already-sculptural plant is even more showy.  

Flowering season

Once-flowering, in Spring.  The flowers are greenish-white, strongly-scented (hence the "foetid" of the Latin name), and very appealing to bees.  They're arrayed on a yucca-like spike as tall as 25 feet.   

Culture

All possible heat and sun in cooler climates or when in Summered-out containers in cold climates.  In native habitat, tolerates and even enjoys a bit of shade.  Fairly xeric.

How to handle it

In-ground:  Smooth, flexible, and thornless leaves permit more casual placement than with its thorny and rigid-leaved agave relatives.  Increases in size and bulk for many years, then flowers once, then dies.  Offsets around the mother plant survive and can be transplanted.  Doesn't need much water at any time of year.

In a container: Place outside only after all frost danger is past.  Water lightly if at all, especially if ambient rain is more than once a month.  Bring indoors before frost, keep cool and dry but not below 50 degrees.  Needs little or no water the entire Winter, especially if kept near 50 degrees.

Downsides

None

Variants

There are other furcraea species, some a bit smaller and a bit hardier.  But F. foetida 'Medio-picta' is the star of the family.

Availability

On-line and at larger retail nurseries.

Propagation

Offsets and seeds

Native habitat

Mexico

 
 
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