Agave parryi

I recently found a reference at the Danger Garden to Agave parryi, which is supposed to be hardy to zone 4.

Huh… Strange.

I’ve never seen one of these for sale around Toronto or heard of anyone growing one of these around here (though just across Lake Ontario in Saint Catharines which I believe is a zone 6 (possibly a zone 6b) they tackle hardy bananas and fan palms with a great deal of winter protection, and have seen at least the hardy bananas for sale very locally.

I searched for “Agave parryi Toronto” and found this article which suggests they might be alright here.


Agave parryi
How jaw droppingly stunning would that be anywhere in Toronto. Even if I can’t grow it as a hardy plant I think I need one anyway. Some forms are more or less hardy as well so the one pictured may not be an option at all.
(Photo taken by Nauticashades, used under CC license from here).

It does make me recall a customer who came in one day and said he had bought a house that summer with a large fruiting fig plant established in the ground. The previous owners had left large sheets of plywood, wooden posts, foam insulation among other things in the shed for it, and I believe he said also some instructions about filling the insulated big box with dry mulch, something like straw. While ingenious and apparently surprisingly effective this would likely not work in the case of something like an Agave, which needs good airflow and light during the winter.

Might be possible to use a cold frame type enclosure for light, with an opening (probably on the east) for air flow without exposing the plant to harsh north/west wind, all on a raised bed for drainage (you could hide the supports for the frame in the corners of the raised bed for easy setup/removal. Probably insulate the sides but keep the top clear? I don’t have room for something like this but just trying to think of ways it could work, hopefully for when I do have room.

Here at least drainage is a big issue (unless you made a raised bed, with very well draining soil to fill). I’m on terrible clay soil and it’s sort of a problem. I’ve definitely lost plants to poor winter drainage before and suspect that that would be a sure killer for an Agave. But I did install a little retaining wall sort of thing last summer. Sure I then planted a very large Hosta in prime real estate but should it prove to be too big (and I think it will) I just might be forced to move it and try to track down an Agave parryi. It would be a nice area since it’s already home of a Sedum and Sempervivum and I’ve got plans for more of each there (realistically though all I need is a new house… haha. But no really that would help a lot). I suspect that even in this “perfect” little spot drainage wouldn’t be good enough, winter protection would be tricky, and space would still be limited.

Have you grown one? What zone are you and what sort of drainage do you have? What’s the coldest you’ve had an Agave survive? How much constant snow cover can they tolerate? What winter protection do you use?

I suspect that this won’t work for me (mostly because of wet winter conditions) but maybe one day when I’m feeling lucky I might give it a try.

About Andrew

Plant lover living in Toronto, Canada where I grow a wide range of plants in a very small space.
This entry was posted in Hardy, Tropical, Wish list and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Agave parryi

  1. Have never tried growing an Agave of any kind outdoors, but last summer, I stopped in at my ex-work and they had a gigantic donated one (possibly an A. americana) from someone who apparently used to plant it in their yard every spring and then dig it up every fall and bring it inside. Judging by the pictures (which I'll post sometime), it had to have been three and a half to four feet (1.1 to 1.2 meters) tall, and maybe slightly wider than tall. It doesn't seem like a particularly sensible solution to the problem (why not just a really large container, which can be moved in and out without disturbing the roots twice a year?), but such things are at least possible, if you're of a mind to do them. I know this doesn't answer the question. But it's the closest I could get.

  2. Andrew says:

    I suppose there's just the impact of seeing it planted in the ground rather than in a container, though a large plastic container that could be lifted in and out of another container that would be left in the ground might be a good compromise. (Maybe not if we're talking a 4' Agave, I can't imagine trying to dig it up each year either!)

  3. Aerelonian says:

    That plant is really nice and I would love to have one. Great find, I'll add it to my plant collection. I'm not sure how to overwinter it. I've read a lot but haven't tired anything yet so I don't want to suggest anything.I really like the new banner!

  4. Andrew says:

    Even if you haven't tried it if you've heard of a different way to winter something like this feel free to let us know! I think as long as you point out that you haven't tried it it can only help to put all ideas out in the open.The site and maybe the banner will be getting a few tweaks over the next few days, nothing major though. Glad you like the banner.My computer's at 1440×900 resolution and the vast white bars on either side of the screen were starting to bother me so I decided now was as good a time as any to personalize this site a little bit.

  5. God that is a fabulous agave! I love the leaf impressions they create… very cool.

  6. Stefan says:

    They had a couple of huge agave plants (one was a meter and a half high and at least as wide) at Rosetta McClean Garden on Kington road in Scarborough. Don’t know what they do with it in the winter. It’s not there in the winter.

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