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
17 ratings

Wednesday - June 10, 2009

From: Mountain Home, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Agave americana/Century Plant care and life cycle.
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

How often do century plants bloom? Do you have info on how to care for them?

ANSWER:

Agave americana (American century plant) – also known as Maguey – and many other agaves only bloom after years of maturing, and die after the bloom is spent. The plant life span is variable; its bloom triggering process is not yet understood. Ten years is reported to be a typical age for the bloom to occur, but it can be many more. While the original plant dies, it has usually left a number of offshoots, "pups", at the base which repeat the growth cycle and mature into next generation plants. Left untended, the plant can multiply and spread vigorously.

Since Agave americana(American century plant) is a native of the desert Southwest, it thrives in sunny, dry conditions. It needs little water (or fertilizer) and doesn't tolerate poor drainage. Exposure to winter temperatures down in the teens can permanently damage the leaves.

Agave leaves are spine-tipped and potentially hazardous. In picking a site, be aware of their proximity to walkways, and leave room for growth, since the rosette becomes quite wide.

Other agave species are sometimes referred to and sold as "Century Plant", since the name gets used rather generically.

 

From the Image Gallery


American century plant
Agave americana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Cactus failing to thrive in New York City
November 21, 2008 - My cactus seems to be either weak or dying. Its long stems are bending and softer than the rest. What is happening to it?
view the full question and answer

Trimming of dead foliage on trunks of yucca in California
December 21, 2008 - There is a Yucca plant in the back yard. I want to know how to get the old foliage that has died off of the trunks, it looks kind of ragged. The foliage is about three feet from the green. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Native perennial winter plants for Waco, TX
November 03, 2004 - I live in the Waco area, and would like to know winter plants that I could use that would come back each year, flowering or otherwise.
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Agave suckers
November 18, 2014 - I'm trying to transplant Dragon Toes Agave suckers. Is this similar to other agave pup transplants?
view the full question and answer

Growing Variegated Century Plants in Portugal
February 09, 2011 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I am contacting you from Portugal, because of century plant(Agave americana). I had one of that plants and I collected the seeds, which I planted, but I am quite disappointed ...
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