En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - July 19, 2009

From: Tacoma, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Agave in a vase of water in Tacoma WA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a agave plant that is in a vase of water only. It was given to me about 3 years ago, still growing but rotting inside of the water. Is it suppose to be in dirt? How to I transfer into a pot without killing it?

ANSWER:

We can't believe it's still alive, period. If it dies when you transfer it to a pot, it will be because you didn't transfer it three years ago. An agave is a desert plant, it can go into the ground, but at this point, it would be better to get a bag of "cactus mix" potting soil, and get started. Take the agave out of the water, and examine it for portions of root that are NOT rotted. There is no use going to all the trouble of repotting, and putting a rotted root into the soil. You didn't say which agave you have, some of them can get quite large (although not in a vase of water) and most of them have defensive spines and sharp tips. Work with heavy leather gloves. Separate the good portions of the plant that have roots, and put each rooted section into a pot with the cactus mix in it. You can water it so it won't die of shock at being suddenly in dirt, but not too much. 

If you choose to keep the new plant indoors in a pot, the agaves are so slow-growing that you shouldn't have to transplant into a larger pot very often. They can do very very well indoors in a good light from a window. Remember, they are succulents, and like most other succulents, they need less water and can tolerate quite a bit of shade. For more information on container gardening, read this article from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center "How To Articles".

 

From the Image Gallery


Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

Parry's agave
Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana

Maguey mezortillo
Agave univittata

Nevada agave
Agave utahensis var. nevadensis

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Getting rid of Adams needle (Yucca filamentosa)
June 24, 2009 - My friend is changing her flower beds around and is wanting to eliminate an Adam's needle that has been there for several years. She has already dug it up and now is trying to get rid of all the new...
view the full question and answer

Native Plant Suggestions for Dripping Springs
August 02, 2011 - I have a very dry commercial property in Dripping Springs TX where the dry sand/dust isn't a good rain conductor (whenever we get rain). What can we plant there? We have no irrigation and use a rai...
view the full question and answer

Information about ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis)
May 06, 2008 - I recently planted some Carpobrotus edulis, Ice plant, and wanted to know if I can mulch or put stones around the entire garden and plants. They are a ground cover plant.
view the full question and answer

Large agave (century plant) flower stalk
June 17, 2008 - HI.I live in Blythe, Ca. and have a GIANT of an agave in my back yard. It is now over 40'high and is blooming. I first noticed the stock growing at Easter when it was about 12' high. It is now t...
view the full question and answer

Cleaning up Adams Needle yucca in Vancouver Island BC
May 19, 2009 - We have Adam's needle yucca's in our the flower bed of our newly purchased home here on Vancouver Island BC. They thrive and produce impressive flowers. How do I clean them up in the spring time ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center