Thursday, November 21, 2013

WHEN YOU DON'T GET WHAT YOU BARGAINED FOR

I didn't really do any bargaining of course.


I didn't have an Agave Victoria-reginae in my garden and I still don't. I thought I was going to when I picked up this, labeled as such, plant at the Austin cactus and succulent show a few years ago. When it started making pups I knew I didn't have the plant I wanted. This is Agave ferdinadi-regis. 
To my mind the king has nothing on the queen. The leaves a have a more open structure and then it has all these attendants! However, he has been there for about 5 years and I suppose that means he will stay. Maybe I'll eventually get my queen.


Then there is the Agave ovatifolia. This was my first one. Notice how the leaves fold over giving an open vase appearance. Then compare with this.


Also sold to me as Agave ovatifolia, but quite different. The leaves are more upright. I would never guess that this was Agave ovatifolia. When it put out a pup I called the nursery where it was grown. They called the seed merchant in Germany who stand by their identification! It certainly has a different form but it is not unloved.
I might also include packets of seeds that don't live up to the the pictures on the cover. Lots of those.
Have you always got what you bargained for?

16 comments:

  1. I sometimes get a plant that is different, but there's a home here for them anyway!

    Your Agave are beautiful.

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    1. I am so glad I am not the only one. Of course I always give plants a home so mine stay too.

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  2. I had to look up Agave Victoria-reginae . . . there's quite a difference isn't there?

    For the most part I'm too ignorant, botanically, to know whether or not a plant I've purchased was mislabeled or not. A bigger problem for has been getting *more* than I bargained for: buying things impulsively at plant sales and herb forums, then finding out that they're horribly invasive.

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    1. I know that story too. Mother of thousands, ruby grass, feather grass, salvias of all kind. I will never learn.

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  3. I am faced with one of my more memorable "not what I thought" plant purchases daily. I bought two "miniature pomegranate bushes" right off the truck as they were being unloaded at my favorite nursery. I carefully planted them across from east facing picture windows, where they'd be in view from every bedroom, the living room, the study...

    It turns out the term "miniature" referred to the size of the fruit borne on these bushes and not to the the plants themselves. I've come to grips with their taller-than-I-expected destiny and keep them trimmed into a mini-tree form that is very pleasing. I try to keep them out of the canopy of the weeping yaupon overhead and mostly succeed. Best laid plans....

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    1. That is interesting about the pomegranate. I have never heard of the smaller fruit tree. Do you eat them? We love poms at this house. The bigger the better.

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  4. Well, now I don't know what I have, but King or Queen. this is one of my favorites agaves. I wish there were more cold hardy agaves in this small size available for our zone 8 area. The Agave Parryi is another one that I really like. Any others come to mind?

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    1. The queen has much tighter structure and no pups! The quadricolor agaves are another small sized plant. A. desmettiana if you like to mess with protection. They always pup so well that you can just keep small ones going.

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    2. Squid agave is another small, cold-tolerant agave, Ally.

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  5. The frequency of these labeling mistakes seems to be increasing - there are so many growers operating high production operations now and I suspect the staff isn't as connected to the plants as once was the case. I'm finding some growers list just the genus on labels without specifying the variety at all and show size dimensions encompassing a ridiculous range (e.g. 2 to 10 feet tall on plants just labeled "Duranta"). I guess the positive spin is that it promotes surprises.

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    1. I think this goes along with hardiness labels. I don't trust them one jot.

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  6. I'm grinning. I don't feel so bad now about the three now-very-large agaves in my front yard that have proved to be far relations instead of identical siblings. I love all three and their differences now.

    Fun post.

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    1. I imagine they are part of the garden family by now. Even with their differences. Just like children.

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  7. I think my ovatifolia came with the name 'Frosty Blue,' but I can't say much about the form yet since I'm hesitant to plant another potentially huge agave in the ground. Yours and Pam's are enormous! There's only one instance I can think of where mislabeling mattered, when I was trying to get a dwarf Salvia leucantha, which I think is the 'Santa Barbara' form, and grew it for a whole season only to find it wasn't the compact version at all. In a small garden, size matters!

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  8. Those 2 A. ovatifolia plants seem like just different populations, with slightly different forms. Maybe if large enough at the nursery, one can tell what tendencies each might have before buying? I hear you, and it's worse on some larger commercial projects - had my Nolina texana become some other Nolina, which was not as graceful and compact for my use (used at tree trunks) - the grower just brushed it off. Needs to be better documentation on seed source and quality control, but will people pay for that?

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  9. I like it very much when I read your blog ! this post about agavae is great. I especially like the A. ovatifolia that bends over in a chalice form.

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