En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - April 30, 2014

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Propagation of an agave from Dripping Springs TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi there, I have a Century Agave in my backyard. It is over 6 feet tall and is now producing the center stalk. I understand that means the plant is going to die. My question is how to harvest the pups/seeds that it is supposed to produce once it flowers at the top of the stalk ( I assume since the base plant is so large, the stalk will reach impressive heights). The plant has not put out any pups on the ground. I have heard that cutting the center stalk will release some very noxious "sap" that can potentially burn your skin, so I don't want to do that. Do I have to wait for the stalk to fall on its own in order to harvest the babies, or will they fall off onto the ground? Thanks!!

ANSWER:

We think you may be a little confused on the subject of agave propagation. There are several members of the Agavaceae family, some of which are referred to as "century plants." This has to do with the belief that they don't bloom until they are 100 years old, but it can be anywhere from 8 to 60 years.There is actually no agave native to Hays County, but many different species of the genus are grown all over Central Texas, including at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, There are 15 members of the Agavaceae family native to North America, 10 of which are native to Texas, mostly in the Big Bend section of souhwest Texas. We have chosen Agave parryi ssp. parryi (Century plant) as our example; follow that plant link to our webpage on that agave for more general information and more references.

We have many, many previous answers on the agave, please read our selections to save us from repeating ourselves. Also be sure to also follow and read any additional links in these previous answers:

Huachuca City, AZ

Fair Oaks Ranch, TX

Rye, TX (this also addresses your concern about the sap from the agave)

 

From the Image Gallery


Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
June 20, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gra...
view the full question and answer

Specimen evergreen for sun in Central Texas
August 28, 2010 - I'm soliciting suggestions for a specimen plant for a new garden we're building. It will be planted in a 3' square raised (18") Limestone bed. It will be full sun, Western exposure, and relative...
view the full question and answer

Trimming back Agave havardiana
June 05, 2008 - Hi.. thanks for all the great information on Agaves. We have a number of Agave Havardiana (blue) that love where we planted them. Several have gotten HUGE. So much so that they are starting to ge...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage on Barrel Cactus in Llano TX
March 04, 2011 - I believe my barrel cactus has freeze damage. The flesh turned yellow and is now turning dark. The base is still green. If I cut off the damaged top portion, leaving the green base, should it survive?...
view the full question and answer

Seeds of agave attenuata from San Diego CA
April 16, 2012 - After the agave attenuata bloom dried up there are seeds like thing hanging on the foxtail; do I leave it until it dies or do I chop that down. Are those seeds for propagation. The leaves of the plan...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center