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Beschorneria rigida

Beschorneria rigida
/ WIKIMEDIA
  • A member of the agave family with architecturally stunning leaves and spectacular arching, magenta stems and tubular red and chartreuse-green flowers

Beschorneria is a genus of plants in the Agavaceae sub family. Unlike many agaves, this stunning architectural plant has no nasty terminal spines on its leaves to make gardening around it difficult. The leaves on B. rigida are around 50cm long and have slightly serrated edges. Another advantage with this genus is that, while many of the agaves die after flowering, Beschorneria continues to flower year after year.

The foliage of Beschorneria is perennial and forms an attractive, rounded clump. Size depends on species (as does leaf colour - some are bright green, others grey-green) but B. yuccoides, for example, can form a huge rosette of more than 1.5 metres across.

The leaves are evergreen but older leaves may start to look a bit tatty after the winter. They can be removed with a sharp tug from the base.

Of the seven to ten species in the genus, the most popular one for the average sized garden is B. rigida. It is smaller than the other species and has the most flowers, especially if planted in a sunny spot. It will flower in partial shade but less prolifically.

The magenta flower stems can be over a metre long and have pendant tubular flowers with magenta sepals and chartreuse-green petals.

The flowers open in late spring and last for several weeks. They are followed by striking red seed pods, sometimes striped with pale green or cream, which open to reveal shiny black seeds. The seeds are rarely viable and propagation is best carried out by dividing the clump in spring or summer.

The Beschorneria genus is not frost hardy and, although fairly drought resistant, will benefit from watering in the summer.