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Tuesday - December 09, 2008

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Use of Century Plant bloom as indoor decoration
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Mr. Smarty Pants, After living in Arizona and now San Antonio, I am in search of a Century Plant Bloom. I cannot have an evergreen because my cats climb them. I would shellac the stalk and blooms and place it in a weighted pot with rocks. Any ideas?


An interesting question, but unfortunately, no, we really have no idea where you could obtain a mature bloom of a Century Plant. There are several agaves that have "Century Plant" in their common names. You didn't say which agave you had in mind, but we have picked two, Agave americana (American century plant) and Agave parryi ssp. 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 involved. Because it is native to a very difficult desert environment, it takes anywhere from 8 to 40 years (not really a century) for an agave to accumulate enough energy to bloom, 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, turn dark and die.The bloom is very large, and the stalk can range from 12 to 40 feet tall. It would be difficult to remove the bloom from the plant, and even more difficult to transport, so it's doubtful that any commercial operation would provide that sort of service. Of course, we're sure you know that you couldn't remove one from private or park property without the express permission of the landowner. Preserving plants is out of our area of expertise, but we would say if you examine the pictures we have found of blooming agaves, you'll see that the blooms appear fairly fragile, and look like they would drop off with handling. 

Agave americana

Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Agave parryi ssp. parryi




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