Mangave (man-GAH-vey) is a relatively recent cross of Manfreda and Agave and the results are truly the best of both worlds. This unique group of plants is shaped like a traditional Agave, but it bears red to purple spots, has gentle, easy to handle leaves, and grows about twice as fast. Gardeners looking for large, exotic plants with out of this world colors will love discovering these new, rare cultivars.
- Form: Open rosettes with cascading leaves, Mangave hold their own as a thriller, filler, and spiller all wrapped into one.
- Colors: Varies by cultivar, but most have blue, green, red, and/or purple tones. Plants grown outdoors in bright sun will show the best reds and purples.
- Foliage: Leaves are somewhat stiff but do not have the sharp spines and teeth of most Agave. This group displays diverse leaf forms from wide and wavy to narrow and spilling.
- Flowers: After several years of growth, a plant can send up a bloom stalk up to 7.0' high of branching, yellow inflorescences. Most Mangave are monocarpic and produce only one bloom in their lifetime. They can, however, produce new offsets or "pups" that will live on after the mother plant dies.
- Light: Mangave can tolerate partial shade, but the more sun they get, the more colorful their speckles will be. Protect from afternoon sun when temperatures exceed 85F. It is truly an outdoor plant but can tolerate short spells indoors on sunny sills and under grow lights if necessary.
- Soil: Aim to use a gritty, well-draining cactus/succulent soil or amend your soil with 50% mineral grit e.g. coarse sand, perlite, or pumice. Mangave are not heavy feeders and can thrive even in lean, nutrient poor soil. If planting in containers, try to select pots with drainage holes.
- Water: Mangave can handle a bit more regular watering without being at risk of rot, especially when they are establishing roots. If left dry too long, they can go dormant, so aim to water deeply when the soil is dry.
- Hardiness: Most are hardy to Zone 8 or 9 and can tolerate only short, light frosts. Consult each cultivar’s Product Details for its specific hardiness. Potted Mangave can overwinter indoors near a sunny window or under a grow light. (What’s my zone?)
- Propagation: As the plant grows it can produce new rosette offsets or “pups” around its base. Leave the pups to root and cluster or gently pull them off and transplant them elsewhere.
Notes from the Nursery
Through expert hybridization by Hans Hansen of Walters Gardens, Mangave uniquely combine exotic appearances with vigorous growth. Their eye-catching colors and patterns add fun accents to a garden palette and grow quickly, spilling from beds and pots. They are also far more agreeable to handle than spined, toothed Agave and do not pup as aggressively.
Recently, all the Manfreda have been moved into the Agave genus, and while Mangave is no longer a true intergeneric hybrid, it is still a useful moniker for this distinctive group. Mangave have lily-like tendencies and can tolerate more water and shade than your average Agave. Many gardeners like to pair them with large, colorful pots for aesthetics and the flexibility to move the plant around until they find the right balance of sun and shade.
Mangave can experience burns if subjected to full sun, drought, and high heat all at once. By watering early in the morning and hitting the soil rather than the leaves, you can avoid the burns that can result from water droplets collecting on the leaves and magnifying afternoon sun.