Agave 'Blue Flame' (ISI 2005-6) at the Huntington Botanic Garden
This beautiful agave forms clumps with rosettes which individually are 2 1/2 feet tall by to 3 feet wide. Older clumps build up to form large dense masses to up to 5 feet tall. The flexible blue-green leaves have finely serrate margins and terminal spine. The blue cast to the leaves form from a glaucus waxy cuticle that covers the surface of the younger leaves. This feature can be enhanced by promoting new growth and vigor by giving regular irrigation and fertilizer and avoiding overhead water that can wash the leaf surface. Plant in well drained soils in full sun or light shade in inland and desert gardens. Irrigate little or more regularly to promote more vigorous growth. Hardy to at least 25 F.
The name 'Blue Flame' is both in reference to the blue in the foliage and also to the shape of the plant, which resembles a gas flame with its gracefully incurved leaf tips. This hybrid between
Agave shawii (seed parent) and Agave attenuata (pollen parent) was created by Dave Verity in the early 1960ís at UCLA's Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. A least two clones were produced and one was planted at Huntington Botanic Garden (HBG 19706) where it first flowered in 1983. The above picture was taken of this planting in 1988. It is the first recorded cross between the subgenera Agave and Littaea with A. shawii (subgenus Agave) adding frost hardiness to the otherwise tender A. attenuata (subgenus Littaea). The hybrid inherits Agave attenuata's smooth spineless flexible foliage and graceful inflorescence while it gets a terminal spine and a finely serrate margin from Agave shawii - it is not as gentle as Agave attenuata but not as spiny as Agave shawii. What a great new Agave for the garden!
The Huntington Botanic Garden has introduced this beautiful plant through the ISI (International Succulent Introduction) program in conjunction with Pacific Horticulture's PPP (Pacific Plant Promotions) in 2005 with the designation ISI 2005-6. An article written by Bart O'Brien, the Director of Horticulture at Rancho Santa Ana Botoanic Garden, was published in the Summer 2005 issue of Pacific Horticuture announcing this introduction. The original name chosen for this plant was Agave 'David Verity but changed to 'Blue Flame' to avoid confusion with another ISI plant Aloe 'David Verity' and to embrace the name applied by Rancho Soledad Nursery in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. John Trager of the Huntington Botanic Garden sent vegetatively produced plants to Rancho Soledad Nursery where it was put into their tissue culture program. In 2004 Rancho Soledad Nursery made a small release of this plant, first under the name Agave 'Huntington Toothed' and later as Agave 'Blue Flame'. Our stock plants are from Rancho Soledad Nursery.