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 - April 28, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Can I save my century plant by cutting the flowering stalk in Austin, TX? Probably not.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Our century plant is starting to sprout it's flower (four feet). If we cut it down can we save the plant? Thank you.

ANSWER:

The Century Plant Agave americana (American century plant) is a spectacular plant, and part of that spectacle occurs when it flowers. Now it doesn't take it one hundred years to flower, but to some folks it seems that way. The plant has a monocarpic or semelparous life cycle which means that it will flower only one time and then die.

From the reading that I have done, removing the flowering stalk will not keep the plant from dying. Flowering is controlled by changes in hormonal levels that affect the allocation of resources inside the plant that eventually lead to its demise.  A lot of energy and resources are expended by the plant in producing the flowering stalk and the flowers.

If you wish, you can remove the stalk and see what happens. I think it would be more fun to watch the flowering proceed; maybe make a photo log.

The plant should be producing pups which can be used to propagate new plants .

We get questions similar to yours from time to time, so I have created links to several previously answered questions below:

#1587

#1427

#4082

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Pruning a rough-leaf dogwood in spring
May 04, 2012 - Is it OK to trim a rough leaf dogwood now? Should I spray after trimming? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Getting a senna to fill out from Irvine CA
May 30, 2013 - I have a Senna of some kind, started from a seed by a friend. I got it as a small,six in high) seedling. After two years it is now blooming beautifully, but is a single thin stem 4 feet tall with ve...
view the full question and answer

Care for indoor ivy from Carollton TX
January 26, 2012 - I have an indoor ivy that is on a pole. The pole is breaking, and I need to separate the ivy from the pole with the least amount of trauma to the plant. How should I do this? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Premature leaf drop on Red Maple in Kentucky
June 25, 2008 - I have a ten foot Red Maple tree that has been set out for 4 years. Its leaves have slowly turned colors until it currently looks like fall. The leaves are not falling off nor is there yet any s...
view the full question and answer

Trimming native Yucca filamentosa for winter in Illinois
October 18, 2008 - I live in northern IL and I have approximately 5 yucca plants, Adams needle, my question is do I need to trim them down for winter for best growth the next year?
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