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
2 ratings

Tuesday - June 17, 2008

From: Blythe, CA
Region: California
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Large agave (century plant) flower stalk
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

HI.I live in Blythe, Ca. and have a GIANT of an agave in my back yard. It is now over 40'high and is blooming. I first noticed the stock growing at Easter when it was about 12' high. It is now taller than the power lines, the mulberry tree and the pecan tree. It is nestled between these two trees. The stalk is quite large around and when my son knocked on it the sound was solid like a tree trunk. It is still blooming and the branches reach out quite far, probably at least 4 or 5 feet. The leaves on the bottom of the plant have started to droop and turn yellow so it has begun its dieing process I guess.Is this an unusual size? Is it something that needs to be recorded or made note of? I have taken progress pictures of it since Easter. Something I find quite interesting are four stalks that have grown and pushed their way through the leaves. They are growing on other quite small agave plants at the base of the giant one. They, too, are blooming.and from plants that are only a few inches tall. Is this unusual? Years ago I planted cactus in a large tractor tire in my back yard. This is where it is growing and during the years it has multiplied several other plants around it. I am getting ready to leave for the summer this weekend and go to Utah to my cabin. I am concerned about what will happen with this plant while I am gone. How long does it take it to die completely? Will it fall or will it stay standing? How long a time frame do you think thi process will take? The flowers are blooming quite well.\r\nIf this is a record size plant, who should this be reported to in order to let this be known? I wish I had found this site sooner so that I could have written to you and gotten these answers before leaving for the summer. I would appreciate your response as soon as possible. Will you send me the answer by email? I REALLY appreciate your help.

ANSWER:

Apparently, your agave isn't a record. According to Center for Plant Conservation: "Some agave species have stalks that grow up to 40 feet tall." Nevertheless, we here at the Wildflower Center are VERY impressed with a 40-foot agave and would be very pleased if you could send digital images of it to us—preferably photographed with some sort of measuring device beside it such as a yard or meter stick or a person of known height. Visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read the instructions for submitting photographs under "Plant Identification".

If you contact your local newspaper or TV news, they might be interested in photographing and reporting this phenomenon. They love this sort of thing!

Don't worry about the flower stalk while you are gone this summer. They persist a long time, at least a couple of months, and it should still be standing when you return.

 

From the Image Gallery


American century plant
Agave americana

American century plant
Agave americana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Failure to bloom of red yucca from Lago Vista TX
April 09, 2013 - I am in Lago Vista - trying to find out why I can't get my red yucca to bloom. The first year they were great and now after two or three years - no measurable spikes have shown up. HELP!
view the full question and answer

Dying cactus plants
December 16, 2007 - Two large cactus plants on the grounds of our condominium complex have begun to turn yellow and appear to be dying. A "staple" of our landscaping, this is the first year that they have developed th...
view the full question and answer

Starting yucca from seed from Austin
December 24, 2012 - I would like to start a soft leaf yucca recurvifolia from seed. Is that possible? Also, I've looked for seed on dried flower stalks, and I'm not sure that what I'm finding is the seed, and I ...
view the full question and answer

Speeding up growth of Hesperaloe parviflora (red yucca)
January 12, 2012 - I have germinated Hesperaloe parviflora, Red Yucca, for our Caddo Native plant sale. I have kept in the cool greenhouse for 2 months and they are about 2 inches. A friend put one outside and they froz...
view the full question and answer

Cochineal bugs on cactus
November 18, 2008 - Mr. Smarty plants. I have purple prickly pear cactus that are developing small white flake like spots, mostly where the thorns would be. Why is this happening and how can I cure it?
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