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  • Waterwise Gardening | David Salman

Protect Desert habitats and their pollinators - only buy nursery-grown Agave!

Agave parryi left and top are greenhouse grown, bottom right wild collected in habitat

Agaves are the royalty of our precious desert habitats in southern NM. They are cornerstone plants of the desert ecology, providing nectar for migrating bats and hummingbirds and protein-rich seeds that feed desert insects that are the start of the desert food chain. Agaves flower only once when they reach 25 to 30 years of age and then die. When large mature plants are removed from their desert homes, their absence creates a huge tear in the ecological fabric of their habitat. Just the removal of one generation of mature plants creates a gap in seed production that severely impacts their numbers. When this pillaging occurs year after year to satisfy landscaping demands by NM homeowners, these Agave populations disappear, especially with the added stress of increasing drought frequency brought on by climate disruption.

And the worst part is that this trade in wild-collected plants does the homeowner no good! After paying a lot of money for one of these trophy Agaves, the plants will not live more than 1 to 3 years. The stress of being collected and held bare-root for weeks in the blazing sun before being planted, causes the plants to bloom. Agaves are monocarpic (flower once, then die), and all the homeowner is left with is a giant, sad skeleton. Only buy nursery-grown plants cultivated from responsibly collected seeds. Enjoy years of having these succulent sculptures growing in your landscape and keep our fragile NM deserts intact.

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