I just spent the last two days wrestling with plant roots straight from the bowels of Hades.
I went into this feeling all confident but things went sideways almost as soon as I got started repotting. You see, my beautiful Agave had been growing in the same pot since I got it. It was a plant I had been wanting for a long while. It was a wish list plant before plant wish lists were really a “thing”. When my hubby heard me talking about this new plant obsession, he skulked off to the computer and ordered it for me as gift for our 17th wedding anniversary. (My husband is a darling and also a bit of a plant enabler too.) So in June of 2017 I became the proud owner of a huge Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’. I have a video of the unboxing if you’d like to see it.
After three growing seasons in the same pot, my poor Agave was looking rough. Grass was growing out of the planter, there were dead leaves and brown and broken leaf tips. And approximately 4 million pups that desperately needed to be removed and given their own pots.
The first problem with repotting an Agave is the incredibly sharp leaf margins and leaf tips. I knew this already and I had protected myself with leather gloves. So my hands and wrists were protected, but I was still having problems unpotting this plant. It’s the strangest thing, the leaves of this Agave are armed like a porcupine, but they are still rather easily damaged. They bend and snap and can be pierced and scratched, sometimes by other leaves from the same plant! So, rolling this plant around in an attempt to loosen it from its pot was just not an option. Additionally, there is no part of this plant that you can grab onto for some leverage. No stem (that can be seen or reached) and the rest is all pointy teeth…hungry for my tender flesh.
The only logical next step was to get a hammer. It took three hits. And then I could see why the plant could not be pulled from the pot.
The pot was packed, way past capacity, with roots and crazy pups. Some of the offsets (pups) wrapped all the way around the inside of the pot. There were at least 50 pups that had not been able to grow out of the top of the pot and so had just spiraled around in the darkness. There was almost no soil at all left. Poor baby. Plant abuse!
I spent the next two days working on gently loosening roots and cutting off pups. All while holding an extremely sharp and heavy plant by its rootball. I was absolutely exhausted! I’d worked for an hour or hour and a half at a time and then break for a couple of hours and go back for more. As I said, it was a long couple of days. Many tears were shed, quite a bit of blood too, and the curse words got fantastically creative. I’m afraid I offended the poor pig’s ears.
I got it done. That’s all I can really say here. I can’t brag that it was a job well done, that’s for sure. But my beautiful wish list plant has been successfully repotted so no complaints here. As a bonus, I have many sweet Agave babies.
And if you still want an Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’ after reading all of this, well, I have them listed for sale in my Etsy shop. (I’m not at all surprised, by the way. I mean, we’re all crazy plant people here…right???)
Here’s a link to my YouTube video of this experience.
Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.