Manfreda and Polianthes

Tony Avent
Sun, 03 Dec 2006 05:21:49 PST

Back in the 1980's, when we were in the midst of global cooling, we 
tried quite a few Polianthes tuberosa selections.  They were fine if 
winter temps. didn't get much below 5 degrees F.  If the temps dropped 
to 0 F, we would loose 100% of the green leaf ones.  Interestingly, one 
of the creamy edged forms (from Jim) made it through the 0F winters and 
still is doing fine.  I'm not sure if this is a hardier genotype or if 
it simply doesn't have the level of virus of the commonly grown 
green-leaf types. 

We have only been growing P. gemniflora since 2003, but it's been fine 
since then, down to 8 degrees F.  The P. x bundrantii hybrids were 
disappointingly weak, after winters of 8 degrees F.  P. bifida, P. 
howardii, and P. platyphylla were not hardy below 10 degrees F. in our 

The xMangave (Manfreda x agave) was grown from seed collected in the 
wild of  Mexico by Carl Schoenfeld of Yucca Do.  I went to YD in 2003 to 
witness the first flowering of the hybrid, which, to my knowledge is 
only the 2nd bi-generic hybrid from the wild.  FYI, there were 2 hybrid 
seedlings, but the second one has not been released.  We are still 
looking for someone to publish the hybrid name.  For the variegated 
plant nuts out there, we have xMangave 'Macha Mocha' with a wide creamy 
border and a wide creamy center.Keep in mind that since bi-generic 
hybrids upset taxonomists view of the world order, there is already a 
renewed push to combine agave and manfreda in to the same genus.  This 
is more curious since phylogeny work shows that agaves are actually most 
closely related to about breeding possibilities for 

I hope this helps.

Tony Avent
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
phone 919 772-4794
fax  919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it least three times" - Avent

James Waddick wrote:
> Dear Dennis, Steve and all;
> 	I think subject of Manfreda x Polianthes hybrids is a 
> fascinating new topic, but it got me thinking.
> 	I grow three species of Polianthes and always bring them in 
> for winter, but how hardy are they outdoors?  I did a quick Google 
> and came up with Zone 6 - 7 - 8 and 9 !  just for P. tuberosa, the 
> most common species.  Surely someone in PBS grows them out doors with 
> success. I'd sure like to hear what species you grow outdoors and how 
> hardy they have been.
> 	Likewise does anyone grow any of the other Manfreda species 
> in cooler climates?  I always assumed they were too tender. And M 
> virginica has the widest range (and tolerance?).
> 	So who is growing which species and where.
> 	Just FYI you can see some other Polianthes sp at 
> 	The author of the article on the hybrids suggests that these 
> crosses have been made before. Anyone grow any of these or are they 
> available commercially ?
> 	I did come across the "mangave" a possible  "hybrid between 
> Manfreda variegata and Agave celsii [A. mitis] "
> 	Thanks for bringing up this topic.		Jim W.

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