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Desert Gardens

Hardy Cacti, Succulents and Companion Plants for 
San Antonio and Austin

These are plants to use for desert gardens. Or, at least the ones that more resemble the botanical diversity found in arid lands. Please do not inform me if you employ these plants in gardens containing cow skulls, wagon wheels and a large clay figure resting below a sombrero!

Cold temperature tolerances are based on personal experience. Your results might vary since most of these species recommendations are based on results with a specific clone (or two), grown in well-drained raised beds, in full sun. For best results, please install succulent plants in late spring, so they are well-established long before being exposed to cold weather. Stop watering them after Labor Day to induce dormancy.

Do not attempt to grow Agave americana selections, Manfreda, Mangave or soft-leaved Yucca if you are an adherent of the “Organic Gardening” faith. These plants are susceptible to infestations by Scyphophorus acupunctatus, the Agave Snout-Nosed Beetle, also called the Agave Snout-Nosed Weevil. The immature form of this insect is the well-known Tequila Worm. Controlling this pest requires the use of man-made pesticides; specifically, systemic insecticides. Also, I do not buy these plants from “organic” nurseries since numerous anecdotal reports from central Texas indicate they have sold infested plants, especially Mangave cultivars. Do not buy any plant of these genera if it is wilted, loose in the pot or has any dead lower leaves. 

Very few of these plants are sold by big-box stores. Some are available from real nurseries and some can be obtained from mail-order/internet specialist growers. Many rarities and especially new introductions are sold through internet auction sites. Though prices can be astronomical since you are also competing with overseas collectors.

Certain ones are recent introductions, currently in propagation, and should be available eventually.  If you wish to obtain those not in commerce, learn where they grow and go get seed or cuttings to propagate them.

FloresFlowers Introductions are in GREEN


Acacia berlandieri - Guajillo

Acacia farnesiana (A. smallii) - Huisache

Acacia tortuosa - Twisted Acacia 

Acacia wrightii - Wright's Acacia 

Agave americana var. americana

Agave americana 'Opal' - A variegated selection reputed to be cold-hardier than others.

Agave americana marginata - A variegated selection with colored margins.

Agave americana medio-picta - A variegated selection with a central colored area 

Agave americana striata - A variegated selection with pale narrow bands.

Agave americana var. expansa

Agave americana ssp. protoamericana 

Agave americana ssp. protoamericana 'Blue Steel' - A seedling selection from Cd.Victoria, Tamaulipas

Agave americana ssp. protoamericana 'Funky Toes' - Presumed to be a hybrid between Agave americana ssp. protoamericana and Agave asperrima.

Agave americana ssp. protoamericana 'Lemon Lime' - Presumed to be an intergrade between Agave americana ssp. protoamericana and Agave asperrima

Agave americana ssp. protoamericana 'Miquihuana Silver'

Agave americana ssp protoamericana 'Pokey Ghost' 

Agave asperrima X americana ‘Medusa‘ - A giant clone, maturing at 8’ to 10‘ high and 10’ to 12‘ wide, to stand guard over your garden.  The massive, gray leaves (turned to stone?) can be over 10 inches wide.  It is very tolerant of supplemental irrigation and has shown no damage after 15º F.  In Greek, the name of this Gorgon literally means, guardian.

Agave asperrima ssp. potosiensis

Agave asperrima ssp. asperrima

Agave X 'Silver Surfer' - A hybrid of Agave americana ssp. protoamericana and Agave asperrima selected from seed collected at 5,200' in Palmillo, Tamaulipas

Agave bracteosa - A small, unarmed Agave that is safe to use near walks or in containers.

Agave bracteosa 'Calamar' - An almost non-clumping form of this cliff-dwelling species.

Agave celsii - A cold-hardy form of this species has been sold as, Agave celsii - La Zora.

Agave difformis 

Agave funkiana

Agave gentryi

Agave gentryi 'Jaws' - A selection, from 8,000' in Nuevo León. 

Agave gentryi 'Maws' - A monstrose mutant of Agave gentryi 'Jaws'.  This selection has contorted leaves + spines and is more compact.

Agave gentryi x montana (La Escondida form) - Hybrid seedling selections from the village of La Escondida, Nuevo León.

