Saturday, November 12, 2011

Potting Queen Victoria Reginae Agave

 I bought two of these Queen Victoria Reginae Agaves for $20 each by luck.  They are not in pristine condition but still very acceptable for the price.  They are about 9" wide each.  They are extremely slow growing so they usually sell for much more.  These agaves are known for their beautiful spherical symmetry.  When they are under-watered, they maintain a compact form which looks nicer than the open form.  I potted both of them tonight so I will share my notes on how I did that.  Since they have a spherical form, I decided that the best pot shape should repeat this form.  The color of the leaves are dark so I want to contrast the plant against a light colored pot.  I wanted an understated pot so that it would not draw attention away from the plant.

I bought two terracotta pots for $7.50 each.  These agaves like a well draining cactus mix so the first thing I did was use a diamond circular cutting bit to cut a bigger drainage hole.  I bought this bit at Home Depot a while back to cut through tile.  The hole is now 1" wide and it will improve drainage a lot.

Next, I put a plastic piece of screen to keep the soil from spilling out.  If the pot had raised feet, I would wire it in but since it doesn't, I'll just let the soil hold it down.

I line the bottom inch with a drainage layer of 1/4" red lava rock.  This will hold the screen down, add weight to the pot so it will be less likely to fall over, and improve drainage.

My cactus mix consists of 40% Miracle Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix and 60% perlite.  I believe in the "more white than brown" rule because it will help prevent over-watering.  Sometimes when it rains and the pot is exposed, you can just leave it there if your soil is fast draining like mine is.  As long as it doesn't rain for several days continuously, the plant should be just fine.  I'm in Los Angeles so we're not known to receive much precipitation but still...  You never know.  The last thing you want to worry about is root rot.

I removed most of the old soil from the plant's nursery pot.  The roots looks mostly healthy, I only removed a few loose, dead roots.  I left a little bit of the old soil near the base of the plant on it.  I did not do any root pruning because I don't think it is necessary yet and it will fit in the new container just fine the way it is.

After packing the soil in around the roots and filling in the gaps, I made sure that it was as centered and upright positioned as possible.  I used 1/4" California Gold gravel as a topping.  This gravel is gold and turns into a deep orange when wet.  It preserves the contrast between the pot and the plant which is nice and looks natural.

I am very happy with how these turned out.

Keep an eye out because sometimes you can find great bargains on plants and pots.  If you fall in love with a plant immediately, be patient and don't buy it right away because you might be able to buy it elsewhere for much cheaper.  I've seen these plants in this 9" size sell for over $100 each at another nursery before.  These two are not in perfect condition because some of the leaf tips are a bit dinged but nothing major.  However my total cost minus the soil and topping was only about $60 including tax.

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