Cactus and Succulents forum→Mangave Repotting

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Name: TK
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6b)
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Macrocentra
May 28, 2020 1:23 AM CST
I moved a mangave to a new pot about two weeks ago. I avoided messing with it too much, but I wanted to get an opinion on whether I should have done anything more during the process. The plant was purchased a few weeks before the repot.

The mangave was moved to a new pot because it had completely filled it to a point where no soil was visible to be able to water it. The plastic pot also felt rock hard when gently squeezed, and large roots were spreading out of the drainage holes. I was unable to get it to come out of the pot, so I had to carefully cut the pot in half to remove the plant. I was able to cut the bottom to get the large emerging roots safely freed as well. I was kind of surprised to find upon finishing the cut, the root ball almost seemed to expand a bit. So it appears it was very crammed in there. Upon freeing the plant, it turned out I had misjudged the size of the pot I purchased, so I went out right away to fetch a bit larger one. The plant had to wait a while exposed while I searched for a new pot, so I didn't want to mess with it too much. I potted the plant how I pot most of my well-rooted succulents: drilled drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, placed a thin layer of small gravel on the bottom (to help prevent soil loss during watering), added a layer of medium to the bottom until the plant sat at the same height as the previous pot, and then filled in the sides. There was also a layer of soggy wet wood shavings* (similar to what you'd use for a small pet cage) on top of the soil, which I gently removed with a soft brush. I also cleared a small amount of the top soil, as some leaves were buried.

(* Any reason a nursery may have put those thin wood shavings on top of the soil? I haven't seen that with a succulent before...)

Here's the plant, and roots, after I freed it from the pot, and cleared away the wood shavings and some of the top soil:
Thumb of 2020-05-28/Macrocentra/aecab4
Thumb of 2020-05-28/Macrocentra/8c9a19

So my question is... Should I have done anything more when repotting this mangave? Should I have loosened the roots in any way? Trimmed anything? I've never messed with roots during repotting on a well-rooted succulent before. The only times I've ever "adjusted" roots, is when the plant is very loosely rooted and I had a reason to repot it (was previously in poor soil, or other reason). This is the most heavily rooted succulent I've repotted so far, so I just wanted to get another opinion to make sure I'm doing what's best for the plant. Smiling

It hasn't been watered since I moved it over. It's also been living outside on my patio for periods of time during the day, and coming in at night. Now that the weather's more stable, I intended to keep it outside overnight as well.

Thank you!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 28, 2020 8:44 AM CST

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It looks great. I never loosen the roots on a plant like yours. More risk of harm than any particular benefit. Looks like you'll have lots of offsets to separate in the near future (if you so choose)! Thumbs up
Name: TK
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6b)
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Macrocentra
May 28, 2020 11:11 AM CST
Perfect, thank you. Smiling

I'll probably separate a couple of them and pot them up when they're bigger. How large should they be roughly before separating?
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 28, 2020 11:39 AM CST

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You could try now, or wait a few months. Unpot the plant before separation. If you remove the soil around the base of the offsets, you'll find it easier to separate them.
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
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mcvansoest
May 28, 2020 12:22 PM CST
That is a nice looking Mangave!

It is interesting what happened to these here - especially in the US. There were a limited number of these around for a long while, but then there was an explosion of them (Walters Gardens - whole sale only - in Michigan started putting out a large number of great looking different Mangaves). For a while you could only find these at 'specialty' nurseries at pretty crazy prices for the size of the plant. Plant Delights Nursery still has a great (the best I have come across so far) selection, but only at significant cost. Over the years, when I have been able to get some (or convince myself the splurge on a PDN order), I have acquired some despite most not being very well suited for the summer weather here: The full summer sun is way too much for them, but they are OK in the shade, but tend to not get the nice coloration that makes these plants so cool.

And then last year all of a sudden they started appearing in numbers are the Big Box Stores, obviously at prices that cannot be beat by most nurseries. The selection was still not as great as for example at PDN, but I got a Mangave 'Tooth Fairy' that was at least twice the size for about 1/2 the price (if not less) as the 'Tooth Fairy' I got from PDN a couple of years prior. My PDN Tooth Fairy still lags behind in size to the BBS plant...

I also got a 'Man of Steel' that was even more root bound than your plant TK, there was no noticeable soil left. I actually planted that straight into the ground on the east side of the house that only get morning sun, just to try. It is covered in some shade cloth now, but it looks like it has perked up a lot.
I have found that many of the Mangaves I have take a lot of sun when it is not our crazy summer sun here. I had several getting up to 6-8 hours of sun in the spring here with excellent results in nicely colored up leaves and strong new growth.

A couple of notes on your potting adventures: I would not put the gravel in the bottom of the pot. I realize that the idea of stopping soil from going out the drain hole is useful, but a layer of coarser material in the bottom of the pot is something that many cacti and succulents do not deal well with. I use little pieces of fine mesh screen which works really well. I also found a significant number of options on amazon for just that, probably courtesy of the bonsai culture.

Given your somewhat limited growing season I would take these pups as soon as you can, they will take some time to get settled in and you want to do that while being able to give them plenty of strong light and as much heat as possible. I would hesitate to put the pups in the full sun immediately even where you are at, but I would probably experiment with one of the pups (given that you have some to spare) to see how it does in its own little pot in the sun you can give it.
In my plant which is different from yours (did it come labeled with a name?) the offsets were quite strongly attached to the base of the plant so my offsets came with very little of their own roots. If that is that case with yours (hopefully not) the longer they get in your growing season the better.

