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 Cacti and Succulents Questions

Native plants of Taos and Los Alamos NM from Houston
April 07, 2012 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, can you recommend a guidebook for the native plants of the Taos/Los Alamos region? (I'm most interested in forbs.) I'll be headed there in May--is there anything I should es...
view the full question and answer

Can non-native Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in Round Rock, Texas?
July 01, 2014 - Can the Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in the Round Rock Texas area or is this area too hot for it?
view the full question and answer

Century plants spread through offshots from Rye TX
September 20, 2010 - How do century plants spread? Are the little ones the babies?
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

Growing Variegated Century Plants in Portugal
February 09, 2011 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I am contacting you from Portugal, because of century plant(Agave americana). I had one of that plants and I collected the seeds, which I planted, but I am quite disappointed ...
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