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

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

Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
June 20, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gra...
view the full question and answer

Preserving century plant bloom stalk from Sedona AZ
December 16, 2012 - I have the flower stalk from a century plant which I am using as a Christmas tree. Can you advise me as to what I should do to preserve it for future use? Should it be kept indoors or outdoors. Pro...
view the full question and answer

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

Smarty Plants on bio-security
June 11, 2005 - Hello, My friend and I are summer interns at the Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve Site in Freeport, Texas. Our jobs as the interns is to find a plant that is friendly to the animals around our...
view the full question and answer

Winter damage to yucca in Winona MN
April 23, 2009 - This past winter was hard on my established yucca plant and most of the foliage has discolored and it is not very pleasing to look at. What should I do about the discolored portion? Should I remove ...
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