Agave gracilipes - A natural hybrid of Agave neomexicana and Agave lechuguilla. 

Agave havardiana - Big Bend Agave

Agave havardiana (Raulston Arboretum Form) - Possibly a hybrid of Agave havardiana and Agave asperrima. 

Agave lechuguilla - Lechuguilla

Agave lophantha 

Agave lophantha 'Band Aid' - A variegated selection. 

Agave lophantha 'Goldstrike' 

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' - A variegated selection.

Agave lophantha 'Splendida' 

Agave lophantha univittata type 

Agave X 'Mateo' - A hybrid of Agave bracteosa and possibly A. lophantha. 

Agave montana

Agave 'Baccarat' - A selection made in October, 1997 from La Encantada, Nuevo León, at 9,080' elevation. 

Agave montana X salmiana

Agave X 'Mr. Ripple' - A selection from Ciudad del Maiz, San Luis Potosí.  Assumed to be a hybrid of Agave salmiana X A. americana ssp. protoamericana. 

Agave murpheyi - A bulbil-forming species long cultivated by Native Americans. 

Agave murpheyi 'Engard' - A variegated selection collected in 1974 by Rodney Engard,  8 km south of Barthlett Dam and 3.2 km east of the Verde River, Arizona.

Agave neomexicana 

Agave obscura 

Agave ocahui var. ocahui 

Agave ovatifolia - A species named in 2002.  Native to the Sierra de Lampazos, Nuevo León, from 3,000' to 5,500' elevation.  A giant Agave with silvery-gray leaves that produces no secondary rosettes.  Propagated by bulbils, seed and tissue culture.

Agave palmeri

Agave parryi

Agave parryi ‘Estrella’

Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston' - A selection from the Strybing Arboretum, originally from Jack Napton. 

Agave parryi ssp. huachucensis 

Agave parryi ssp. huachucensis 'Excelsior' - A variegated selection.

Agave parryi var. truncata 

Agave potrerana - Native to the high mountains just south of the Big Bend.

Agave salmiana var. salmiana - Pulque Agave

Agave salmiana var. ferox

Agave salmiana 'Butterfingers' - A variegated selection. 

Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Bump in the Night' - This monstrose selection that might be identical to Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Bellville’.

Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Crazy Horse' - Another monstrose selection, possibly the same as Agave salmiana 'Bothe' 

Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Green Goblet' - A selection from near the Sierra Chiquita of Tamaulipas. 

Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Logan Calhoun' - A cultivar selected by Logan Calhoun.

Agave X 'Scabradabra' - Say, “Abracadabra,” and we obtain, as if by magic, an amazingly monstrose selection of a presumed Agave americana ssp. protoamericana and Agave asperrima cross.

Agave X 'Sharkskin Shoes'

Agave shrevei ssp. magna

Agave sisalana forma armata - The cold-hardiest selection of the Sisal Agave for San Antonio, it has been hardy to 22º F. and has recovered from rhizomes after exposure to even lower temperatures.

Agave striata 

Agave striata ssp. striata 'Espadina' - A robust selection from near Monclova, Coahuila.

Agave stricta

Agave tenuifolia - Similar to Agave striata and A. stricta.

Agave victoria-reginae - A spectacular plant best seen on the sheer limestone walls of Santa Catarina Canyon, west of Monterrey, Nuevo León

Agave victoriae-reginae 'Compacta' 

Agave victoriae-reginae 'Kazo Bana' - A variegated selection.

Agave victoriae-reginae 'Porcupine' - A compact selection.

Agave weberi - Pulque Agave

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star' - A variegated selection.

Agave weberi 'Reiner's Selection' - A wide-leaf selection named for Reiner Radermacher.

Agave xylonacantha - Root hardy to 15º F.

Agave xylonacantha ‘Don’t Tread on Me' - A selection with glaucous leaves and profuse secondary branching.  Forms an excellent impenetrable groundcover for slopes and is hardy to 15º F.

Agave xylonacantha x lophantha 

Agave ‘Zara’ - A selection of giant Agave with silvery-gray leaves that produces very few secondary rosettes (only 1 or 2 in its lifetime).  Propagated exclusively by tissue culture.

The List Continues.


The botanical images on this site were produced by The Photon Hunt.

Thank you for visiting!,
Copyright at Common Law by Manuel Flores