How to Grow and Care for Manfreda
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Manfreda is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae. Some authorities place Manfreda in genus Polianthes, while others group place both genera in Agave. The generic name honors 14th-century Italian writer Manfredus de Monte Imperiale.
There are 28 species of Manfreda, distributed from South-eastern and South Texas, Eastern Mexico and Guatemala. These succulent plants are small and stemless or with a short stem. The fleshy leaves form a loose rosette. Leaf edges are smooth or have very small teeth and there are no terminal spines. The relatively tall inflorescence carries fragrant tubular flowers.
The Spotted Manfreda, also called Texas Tuberose (Manfreda maculosa) is notable for having silvery-green leaves covered with purple spots and is a popular xeriscape plant in the Southwest United States.
Manfreda species contain saponins that were used as detergents and were traditionally used as remedies against snake bite. While efficacy against snakebite is doubtful, it is just about possible that the soapy content could help to inactivate the toxic enzymes in some snake venoms.
Photo via actaplantarum.org
Growing Conditions and General Care
Manfreda is a tender perennial or "temperennial" succulent plant that grows best in full sun. Plant in well-drained, dry to average soil in containers just slightly wider than the width of the rosette or plant directly in the ground. Since the plant has a rather large root system, the container should be at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep. Manfreda is a slower grower, so it will not quickly overtake the space it is allotted in the landscape.
In summer when the plants are actively growing, they appreciate a bit of supplemental watering and half-strength fertilizer. During the winter months, the plants should be allowed to dry and should be stored in a cold room at 48°F (9° C). Plants are watered only enough to keep the foliage from shriveling.
Manfredas are propagated by the removal of offsets and from fresh seed. Fresh seed germinate in 7- 21 days at 68 to 72 °F (19 to 22 °C).
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How to Grow Mangave Plants
Growing mangaves are low maintenance, drought tolerant and often a perfect focal point in the landscape. Colors change and become more vibrant with sun. Make sure to give them plenty of room to grow in all directions when you plant.
Several types have emerged from these crosses featuring stripes, red freckles and different leaf edges. Some of these include:
- ‘Inkblot’ – A wide, low-growing type with draping leaves spotted with manfreda freckles.
- ‘Freckles and Speckles’ – Serrated green leaves with a lilac overlay, also covered with red spots and freckles with rose terminal spines.
- ‘Bad Hair Day’ – Leaves stream outward narrow, flat and green with a red blush extending out and expanding near the tips.
- ‘Blue Dart’ – Leaves look more like the agave parent, with a bluish green and silvery coating. This is a small to medium plant with brown-tipped leaves.
- ‘Catch a Wave’ – Darker green, pointy leaves covered with the manfreda spotting.
If you decide to give these new plants a try, mangave may be planted into landscape beds. Grown in USDA zones 4 through 8, this plant can take more cold than many succulents and more water too.
Those with extremely cold winters may grow them in large containers to enable winter protection. Whichever way you choose to grow them, make sure to plant into well-draining, amended succulent soil several inches down. Plant into a full morning sun area.
Now that you’ve learned how to grow mangaves, plant some of the new crosses this gardening season.
Manfreda undulata a.k.a. Chocolate Chip or False Agave is an interesting looking succulent plant. Manfredas are closely related to agaves and like agaves, they form rosettes and their flowers appear at the end of a long stalk. Interestingly enough, Manfredas are deciduous (they lose their leaves in the winter) and polycarpic (they don’t die after flowering).
Manfreda undulate plants are among the best Manfreda cultivars as they have beautifully spotted leaves with pronounced wavy leaf margins. The remarkable foliage is the real reason for growing ‘Chocolate Chips’ Manfreda, which is a small, low-growing plant. So, if you were looking for a plant that will look great when planted in a small container, a Manfreda undulate is a perfect choice.
Are you growing Manfreda undulate plants? Share your experience with us in the comments!