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

Plants for big pots by pool in Austin
August 14, 2012 - Could you please suggest some plants to put in big pots out by my pool? They will get lots of heat and sun. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Scale on Agave attenuata from Melbourne, Australia
January 27, 2011 - I have an agave attenuata in a pot. It has been attacked by scales. I have been spraying it every 3-4 days at night with a chemical sold to me by the local gardening store. It's not helping and I am...
view the full question and answer

Why has yucca not bloomed from Sacramento CA
May 03, 2012 - I looked for an answer to my question on your list but did not find one. We have had a yucca plant that has never bloomed since we planted it about 8 years ago. I has grown tall (6-7 feet) and we ha...
view the full question and answer

Seeds of agave attenuata from San Diego CA
April 16, 2012 - After the agave attenuata bloom dried up there are seeds like thing hanging on the foxtail; do I leave it until it dies or do I chop that down. Are those seeds for propagation. The leaves of the plan...
view the full question and answer

Will cochineal insects washed from cactus plants harm adjacent Oleander?
June 11, 2015 - Will mealybugs (cochineal insects) power washed off prickly pear cactus harm adjacent oleander plants if the white fluff gets on the oleander? My neighbor asked me to power wash my prickly pears and t...
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