How to propagate Agaves, by using the new keiking or "keiki" technique.
In horticulture keiki is an Hawaiian word, for orchids produced asexually by a mother plant, especially from phalaenopsis, and some other orchid species. The word keiki can mean "baby", "child", or literally "the little one".
The baby plant is an exact clone of the mother plant, but for Agaves there is also a great possibility to get better and more variegated baby plants by using this new technique.
Keiking vs. Traditional Coring
I have been doing the coring technique for some years by destroying and drilling down through the meristem (growing point); the center of an Agave, which would cause the Agave to make more pups.
By "damaging" the plant this way, it will usually cause an Agave to offset, and stimulate the dormant (sleeping) side buds to start growing. It tells the Agave to produce pups in order to survive. And sometimes produce pups that show better variegation than the mother plant.
So the question I asked myself. Is there a technique that gives the same, or even a better result - a technique that can produce more pups in a less damaging way, than the coring technique that I used earlier?
Yes, there is the new technique called keiking - a technique that I discovered 3 years ago by removing the lower leaves on Agave plants (Image#1), and then pasting keiki cytokinin-hormones into the nodes of the plant (Image#2). The trick is to get the paste onto the nodes before it's dried.
I used the same keiki hormone paste that is for sale on eBay and other orchids stores, which is containing these hormones. For a long time I have used the one called Budilizer, as this is very effective in making Agave pups (Image#3).
By doing this technique, the dormant (sleeping) buds will wake up, and start to grow immediately, and you can in fact see the beginning of the new Agave babies, only in a few days.
After you are finished pasting, just treat the Agave plant like you normally would, and over time (1-3 months, depending on the time of year and species [some species grow faster while others grow slower]), you will see pups emerge from where you removed the leaves and pasted the keiki hormone paste.
When the pups have reached a size of 2-3 inches (5-7,5 cm) or more, just separate them from the mother plant. Let them dry for a week in a shady place, and then put them in a pot filled with dry succulent soil and lightly moisten the soil.
And, voilà! You have just done it!