RHS Plant of the Year 2024 third place: Agave ‘Praying Hands’

A new patio succulent with unique shape and colouring makes a superb specimen for a small but sunny space

Sharing the podium with Prunus ‘Starlight’ and Cosmos Cherry Chocolate, a new agave has stood out among stiff competition from 19 other finalists to be placed third in the 2024 RHS Chelsea Plant of The Year. Here’s everything you need to know about this unique new succulent.

Fashionable ‘mangave’ in a unique new shape

The latest in the rapidly expanding ‘mangave’ series of patio succulents, developed in North America, comes in a striking new shape. The captivating structure and colouring makes ‘Praying Hands’ instantly appealing, especially to gardeners who enjoy plants with a more modern aesthetic rather than a traditional look.
The agave’s dramatic sculptural form is created by each shiny, succulent green leaf arching upwards and inwards. Each leaf is tipped with a sharp rusty red point more than a centimetre long, with the rusty colouring continuing down the edge of each leaf. Although the leaf tips are sharply pointed, the way they curve into the centre of the plant minimises the risk of a scratch.
The teardrop-shaped plant is neat and compact, reaching little more than 30cm in height, so is the ideal centrepiece for a collection of small cacti and other succulent plants where space is tight.

The latest in a popular series

Agave ‘Praying Hands’ is the latest offering from Hans Hansen, one of North America’s finest plant breeders, who works on a wide variety of plants.
The origin and the name are interesting. ‘Mangave’ succulents were developed from two different wild succulent plants growing in Mexico, which were originally classified separately as Manfreda and Agave. The two genera hybridised, and the resulting plants were named x Mangave.

Studying the plants more closely, botanists later realised that the groups were in fact too similar to be separated, so they are all now botanically known as Agave. However, the name mangave, and the plants’ marketing catchphrase Mad About Mangave, have stuck.
Thirty varieties are now available. ‘Praying Hands’ is the result of crossing ‘Bloodspot’, which has rusty edges to its wide rosette of speckled leaves, with a form of Agave ocahui that has narrow, pointed green leaves. The result is a plant with the distinctive teardrop shape created by the upright, inward turning leaves.

Growing the ‘Praying Hands’ agave

Agave ‘Praying Hands’ is best suited to growing in well-drained compost in a terracotta pot, or a pot whose colouring shows off both the structure and colouring of the plant – pale blue, perhaps.
‘Praying Hands’ appreciates good drainage and all-day sunshine, so plant in a gritty peat-free compost, mulch with grit and stand the pot on pot feet to ensure good drainage.

‘Praying Hands’ is hardy only to -5C (RHS H3), so needs the protection of a conservatory, greenhouse or bright windowsill in winter. It matures to 25cm (10in) high and wide.

Where can I buy Agave ‘Praying Hands’?

You can buy Agave ‘Praying Hands’ from Coastal SucculentsCrocusThompson & Morgan and some other mail order suppliers.

More inspiration

Meet the winners up close

Join us at RHS Chelsea to discover the outstanding new plants selected for first, second and third place in the 2024 RHS Plant of the Year competition
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