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?


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 - June 13, 2007

From: Pascagoula, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Crown rot in Agave americana
Answered by: Nan Hampton


My Century Plant's leaves get soft toward the base and eventually fall over and I have to cut them off. What causes this?


It sounds as if your Agave americana (American century plant) has crown rot, probably from overwatering and/or inadequate drainage. The rot itself is caused by bacteria or fungus that enter the plants through wounds. In the desert bacteria may be introduced by weevils but that may or may not be the case for your plant in Mississippi. You should check the plant carefully for the agave weevil (it looks a lot like a boll weevil). If you find them, you should remove them and you might consider treating the plant with an environmentally-friendly pesticide. Most likely, yours is a fungal infection from overwatering and poor drainage. In that case, reduce your watering significantly and treat with an environmentally-friendly fungicide and hope for the best. You can read more about care for Agave.


From the Image Gallery

American century plant
Agave americana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

When may I remove seed heads from yuccas?
June 07, 2010 - Soft tip yuccas dominate my home's landscape. When is the best time to remove the heavy seed heads after flowering? In addition to being difficult to work around, the pods seem to attract infestatio...
view the full question and answer

Cat eating yucca stalks in England
May 07, 2013 - Is it safe for my cat to eat yucca as she is being sick and its hard to stop her
view the full question and answer

Century plant dying after bloom
April 06, 2006 - Help!! I want to save my Century Plant from dying. I have already lost one and I don't want to lose this one. Can cutting the stalk before it gets too big save this beautiful plant? Please, pleas...
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

Bloom stalks on agave plants
September 26, 2007 - Hi, We have Agave plants in our garden for years. But in the past few weeks, we noticed a giant asparagus looking thing growing out in the middle of the plants. We don't know what it is, but every d...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center