When it comes to sculptural form in the garden, it’s hard to compete with a well-grown agave (Agave spp. and cvs., Zones 7b–11). With sizes ranging from 6-inch rosettes to hulking 12-foot giants, there really is a perfect plant for every garden or container. Most are striking enough in their natural tones of green to blue, but some have raised the bar a bit higher, adding highlights of white and gold to the palette.
Variegation usually appears as a chance mutation among seedlings, or occasionally in new pups or even tissue-cultured plants. How this develops as plants mature can vary a lot, but in monocots like agaves the chlorophyll will usually be reduced in linear patterns along the edges or down the center of the leaves, and sometimes with irregular variations between the surface and deeper leaf tissue. These effects can be striking—and rare, resulting in some astonishing prices. However, some forms have been around for decades and are passed along at reasonable cost with little fanfare, but they are no less useful in the landscape. Here are a few of my favorite variegated agaves that suit a variety of conditions and always add a unique highlight to the garden.
A few basic requirements are shared by all members of this genus.
(Agave americana var. marginata)
Size: Up to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide (less in containers)
The leaves on young plants are mostly straight but can develop sinuous curves as the plants mature. This is a spectacular specimen in a location with backlighting. Expect century agave to freely produce pups (young offset plants).
(Agave weberi ‘Arizona Star’)
Size: Up to 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide
This is a “friendly” agave with unarmed leaf edges, which is unusual for suchRead more on finegardening.com