The text on my phone read, “Dear Gardener in Pearls, I have kept this plant alive since it arrived as a baby. Now it appears to be having babies. Do I do anything?
Sincerely, Clueless in the Mitten.”
When I stopped laughing, I told Clueless in the Mitten that all babies grow up, and yes, her baby was indeed having a baby.
No need to rush for clean towels and hot water. This birth was going to be quite simple.
The Mangave is a cross between the genus Manfreda and Agave. Like all good offspring, it combines the best of both parents. This new hybrid has an increased growth rate and creative patterns of the Manfreda and the manners and refinement of the Agave.
The succulent plant works well in a container or the year-round landscape of Zones 8-9. It can tolerate part shade but will thrive with sunlight. Winters in the Mitten, an affection term for Michigan, get brutally cold, so hats off to Clueless for keeping this plant alive and growing for over two years.
What started as a small plant in a four-inch pot quickly grew into a mature plant living comfortably in a 12 inch-container. Unlike most succulents, the Mangave is tolerant of overwatering, especially if planted in coarse, well-draining soil. This could be a succulent or cactus soil mix or potting soil amended with 50% coarse sand, perlite, or pumice. No need to fertilize; these plants are not heavy feeders.
The foliage can be stiff but does not have a sharp spine, like its Agave’s parent. The long slender leaves may change color or texture depending on the type. The full size of most is two feet high and two feet wide.
As the plant matures, it will produce offshoots called rosettes or pups. These will form around the base of the plant and are easy to transplant. Yes, the plant is giving birth to a new baby plant.
At this point, the mother plant has done the work; we simply need to remove the pups, including any roots they have developed, from the original plant. Gently but firmly pull the pups from the plant. This might be easier if the mother is first removed from her container, depending on the plant. If you have taken momma out of her container, go ahead and replant in the same place once the pups are removed.
Take the babies and give them their separate container, placing the new plants in the coarse, gritty soil deep enough to cover any roots. It won’t be long before they settle into living on their own.
During the summer months, and after the threat of frost has passed, this plant will love being outside. Take momma and her babies outside for the summer. When the danger of frost appears in the fall, bring them in and find a sunny window or use a grow bulb for extra light.
Dear (not so) Clueless in the Mitten, you have done everything right. You are a good plant mom. Enjoy your grandplants and enjoy the precious summer months in the Mitten. Oh, and don’t forget to send me baby photos.