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

Monday - June 22, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Why are the leaves of my century plants yellowing?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am taking care of the Agaves (century plants) for my condo community here in Austin. They are planted in 18" or 20" pots. A couple of the plants have leaves that are yellowing around the bottom. At first I thought it might be under watering - I soak them once every other week for about two minutes. Now I'm starting to think it might be over watering. They are all lined up facing West and the ones on the north end of the line up are the ones experiencing the most yellowing. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

The term Century Plant is applied to eight different Agaves in our NPIN Database.  Since Agaves are adapted to surviving in dry environments, over watering is probably more of a threat in your case than under watering.

While some yellowing of lower foliage is normal in Agaves, this could be a case of salt burn which is a result of build up of soluble salts in the soil. Another sign of salt build up is the accumulation of a white residue on the outside of clay pots or on the rim of plastic pots and on the surface of the soil. This condition can be taken care of with leaching which in effect flushes the excess minerals out of the pot.

To accomplish this, give the plants a normal watering and wait  for thirty minutes to an hour. Then pour an amount of water that is four to five time the volume of of the soil in the pot, allowing it to drain through the hole in the pot. Discard the drained water, and wash out the saucer before returning the pot to it.

I'm including a link to an article on watering guidelines from  Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, and a link that describes the leaching process.

 

 

 

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

Suitable container plants for Austin
October 23, 2012 - Hi, I see some info on native house plants, but not much. I live in an apartment that doesn't get much direct sun (maybe 2 hours a day) -- is there anything for me native-wise (Austin) if I have to h...
view the full question and answer

How to remove plume from Yucca elephantipes in NJ?
August 02, 2011 - In Manahawkin, NJ, how do we cut plume (2" diameter) off 10' Yucca elephantipes?
view the full question and answer

When should cochineal bugs be on prickly pear cactus?
January 05, 2012 - I am a fibers artist that would like to harvest the cochineal bugs from the prickly pear cactus. I would like to know what time of year should I expect to find the cochineal bugs around the Austin ar...
view the full question and answer

Bloom stalks on agave plants
September 26, 2007 - Hi, We have Agave plants in our garden for years. But in the past few weeks, we noticed a giant asparagus looking thing growing out in the middle of the plants. We don't know what it is, but every d...
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