I think the wood shavings some times end up mixed in with soils and wood can take a while to decompose compared to some other organic soil components. I frequently find chunks of wood in the cheap cactus and citrus soil I buy and as the soil gets depleted I frequently end up with a pot mostly full of pumice, some sand and chunks of wood.
It is what it is!
Name: TK
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Sempervivums Bromeliad Tropicals Aroids Hibiscus
Sedums Container Gardener
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Macrocentra
May 28, 2020 3:35 PM CST
I was excited when I found it, as I've never seen any Mangaves in any garden center or store before. A small nursery nearby had a couple sitting with their Aloe veras. I've seen a lot of new plants there this year that I've never seen available here before actually. Nice to see some new and unique plants coming in.
Mine was labelled as a 'Pineapple Express'. The price wasn't too bad either, at least in my opinion, considering what I got. It felt like a fair price. I think it's already one of my favorite plants. I've been keeping it in an area where it gets a few hours of bright light earlier in the morning, and then shade the rest of the day.

I didn't know that about the gravel. Most of mine have a thin layer (just enough to cover the bottom, and I use a fine smooth gravel). Some of my others just have a single piece of mulch or a single stone over part of the drainage hole to help with the drainage. I might get some mesh and switch over to that method then.

I've gotten the big chunks of wood in my soils before. Just thought the curled thin shavings were kind of weird. They were really soggy and I was hoping the plant didn't get too much water trapped around the base. After clearing it off, everything looked okay in there other than two dead leaves on a pup that I gently pulled off.

sunny1az
Apr 3, 2021 1:13 PM CST
mcvansoest, I was happy to read your post from last year and am hoping that you see this one. I am also in Arizona (near Safford) and just started my mangave collection when I found a Bloodspot at a BBS. I later bought a Jaguar at a cactus nursery in Tucson.

Then I went on an online search for more, finding Walter's Gardens, Plant Delights, and Mountain Crest Gardens, which has a fantastic selection of pups at affordable prices. I went off the deep end and ordered 15 different ones from them and was thrilled when they arrived yesterday; all are now planted into small pots to get them started.

Prior to purchasing, I did what I thought was careful research and chose ones that said Cold Hardy to 10 degrees F and a few that said 20. But, after reading the detailed information about each one, all except one said that they were NOT frost hardy and should be brought inside for the winter to protect them. These are eventually going to be large plants and I cannot bring that many into the house. How can something be cold hardy to 10 but not survive frost?

I noticed that your post from last year mentioned the sun being too intense. That was a real surprise since they are sold as a Full Sun plant while also stating that it has the qualities of an agave which are all great in our intense sun. So, for now, I have them in filtered light while they are getting used to their new pots. Will I have to keep them out of direct sun?

This is my first post on NGA and have obviously rambled a bit but I want to make sure I get my mangaves a good start and hope I didn't waste my money buying so many.
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
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mcvansoest
Apr 3, 2021 2:17 PM CST
Welcome @sunny1az

I completely understand your shopping spree, every time I go and the visit mountain crest gardens website I end up with another batch of mangaves...

As to your questions: remember that full sun in most of the rest of the country is not quite like our full sun, but I will go even further: your full sun in Safford is not like my full sun here in the Phoenix area. I am sure you get hot in summer, but your area is unlikely to suffer from any kind of urban heat island effect like the Phoenix area does. You can even see the difference between Tucson and here with regards to that. So you may be able to grow these in a lot of sun eventually, where you are at.

My suggestion would be as follows: since you just got them, keep them in mostly shade for the coming summer and then when things cool down a bit in September (or if there is a strong monsoon, maybe when the clouds/rains hit) try and carefully over a period of 2 weeks or so increase the sun exposure of the one or two that have grown the most since you got them, to say a few hours of sun a day, just to see, but I cannot stress enough that you will want to do this very gradually and you will want to have a bunch of shade cloth on hand to help create enough shade, and be prepared to move it back to dappled sun on short notice. Bad sun burn can happen very fast, especially here.
But then in the Fall I would give these plants a good amount sun, but again move them gradually to more exposure otherwise sun burn will happen.

Another thing to look into is which Agaves contributed to the genetic material that makes up your mangaves, ones with generally glaucous grey stiffer leaves may do better with sun, than some of the softer green leaved version (though with noted exceptions). Bloodspot, should be able to take the sun in your area, but do it carefully.

As to their frost hardiness that is tough. If it is dry cold you may be able to just put a front blanket over them to get them through the night. We do not really get cold anymore in winter where I am at - had one night of 33F this winter and given that we are up at 99F tomorrow it is unlikely to get anywhere close to it till next winter. The main thing is that these probably can take short periods of serious cold when dry and covered. As long as day time temperatures are well above freezing I do not think you have to take these inside for the winter, but let me add that I am not completely up to speed on what winters are like in Safford (driven through it a few times, but not actually visited).

Turns out I am a poor taker of photgraphs of my Mangaves, but here are a few:

Mangave 'Man of Steel':
Thumb of 2021-04-03/mcvansoest/a9c3fd
Thumb of 2021-04-03/mcvansoest/4319ed
This is currently the only Mangave I have in the ground. I have Manfreda 'Chocolate Chips' in the ground as well, but that is not quite the same thing.

Mangave 'Tooth Fairy':
Thumb of 2021-04-03/mcvansoest/22a2a7

and my largest Mangave, Mangave 'Mission to Mars':
Thumb of 2021-04-03/mcvansoest/c93431
Sorry for the weird rotation on that last picture, it needs to be rotated CCW 90 degrees, but I am too lazy to do that...

Anyway, good luck and keep us posted on how your plants do!
It is what it is!

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