I have mentioned this agave several times over the years and thought it was time to give it a post all to itself. It is a lovely variety with a good structural form and viscous terminal spines. The good ones have a red tinge to the edge of the leaves and a row of red/brown teeth. The bigger they get (and they do get big) the better their colouring should get.
One of the reasons it is such a good plant is that it comes from higher altitude around the edge of forests in Mexico and this means not only can it cope with cold, but likes it slightly wetter as well. in fact it seems to do most of its growing at the start and end of the summer when the temperatures are lower and rainfall slightly higher. This makes it perfect for growing in the UK and one of the fastest agaves for growth here.
After a couple of bad winters, it was given a bit of a hard time as many people lost their plants. I think this was simply because people had planted out very young plants. Some agaves are born tough, agave montana is not one of those. It needs time to settle into growth and to build up its cold hardiness. Once plants get to about 50cm they seem to cope fine with minimal protection from snow.
There is no doubt they like to be in the ground. A few years back I bought the plant in the above photos along with a second identical one. One got planted the other has been kept in pots waiting for more space for it to be planted. This has given me an ideal opportunity to compare how they cope with the different situation. I have always known the the one in the ground has done better, but with digging the dry bed up I was finally able to compare the two and i was surprised by the difference:
You would never know they were identical 3 years ago. Whatever the reason for this extra growth, when we finally get our new garden all my agave montanas are going in the ground.