Makin’ Mangaves

While we leave all the fancy mangave creations to our friend Hans Hansen at Walters Gardens, we continue our work on creating more winter hardy (to 0 degrees F) hybrids. Over the last couple of years, we’ve made several crosses using some of Hans’ hardiest Agave ovatifolia based F1 generation selections, like xMangave ‘Blue Mammoth’ and xMangave ‘Falling Waters’ and crossing them back onto Agave ovatifolia.

The F1 mangave hybrids from Hans’ work, have all lost the monocarpic trait of pure agaves, meaning they will not die after flowering. We are curious what will happen if the hybrids have 2 parts agave and one part manfreda. With most of our crosses, we grow 100-200 of each into 1 qt pots, which allows us to do an initial culling after seeing the juvenile foliage traits.

The photos below are from that process, which happened this week. This is a cross of xMangave ‘Falling Waters’ x Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’. The first image shows the diversity in the seedlings. All plants have some degree of glaucous foliage…some more toward blue and others with purple spotting that comes solely from the Manfreda parent. It was interesting that the F2 plants still showed some degree of purple spotting…probably around 5% of the plants.

Mangave seedling variability within a F2 generation cross.
x Mangave ‘Falling Waters’ x Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’

From a batch of 100-200 plants, our goal is to select 10% for the next round of in ground trials. We focus on selecting at least one plant for each desirable trait. Those traits include: size (dwarf or large), leaf undulations, spotting density, best blue color, leaf twisting, leaf length, leaf width, overall form, best spination, and variegation.

Below are some of our final selections for the next phase of trials. These will be up-potted into 3 quart pots and overwintered indoors, since we’re already too late for planting outdoors this year. These will go into the ground in spring, after the danger of frost has passed.

Mangave seedlings selected for in ground hardiness trials.
x Mangave ‘Falling Waters’ x Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’
x Mangave and Agave hybrids overwintering in a heated greenhouse
x Mangave and Agave hybrids overwintering in a heated greenhouse

8 thoughts on “Makin’ Mangaves”

  1. Your new hybrids look alluring!The mangave I thought I killed, ‘Center of Attention,’ recovered and is thriving in sunroom,where ‘Spotty Dotty’ is doing OK. ‘Bad Hair Day’ is ok by living room window. My two ‘Falling Water’ plants are healthy and becoming ever larger, but sustained big-time damage from oak mast.Should I leave them out (in pots on deck), or bring into garage? or try to put in ground now or in spring? As you know, I am in 7b.

    1. I would not plant any mangave in the ground this late in Zone 7b. Since they are in containers, they will need protection from winter temperature much below 32F. M. ‘Falling Waters’ will probably be ok outdoors in a container until temps drop to 20-25F.

    1. That’s not something that usually makes sense from a breeders point of view. If we select 10 from a cross to trial further, we have no way to compare our best to others which aren’t here on the property. The purpose of trials is so we get only the best to eventually make it to market. Another trialer is going to be as willing to destroy a plant that they have been growing for years when we are ready to make our final selection.

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