Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
view the full question and answer

Damage to Yucca rostrata from Nottingham, England
February 26, 2014 - Hi, I have a yucca rostrata which has had its head snapped off in high winds (we live in Nottingham, England) we have left the trunk in the ground, will this re grow?? What is the best thing to do wit...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pool area in Florida
May 09, 2008 - My husband and I have a pool with 4 planters and are looking for plants that we can put into our screened in pool area. We live in Central Florida and looking for ideas of plants that are slow growin...
view the full question and answer

When may I remove seed heads from yuccas?
June 07, 2010 - Soft tip yuccas dominate my home's landscape. When is the best time to remove the heavy seed heads after flowering? In addition to being difficult to work around, the pods seem to attract infestatio...
view the full question and answer

Century plant leaves falling over from San Antonio
April 10, 2013 - Have a large century plant about % feet tall. The leaves are falling over. Can you tell me what to do to avoid this.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.