En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Bloom stalks on agave 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
6 ratings

Wednesday - September 26, 2007

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Bloom stalks on agave plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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 day it's growing taller and bigger, and it's really scary. Do you have any idea what this is? And do we need to kill it?

ANSWER:

No, no, no, don't kill it. You are about to be blessed with blooms, and it sounds like a bunch of them, all at once. That's the good news. The bad news is that agaves, often referred to as "Century Plants" only manage to develop the resources to bloom once in their lives, and then they die. If you cut off the budding blooms, we're not sure what will happen, but we'd be willing to bet the agave will still die, as it has put all of its energy into flowering, which leads to seeds, which leads to reproduction, which is why all living organisms exist, to reproduce themselves.

You didn't say which agave you had, but we have picked two, Agave havardiana (Havard's century plant) and Agave parryi (Parry's agave), links on which you will find some basic information about the species. Also, a couple of pictures may help you visualize what is going on. It takes anywhere from 8 to 40 years for an agave to bloom (not really a century), and it's considered quite an event when one does make it. Once it has bloomed, the bloom stalk will dry and the plant itself will begin to shrivel and turn dark. At whatever time it becomes unattractive, you might as well remove it from your garden-carefully, the thorns are the last thing to shrivel. You probably have had some "pups", small agaves, develop around the parent plant. If you wish to continue the agaves, these pups will now become the ones that will produce blooms for the next generation of gardeners.

 

From the Image Gallery


Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

Parry's agave
Agave parryi

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Problems with Agave americana in Comfort TX
November 09, 2009 - We have lost a huge agave americana and are not able to find out what to do for our others. The one we lost was rotted or eaten (beetles?) at the base and the whole thing just fell over. We have a l...
view the full question and answer

Bugs on yucca plant in New Jersey
August 06, 2008 - I noticed small bugs ALL OVER 4 established yucca plants all near each other. They may look like Halticotoma valida but I'm not positive. There is no brown on the leaves except for the large amount...
view the full question and answer

Agave with large stem growing
May 01, 2011 - It is a large stem growing from my agave plant in the middle of it. It looks scary and ugly, what is it? Is it poisonous? Is it rare? It gets taller and taller everyday, what to cut it.
view the full question and answer

Film growing on prickly pear from Austin
September 28, 2012 - We've just xeriscaped our front & back yards. Two of the spineless prickly pear cacti have a beige film growing on the paddles. The film is now moving further up the cactus, and one of the upper pad...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for Arlington TX
February 10, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I just moved to Arlington, TX. I am trying to create a container garden on my apartment balcony. What flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit combinations can I put together that wil...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center