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
1 rating

Friday - May 07, 2010

From: Yuma, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Should a bloom stalk be cut down in Yuma AZ?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a plant in my front yard that looks like an aloe vera. It doesn't have any thorns or needles but does have a tall stalk like stem coming from the middle of it. The "stalk" is now approx. 5' tall and growing. My neighbors have told me that I need to cut it off or it will die but I have no idea what kind of plant it is or how to care for it. Please help.

ANSWER:

Sounds like you have either a yucca or an agave, and that is a  bloom stalk emerging. Either way, don't cut it off, you'll miss a show. If your neighbors think it will die if you don't cut it off, and it's an agave, they are half right. An agave, also known as "century plants," can take up to 60 years to gather enough energy to bloom. The bloom is spectacular, and then the agave dies, because of all the energy it has used to reproduce itself. If you cut the  bloom stalk off before it blooms, you will miss the  blooms and the agave will die anyway. If it's a yucca, leave it until it has bloomed, cut off the dead stalk because it's unsightly, and it will probably bloom next year, and every year for some time. An exception to this is the Hesperoyucca whipplei (chaparral yucca), which does die after blooming.

Yuccas that bloom but do not die native to Arizona:

Yucca angustissima (narrowleaf yucca)

Yucca baccata (banana yucca)

Yucca baileyi var. navajoa (Navajo yucca)

Yucca elata (soaptree yucca)

Yucca schidigera (Mojave yucca)

Agaves that bloom once and die native to Arizona:

Agave americana (American century plant)

Agave parryi (Parry's agave)

Agave parryi ssp. parryi (Parry's agave)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Hesperoyucca whipplei

Yucca angustissima

Yucca baccata

Yucca baileyi var. navajoa

Yucca elata

Yucca schidigera

Agave americana

Agave parryi

Agave parryi

Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Agave parryi ssp. parryi

 

 

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Practicality of growing bluebonnets in Germany
July 28, 2006 - I am originally from Texas, but I am living in Washington and moving to Germany for the military. I desperately miss bluebonnets and my husband picked up a big bag for me as a present and have no ide...
view the full question and answer

Germination of Purple Clematis from Junction TX
October 31, 2013 - I have some Purple Leather Vine seeds I want to share and want help learning to germinate. Can anyone there help me find interested recipients?
view the full question and answer

Will sprouts under pecan trees become producing trees in Jefferson Co., AL?
May 30, 2009 - Do pecan trees that sprout up underneath existing pecans trees ever amount to anything such as producing and bearing pecans?
view the full question and answer

Native habitate sunlight as opposed to artificial light
March 26, 2006 - Does a plant grow best in sunlight or artificial light?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of endangered plant Texas trailing phlox from Carrollton TX
December 26, 2013 - 1. How many seeds does the Texas trailing phlox produce per season? 2. Can the seeds be taken from a living plant without hurting it? Thank You!
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