Bring Structure and Interest to Your Plant Borders
The Foxtail Agave or Agave attenuata has a delightful rosette-shaped form, which can add an interesting accent to your garden beds. The upward growing leaves are an attractive silvery green. The Foxtail Agave is an easy to grow, evergreen succulent perennial that will provide your yard with structure year round.
The genus Agave is characterized by the open rosette shape of the plant, with its elegant, arching foliage. The heart of the blue agave (Agave tequilana) is used to make tequila, and the nectar of various species of agave are used to produce a light and sweet syrup used in baking. Agave attenuata is in the family Agavaceae, which contains the many Agave species, Hesperaloe, and also Yucca, such as the Joshua tree. These plants originate from Mexico and thrive in the Southwestern United States.
The Foxtail Agave is well suited for growing in the garden, as it is one of the only agaves which doesn’t have spines. It can grow quite large, reaching 4-5′ tall and 6-8′ wide. This succulent is well suited to the Bay Area’s coastal and bayside climate and conditions, as it tolerates salt spray and drought.
The best growing conditions for the Agave attenuata are in full sun with good drainage – preferably in sandy or loamy soil. Planting beds can be prepared by mixing in loamy top-soil and sand or gravel to amend our heavy soils. They prefer a soil with a slightly acidic or neutral pH. They are tender plants and should be protected from frosts in the winter time. If planted in containers, these can be brought inside for protection. These succulents are deer tolerant but can be pestered by slugs and snails who like to feast on their leaves. A regular application of Sluggo will keep them at bay.
The flower stalk of the Foxtail Agave is beautiful and worth waiting for (it can take up to 10 years!). Bees adore their sugary nectar and buzz around these summer bloomers. The flower stalk can reach from 5′ to 10′ long and is sent up from the heart of the plant, drooping gracefully in the shape of a foxtail. The individual flowers are a light greenish yellow in color and are followed by oval seed pods.
Agave attenuata works beautifully as an accent in Mediterranean gardens, planted with other grasses and perennials who also appreciate good drainage, such as Agastache and Salvias. Planting the Foxtail Agave in rock gardens will ensure they have good drainage. They also work well planted near patios for visual effect and in containers on porches or decks.
USDA Zones: 10-12.
Planting and Care for Agave attenuata
- Plant in full sun – but will tolerate part shade.
- Plant in sandy or loamy soil or gravel with good drainage.
- Amend heavy soils with Greenall’s Firmulch and gravel or sand to improve drainage.
- Allow soil to dry out in between watering. It prefers at least a week between deep soakings.
- Mulch with gravel or bark mulch.
- Fertilize infrequently with a weak but balanced liquid fertilizer.
- Regularly sprinkle Sluggo around the base of plants to avoid slug and snail damage.