Our Plants

April 2005 Plant Highlight: Agave colorata
Image of Agave colorata   Image of A. colorata foliage

Agave colorata is a compact species native to the state of Sonora in northwest Mexico. The rosette of leaves can reach a size of 4 feet or more across, but are often smaller. There are fewer leaves in a rosette compared to most other Agave species, but these are a beautiful bluish color and are adorned with decorative teeth on the margins. Plants in nature often have striking bands running across the leaves, created by the alternation of zones with a pallid blue-gray coating and darker zones. However, this banding is seldom encountered on plants in cultivation. The species typically sends out a modest number of offsets at the base, making it easy to propagate, but it does not sucker prolifically and form a large clump, as some of the take-over species are inclined to do. The inflorescence is modest by Agave standards, attaining a height of only 5 to 9 feet (up to 3 meters), and tends to bend horizontally at the tip. It has short lateral branches ending in clusters of yellow flowers, which are frequently red-tipped at the bud stage.

A. colorata is not a widespread species, growing in only a modest number of colonies in rocky places in Sonora. At the north end of its range, near Guaymas, it occurs on small coastal hills. In southern Sonora, it is found a little farther inland, but never at high altitudes. Happily, it is able to tolerate temperatures much lower than those which are encountered in its native area. At The Ruth Bancroft Garden, it survived a severe cold spell with temperatures dropping to as low as 19ºF (-8º C). It is a beautiful garden subject, needing only a sunny spot with excellent drainage to do well. Its flowers appear in late March or April.

Image of A. colorata flower
Text and Photos by Brian Kemble
Mission Statement
The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.
Centennial Celebration
We are celebrating Garden Founder Ruth Bancroft's 100th year throughout 2009. If you would like to get involved in this historic milestone, you can help by contributing to the Centennial Fund or by attending on of our many special events this year.
Grant Funders
The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position, and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our Volunteer Coordinator’s position, as well as for their generous support over the years.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden GardenConservancy