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

Thursday - January 01, 2009

From: Denver, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Century plant offshoots in Denver
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Each year I get a small "baby" Century Plants in the early winter..December - January, But it dies off before summer. We live in Denver, CO My main plant is doing fine. Also, should I cut the lower "dead" leaves? Thank you

ANSWER:

There are nine different agaves with the common name "Century Plant" in our Native Plant Database; however, none of them is shown to be native to Colorado. Just to have a reference point, we chose Agave americana (American century plant) and did some research on it. We are curious-is this plant outside or indoors or in a greenhouse? The reason we ask is that agaves cannot tolerate temperatures in the teens without damage, as they are hardy in Zones 9 to 11. Looking at the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, it looks like the area around Denver ranges from Zone 4b (average minimum temperatures -30 to -25 deg. F.) to Zone 5b (-15 to -10 deg. F.). If your agave is outside in that kind of temperatures, it must be a wonder plant. So, we're assuming you have your agave in a large pot, in a sheltered location. Under those circumstances, and just guessing, really, we would think that the "mother" plant, although putting out a sucker or adventitious shoot for propagation, really doesn't want to share the nutrients in the pot with her offspring, and thus it dies. We understand that these suckers are very easily removed by just pulling them out, and can then be planted in another pot and allowed to live and grow. Use a standard cactus potting mix, and give it a little moisture-not too much, this is a desert plant-and see how it does. Since you say this usually happens in December to January, now would be the time to watch for a shoot's appearance, and prepare to transplant.  

In answer to your question about cutting off the lower dead leaves, see this University of Colorado Cooperative Extension Service Agave americana website. Note the drawing of an agave, with lower branches or spines or whatever clipped off close to the trunk. Be prepared to protect yourself when you do so, and be advised that the sap can be allergenic, and cause severe allergic problems if it gets on the skin. Long sharp clippers, tough gloves and disposal in a heavy paper sack that the spines won't rip apart are the order of the day.

Pictures of Agave americana

 

More Transplants Questions

Transplanting trumpet creeper in Prairie City, IA
August 22, 2011 - I have a Trumpet Creeper that I would like to transplant. How do you do that?
view the full question and answer

B1 for transplant shock in non-native bamboo?
January 24, 2009 - I am wondering about the details as I wish to transplant some bamboo. I do not know the actual variety, as I have at least 2 types, but will take a cutting to a high end nursery.Some of this is about ...
view the full question and answer

Sumacs under live oaks dying in Austin
August 08, 2010 - Converted my yard to native plants last fall. All of the fragrant and evergreen sumacs are dying off one by one - they have never thrived. I ensure they get a good soaking at least once a week. I w...
view the full question and answer

Blossom fall after rain on Polystachys lutea, Shrimp Lollipop
July 17, 2008 - I live in San Antonio and had previously bought shrimp lollipop plants and after the rain we had recently all the blooms fell off. So my question is did it die or should I just leave it alone?
view the full question and answer

Moving Century plants in Norwalk CA
September 15, 2009 - I have two large Century plants that are each 10 1/2 years old. One is 4'x5' tall and wide with about 8-10 small shoots. The smaller in about 3 1/2'x 5' with about 6 shoots. They've grown too l...
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