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Life After Lawn: Change your spots

Spotted false agave, actually an agave cousin, offers distinctive foliage in the nearly dry garden.
Spotted false agave, actually an agave cousin, offers distinctive foliage in the nearly dry garden.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Life After Lawn” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and ideal for drought-tolerant landscapes.

Spotted false agave

Manfreda guttata “Jaguar”

Size: Up to 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.

Bloom season: Pink flowers in late spring and summer.

Exposure: Full sun.

Pruning needs: None.

Water needs: Low; once established, water deeply once a month. No irrigation in winter.

Snapshot: This Mexican native looks like an agave, but it’s not. It’s agave’s cute and spineless cousin. This variety is covered with dark burgundy spots that look like chocolate chips scattered over its smooth blue-green leaves. These distinctive spots are at their most colorful in full sun. In late spring and summer, pink flowers attract hummingbirds and beneficial insects. Manfreda needs good drainage and protection from winter rain.

For more on “Life After Lawn,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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