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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Sunday - May 12, 2013

From: Clovis, CA
Region: California
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Black rot at center of Agave from Clovis CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have some beautiful variegated "Green & Cream" Agave plants in our cactus garden. One in particular has done quite well for several years and is the largest, about 18" tall & across, it has never flowered but has put out many "babies" which we have replanted and grown in abundance. The problem is with this largest plant it has begun to develop a black soft rotting spot along the center leaves before they unfolded and has grown slowly throughout the spring. we think it is a fungus of some type. There is no evidence of bugs and it is NOT powdery more slimey looking. So far it is the only plant affected. Help?

ANSWER:

We are stumped on what species of Agave is the "Green and Cream." We do not have any Agaves in our Native Plant Database that are referred to as "variegated" nor that appear to have cream color edging or stripes. We hunted around the Internet and found this article and picture from San Marcos Growers of what they referred to as Agave parryi 'Cream Spike.' The article says it originated in Mexico, which would put it out of our realm of expertise. However, there is an Agave parryi (Parry's agave) in our Native Plant Database which is listed as being native to  Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. As you can see in the picture below from our Image Gallery, there is no trace of cream on this plant. The name "Green and Cream" is no doubt a trade name dreamed up by some creative plant retailer to attract sales, but it does make it hard to identify.

However, we have answered other questions on diseases of Agave. Please go to this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer and follow the links in it; hopefully this will give you some clues. This refers to Agave americana (American century plant), but both are agaves and supposedly susceptible to the same problems.

 

From the Image Gallery


Parry's agave
Agave parryi

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