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

Wednesday - June 24, 2009

From: Orlando, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Will the blooming stalk of my century plant eventually tip over? Yes
Answered by: Jimmy Mills and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a century plant in bloom. Will the stalk eventually tip over? Would appreciate any Internet references on the subject.

ANSWER:

There are eight Agave species in our NPIN Database that  have century plant as part of their common name. I'm going to assume that you are referring to the American Century Plant Agave americana (American century plant) because of its spectacular flowering stalk. It is one of a group of plants that dies after it blooms. Plants with this reproductive strategy are known as monocarpic, i.e., they flower and produce fruit only once in their lifetime and then die.

Will it tip over? That depends on what you mean my "tip over."  If you're asking if it will someday fall over if not cut down first, the answer is yes.  Dead Agave flower stalks can sometimes stand for up to a year after flowering, but there is no guarantee that one won't come down much more quickly in a strong wind.  The inflorescences (flower stalks) of some agaves can top out at 40 feet.  When they fall, they can do some damage to whatever they fall on, so its a good idea to enjoy them for awhile and then remove the dead stalk in a safe manner. 

So after your plant has completed blooming, it will die. However, there should be "pups" around the  base of the plant that can be planted and will grow into a mature plants.

For more information, go to the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page and type "century plant" in the Keyword Search slot. This will bring up numerous previous questions about century plants.


Agave americana

 

 


 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Leaf loss on Cenizo in Bertram TX
November 17, 2009 - I need help with a purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) problem. Most of one of my plants started having paler, more greyish leaves, then the leaves began to fall off. It seemed to still look healthy...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Butterfly Plants
February 11, 2013 - I am looking for detailed information on trimming common butterfly plants: crucita, cenizo, sweet-stem, whitebrush, Mexican trixis, skeleton-leaf goldeneye, white plumbago, turk's cap, desert lantana...
view the full question and answer

Dead portions on oak tree in Hutchinson KS
August 22, 2011 - I have an oak tree on the property I just moved into. One tree is healthy, the other has a dead side or almost dead. It did have some new green leaves on the dead branches but not many. What should...
view the full question and answer

Spring care for Garrya ovata from Pflugerville, TX
February 24, 2014 - Hello again, Mr. S-P, I planted a Mexican silktassel in April 2012 (purchased at the WFC). It has done well, but the leaves are bronzed and splotchy from this winter's freezes. All the stems are...
view the full question and answer

Trimming a bur oak in Llano, TX
February 06, 2009 - We have a beautiful, large Burr Oak next to our house. This tree has many large lateral branches. I have trimmed dead branches, but no other trimming. It grows a lot of "suckers" during growing sea...
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