If you are always on the look-out for new, unique and interesting plants, then Mangave plants are for you!
These are a relatively new group of plants that were recently “discovered” that is taking the plant world by storm.
A Mangave is a cross between an Agave and Manfreda plant.
It is very unlikely that you would find these in nature as they rarely bloom at the same time to cross-pollinate.
However, this did happen, by accident, in a nursery in the 1990s.
What makes a Mangave so special is that it takes on the best characteristics of its parents while leaving behind less desirable ones.
For instance, an Agave’s positive traits are its strong, durable, architectural leaves.
However, their negative traits are that they can have sharp spines and be extremely slow-growing.
Manfreda plant’s positive traits are softer, fewer spines and grow more quickly.
Also, many Manfreda plants have unique leaf spots and colorful markings that make them interesting and showy.
Therefore Mangave crosses have strong leaf structures with softer spines, unique leaves and grow a bit faster than most succulents!
These are great characteristics for the beginner or accomplished gardener!
Professional plant hybridizers realized that this could create a new segment of plants in the horticulture industry.
Since then, many new crosses have been intentionally made to develop more unique variations of Mangave.
How Do You Care for a Mangave Plant?
Mangave plants are succulents. Therefore, they grow best in a location with full sun (bright light) and well-drained soil.
If they are in shady or low-light areas, this may affect the appearance of any characteristic leaf colors or markings.
As with most succulents, they are drought tolerant.
If they have too much moisture or have standing water, they will rot.
However, Mangave will tolerate a bit more water than traditional succulents.
Fertilize Mangave with a succulent fertilizer as directed on the package.
Most Mangave varieties are winter hardy to zones 9-10. However, there are select varieties such as ‘Falling Waters’ and Bad Hair Day’ that can overwinter in zone 7b.
Outside of these zones, Mangaves are best grown in containers so that they can be overwintered indoors.
One of the breeding goals is to develop a Mangave variety that will overwinter in a colder climate. Some initial trials have shown that heavy wet snow on the crown of the plant is most detrimental.
In addition to their beautiful foliage, Mangaves produce flowers that are similar to lilies.
The flowers are on tall stalks and are attract hummingbirds.
Most Mangaves are monocarpic meaning that the main plant will die after flowering.
However, by the time the plant reaches that size, it has produced multiple offshoots (pups) to replace it.
How to Use Mangave Plants in the Landscape?
Mangave plants are ideal container plants.
Their ability to go periods without water makes them perfect for a busy homeowner that wants a patio filled with plants.
As some annuals begin to suffer in the heat of summer and require daily maintenance, a Mangave plant will thrive.
They also make going away on vacation a bit less stressful as their low-maintenance nature will help ensure that you return to living plants after your vacation!
Growing Mangave in containers in northern climates is more practical as they can be moved indoors more easily for the winter.
In southern climates where Mangave can overwinter, growing in the ground is also an option.
The strong architectural form and unique leaf shapes and colors provide a lot of design opportunities in the landscape.
Another great feature of Mangave plants is that they are deer-resistant and have few pest problems.
Although not marketed as houseplants, they could be used as indoor plants if the location was appropriate.
Mangave succulents are a new group of plants that have resulted from a cross between an Agave and Manfreda plant.
This unique combination has created plants with beneficial characteristics for growing in today’s landscape.
Above all, the unique leaf shapes, colors and patterns bring a fresh, distinctive look to any patio or backyard.
New Mangave plants are being bred every year so there is a great opportunity to build a one-of-a-kind garden.