Agave stricta, the Hedgehog Agave, is endemic to the Tehuacan Valley in northern Puebla and southern Oaxaca where it grows at elevations of 1700-1850 metres on arid calcareous soils. It forms offsets as it grows, creating dense distinctive colonies of pincushion growth. This tight spiky growth consists of elongated thin usually upcurved and very rigid leaves with a greyish-black terminal thorn.
It is cold tolerant to around -5C if kept completely dry and can withstand fluctuations dipping below that for short periods of time. Despite its fierce spiky nature it has enormous architectural appeal and can be used within the microclimate of urban London in areas that have no human footfall. In drier parts of southern England it can also be experimented with outdoors but - as with all Agaves - attention needs to be paid to ensure a free-draining substrate and - in this instance - a rainshelter for the winter. In its native habitat it is often found growing on rocky slopes so planting on a gradient or in a raised bed is sensible.
Similar in both form and name to Agave striata...
In early spring, after the stress of the winter and as the light levels suddenly increase in clear sunny days in March, Agave stricta often takes on a distinctive reddish colouration. This tends to grow out during the course of the summer and return to green but it is not especially uncommon for it persist throughout the summer. Red colouration in succulents is very common and usually associated with any number of stress factors. There has been some debate about its 'Rubra' nature and whether it is a genuinely distinctive form. We grow thousands of Agave stricta 'Rubra' every year. We also grow the 'ordinary' Agave stricta. Are they different? Not really. Both have a tendency to turn red. But not all of them. Some do ... and some don't ... in both populations ... in exactly the same conditions. It is normal for large populations both in the wild and in cultivation to show some variation even when experiencing exactly the same climatic and environmental conditions. That doesn't make it a distinct describable taxonomic form or variety. It is probably more appropriate to think of Rubra as a state rather than a separate form. Plants raised from seed which has been collected from selected red specimens (as these have been) may show more inclination to turn red. Maybe. If we begin to notice a statistically significant proportion of one population that has more red examples during the spring and summertime flush we will let you know...
In the meantime - red or green - they are rather gorgeous; dangerously so...
|Synonyms||Agave striata f. stricta, Agave striata subsp. stricta, Agave striata ssp. stricta, Agave striata var. stricta, Bonapartea stricta|
|Geographical Origin||Mexico: the Tehuacan Valley in northern Puebla and southern Oaxaca|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Perfect drainage. Alkaline substrate. Plant on a gradient or raised bed if outdoors. Keep absolutely dry from October until March|
|Eventual Spread||Spreading to 2-3 metres when mature|
|Hardiness||Not fully hardy. Down to about -5C. Keep it fleeced in colder weather and keep it dry|
Excellent sized plantReally lovely and healthy plant
Various coloursWhen I unpacked it, it showed some red, some green, some orangy-yellow, a whole spectrum.
Must have felt confused in transit.
Nice plant that I'll keep in the outbuilding for a year or two and then plant out.
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