Agaves are valued landscape plants in dry-climate regions like the Southwest and southern California. Many agaves grow very large, but where space is limited, the charming Queen Victoria agave is the perfect solution. This drought-tolerant plant forms a dense, spherical rosette the size of a basketball. Its fleshy, keeled leaves are dark green to bluish green with distinctive white margins, giving the whole plant the look of carved artwork. It often takes 20 years before Queen Victoria agave blooms, and then it sends up a spectacular 10 to 15 foot tall stalk loaded with hundreds of small cream colored flowers, which often have a purplish tint.
Common name: Queen Victoria agave
Botanical name: Agave victoriae-reginae
Plant type: Evergreen succulent
Zones: 9 to 11; can also be grown in cool greenhouses or conservatories in colder regions
Height: 8 to 14 inches
• Sun: Full sun or part-day shade
• Soil: Sandy or gravelly, well-drained
• Moisture: Dry
• Mulch: None
• Pruning: None
• Fertilizer: Rarely needed
• Division of basal offsets
Pests and diseases
• Prone to basal rot if overwatered.
• ‘Golden Princess’ has broad yellow leaf margins.
• Selections with broader white leaf margins than the species are often sold under the name ‘Albomarginata’. ‘White Rhino’ and ‘Snow Princess’ are similar.
• ‘Porcupine’ has an especially compact and symmetrical form. May be hardy to Zone 8.
• In colder regions this agave can be grown in a cool (night temperatures 40°F to 50°F) greenhouse or conservatory. Move outdoors after last frost.
• Plant Queen Victoria agave along a front walkway or at the front of xeric planting beds so you can admire its handsome form and pattern.
• Queen Victoria agave is ideal for container planting, either alone or with other xeric plants.
All in the family
• Queen Victoria agave is a member of the agave family (Agavaceae). Some taxonomists have lumped Agavaceae into the much larger Asparagaceae family, but others still treat it as a separate family.
• There are over 200 species of agave. Many are used for xeric landscaping, and several are used to produce tequila and mezcal.
Where to buy
• J&J Cactus and Succulents; www.jjcactus-succulents.net/index.htm
• Plant Delights Nursery; www.plantdelights.com
• Trio Nursery; www.trionursery.com