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
1 rating

Monday - November 01, 2010

From: St Pete Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Reasons to leave a century plant in place in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you please list ALL the reasons to leave a century plant (as opposed to cutting it way back or removing it) in the wilds of the sand dunes on the coast of Florida, other than its prominent beauty?

ANSWER:

This Mr. Smarty Plants thinks she doesn't know the entire story that goes with this century plant.  It sounds like there might be a difference of opinion between/among family members or neighbors about what to do about this century plant. Here are some things I don't know about the century plant that would affect my advice to leave it or cut it down: 

  • 1.  Which century plant is it?  There is one that the USDA Plants Database shows occurring in Florida, Agave americana (American century plant), but it is possible it could be one of the others that are native to North America or even a non-native.  
  • 2.  Is it in good shape?   Has it recently bloomed?  If so, it is going to die.  It will put out 'pups' for the next generation but the main plant is a goner.  You can read more about the life cycle of the century plant in the answer to a previous question. 
  • 3.  Who wants to cut it down or trim it back—and why?  Is it encroaching on someone's property, blocking someone's view or posing a hazard with its spine-tipped leaves? 

It seems to me that if the century plant is:

  • 1. a North American native and/or doesn't seem to be spreading agressively; 
  • 2. it appears to be in good shape (i.e., isn't dying after having bloomed or isn't diseased);
  • 3. it isn't blocking someone's view, isn't posing a hazard to man or beast, or otherwise interfering with someone's personal or property rights—then, it is fine where it is and doesn't need to be trimmed back or removed.
 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Sun loving plants for flower bed by the pool in Weatherford Texas
October 03, 2011 - We have a 40' long x 2 1/2' wide flowerbed along our pool. It is in full sun with the pool deck across the front and a 6' privacy fence across back. Also, the level of the bed is 18" below the l...
view the full question and answer

Strange form of Dasylirion sp. (sotol)
December 27, 2008 - Mr. Smarty: I have a client with a huge (2 ft. diameter trunk), multi-headed dasylirion. On one or more of the heads, the leaves arch inward instead of outward. Someone said this is because of an inju...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Agave suckers
November 18, 2014 - I'm trying to transplant Dragon Toes Agave suckers. Is this similar to other agave pup transplants?
view the full question and answer

Lesions on Agave Leaves in Spring Branch, Texas
January 14, 2011 - I have a giant Agave americana that was beautiful until recently. Several of the leaves have lesions, some of them quite drastic, on the last third of the leaf. What is causing this?
view the full question and answer

Potential longevity of Century Plant bloom stalk from Marana AZ
January 23, 2013 - What is the potential longevity of a Century Plant stalk/bloom? I would like to use it in my yard for ornamentation. Will it last for weeks, months or years or decompose relatively quickly?
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center