In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
November, 2001
Regional Report

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An agave pup pokes up through the soil near its parent plant.

Pups in the Garden

One of the magnificent things about aloes and many agaves is how readily they produce offshoots, also called 'pups." They are easy to dig and plant elsewhere in the landscape. I also like to pot them up in containers.

Propagating from Offshoots

The offshoots grow from runners sent out by the parent plant, which are just below the soil surface. The runners grow outwards at the base of the plant, and a new agave or aloe will pop up.

Gently brush or dig away the soil. Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut the runner, which is fairly thick and fleshy. Set the offshoot in a shady area for a couple days, which will allow the cut to callous before replanting. This helps prevent disease from entering the wound.

Planting in the Ground

Agaves and aloes prefer a loose, well-draining soil. If you have clay soil, amend it with sand or gravel. I loosen the ground to a depth of about 12 inches, which is how deep the roots grow. Plant the pups at the same soil level as they were originally growing. In other words, not too deep or too shallow.

Planting in Containers

Succulents make a striking display in containers on the patio. Use a soil mix that is formulated for cactus and succulents, or make one with one-third each of potting soil, pumice, and a mineral soil.

Before They Get Too Big!

It is much, much easier to perform this gardening task when the pups are small. Not only is there less transplant shock to the plant, it is easier to maneuver around the sharp spikes of the agave, which can inflict quite a puncture. I have the wounds to prove it!

Holiday Gifts

If you propagate now and plant them up in pots, when the holidays roll around, you will have "homegrown" gifts that fellow gardeners will treasure. Since many agave look similar, make name tags while you still remember which parent they came from.


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