En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Can I save my century plant by cutting the flowering stalk in Austin, TX? Probably not.

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

Repair of broken branch stump on pecan tree
July 18, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, big fan. Recently one of my pecan trees had a large branch break off, about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. The strange part was there was no clear sign of what caused the damage, i...
view the full question and answer

Pruning wax myrtles from Austin
March 29, 2011 - I've got some wax myrtles that have grown up in the last 10 years on my property line, completely volunteer. My neighbor has begun to grumble about too much shade on his yard. I'd like to trim them ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Butterfly Plants
February 11, 2013 - I am looking for detailed information on trimming common butterfly plants: crucita, cenizo, sweet-stem, whitebrush, Mexican trixis, skeleton-leaf goldeneye, white plumbago, turk's cap, desert lantana...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
August 27, 2009 - Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?
view the full question and answer

Dead leaves on yucca in Georgetown TX
October 18, 2010 - We have 2 6ft and 3 smaller soft leaf yuccas out back in a kidney shaped area with a wax myrtle and a mountain laurel. The yuccas have done great but now two of them have a large number of dead leaves...
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