Agave - beauty, nurse, healer
Large rosettes of leaves firing upwards with long xiphoid arrows can be found in the streets and parks of southern cities.
On the plain, agave descended from the mountains, where it has been growing for many centuries, perfectly adapted to both the hot sun and scanty soil. The picky succulent and home windowsills lived in.
Discovery History and Description
In the Old World they learned about agave when the conquest of Mexico began. In addition to the original appearance, the plant was widely used by the indigenous people of the American continent in everyday life.
When a guest from Mexico caught the eye of European botanists, they drew attention to its unusual flowering. From a lush rosette of leaves a tall peduncle (up to 10 meters) is extended, the top of which is decorated with large flowers (up to 7 cm), gathered in a panicle.
Excellent, wonderful, amazing - such epithets deserved a flower, and by association with them the evergreen desert agave got its current name.
In ancient Greek mythology, Agave was the daughter of the goddess of harmony of harmony and the founder of Thebes Cadmus. Her fate was tragic. The girl did not accept the divine origin of Dionysus, and the god of winemaking deprived her mind.
In madness, she tore her own son. Apparently, she was so beautiful that scientists imprinted her image in the name of the plant, despite such a terrible legend.
Be that as it may, today there are more than 450 species of plants. All have long leaves with prickly spikes and hairs, in connection with this the question arises: is agave a cactus or not?
In appearance, it is mistakenly attributed to cacti. In fact, she is really succulent, but part of the Asparagus family.
Under natural conditions, the diameter of the outlet can reach 5 meters. A houseplant has a more modest size, the diameter of its rosettes is 12–20 cm.
It is noteworthy that agave blooms once in a lifetime. And this miracle happens quite rarely. Some species it takes 10 years to produce a flower stalk; others bloom in 20-30 years of life.
With the same rarity, you can see the fruit of the plant. After flowering, it dies, and new shoots growing from the root offspring, the whole life cycle begins again. Perhaps this explains their long preparation for flowering.
The main is considered the territory of Mexico, South and Central America. Some species grow in the highlands of the Mediterranean. Agave grows on the territory of Russia, in the Crimea and the Caucasus.
In home floriculture, several types of succulents are grown:
- Florists who are fond of cultivating agaves are considered the most beautiful view Queen Victoria. She has a neat rosette of dark green leaves (up to 15 cm long), randomly decorated with white stripes. The leaves are so stiff that they seem to be made of plastic.
- Drawn agave unique in that it has no thorns on the leaves. Its stems are twisted and composed of many branches. It grows in small colonies (up to 120 cm), consisting of many outlets.
- Agave american grows to an impressive size - 2 meters in height and 3 meters in width. Leaves are lanceolate and very prickly at the edges. Their teeth are so sharp that, if handled carelessly, they leave deep scratches on the skin.
- Blue agave - This is a favorite Mexican plant. It is from this type of plant that the famous tequila is made. Indoor varieties are not suitable for making an alcoholic drink, but they have a decorative appearance.
- Agave nitiferous can compete with Queen Victoria for the title of the most decorative look. Its leaves are painted in dark green, framed at the edges by white stripes. At the top of the leaf is a brown claw, and along the edge are long hairs-strands of white color.
- Agave Vilmorena looks like an octopus that came out to land. The linear leaves of the plant with wavy edges resemble the tentacles of a mollusk. The bluish-green background of the leaves is a beautiful marble pattern.
Agave Care at Home
Observing the plant at home, experts note its unpretentiousness and ease of care. Even the beginner grower is able to contain agave.
The vast majority of agave species is photophilous. However, they have one amazing feature: the flower grows beautifully under artificial lighting.
Being in a corridor without windows, he calmly tolerates their absence if an alternative light source burns for 14-16 hours. The fact that the plant lacks lighting will be told by its leaves, which begin to lose their elasticity and wilt.
Normal room temperature agave is enough to feel normal throughout the growing season. When the plant retires, it is placed in a cool but bright place with a temperature of 6 ... 8 ° C.
Born in the desert, agave is used to a poor diet of moisture. In summer, it is watered once every 2 weeks. In winter, shorten the procedure to 1 time per month. And here do not spray the plant: Moisture in the middle of the outlet provokes rotting of leaves and stems.
The most suitable soil mixture is easy to prepare yourself. It includes:
- coarse sand or marine sand, shell;
- soddy and leafy soil (taken under birch trees, lindens).
The components of the substrate taken in equal parts are mixed well and steamed. Plant a plant in a wide and short pot, 3 cm of drainage is laid on its bottom, then the soil.
And again, we recall that the natural environment for a plant is a desert. Dry air is not a problem for agave, but the usual atmosphere. In the summer, boldly take her outside.
Important! Do not keep near moisturizers or water containers.
Active growth begins in late spring, from this time on, agave needs nutrition. Suitable as nutritional mixtures ready-made fertilizers for succulents. Fertilizers are applied during watering, about 1 time per month. In winter, plant nutrition is not needed.
For agave propagation two ways fit. One of them is accessible and always successful, the second is more complex and can end in failure:
- Basal processes. In an adult plant, daughter siblings are formed. When transplanting them, it is easy to notice. Choose the root section with the kidneys and cut off with a sharp blade. We give a little dry, so that a film forms on the slice, and we plant it in nutrient soil. It is not necessary to cover and water the seedling. We are waiting for the roots to appear, only then we water it.
- Seeds. They can be bought at the store. Sowing is carried out in early March. Having prepared a container with soil, the seeds are lowered into it to a shallow depth. Watered by spraying, cover with glass or film. For successful germination maintain a temperature of 24 ° C. Sprouts make their way on the 7-10th day. When they harden and form the base of the outlet, they are transferred to stationary pots.
Diseases and Pests
Fleshy agave leaves, like a delicious fruit, attract harmful insects. Aphids, thrips, spider mites may settle on it, moving from other plants or due to poor care.
Processing with soapy water and insecticides helps rid the plant of pests.
Diseases arise with a lack of some elements or infection with fungi and pests. With a lack of lighting, the leaves of the plant turn yellow. Yellowing of the tips of the leaf plate indicates a calcium deficiency in the soil.
If the plant is poured, it begins to rot roots, affecting the condition of the leaves. Non-compliance with the temperature regime leads to wilting of the leaves. Low temperatures cause them to fall.
Agave has a lot of useful qualities that have found application in various areas of human life. Let's start with the leaves. Of them make ropes, weave mats and make packing fabrics.
Used in cooking for preparing salads, eaten raw and fried. Squeeze the juice, which is drunk in a freshly squeezed state, or boil syrup from it. Both stalks and flowers go to food.
The healing properties of agave
The healing properties of agave are no secret. In Mexico, both the leaves and the roots of plants have long been used. Modern medicine is actively applying plant extracts for the preparation of various medicinal preparations.
The synthesis of cortisone and progesterone is based on steroidal saponins contained in agave juice.
Interesting! Contraceptives are made from some types of agave in China.
In what form is the plant used?
One of the most sought-after species in terms of healing properties is the American variety of agave. It is from its leaves that many homeopathic preparations are prepared. The juice and the leaves themselves are applied, which are applied to the sore spots.
In folk medicine, there are several popular recipes for medicinal products from agave:
- Alcohol solution of leaves. Tincture is useful in the treatment of gout and osteochondrosis. Make it from 1 part of the crushed leaves of the plant and 10 parts of alcohol (70%). After pouring the leaves with alcohol, you need to put the container with tincture in a dark place and let it brew for 5-7 days. Take 20 drops before meals.
- Leaf powder. Useful for diseases of the gallbladder and liver. The leaves are dried, triturated. Apply in microdoses (0.2-0.5 g), washed down with water.
- Infusion of leaves against conjunctivitis. Take 1 leaf of the plant, finely chop, pour 150 ml of boiling water, let stand for 1 hour. Then add 0.5 teaspoon of honey, mix well. Flush eyes with inflammation.
Of course, not all types of agave are suitable for human needs, but the fact that it looks great indoors and decorates its interior does not cause objections. The content of agave at home is doubly attractive in that the plant is unpretentious in care.