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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

Life span of the century plant (Agave spp.)
June 17, 2009 - I have a beautiful century plant that is blooming. what will happen once the bloom is done? What is the life span of the plant?
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Can I trim back my 20 ft Yucca plant?
May 11, 2009 - I have a yucca tree which is about 20 ft. tall, has four main trunks. I would like to prune it to approx. 10 ft. but wonder if that will kill it or if new shoots will come out up near the cut.
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No blooms on Spineless Prickly Pear in Austin
June 07, 2012 - I've had a spineless prickly pear planted in the shade for about 3 years. It has done just fine there, but has never bloomed. I recently moved it to a full sun location(I'm in north Austin) and cove...
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Freeze damage on Barrel Cactus in Llano TX
March 04, 2011 - I believe my barrel cactus has freeze damage. The flesh turned yellow and is now turning dark. The base is still green. If I cut off the damaged top portion, leaving the green base, should it survive?...
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Identification of Wood from Frying Pan Ranch Near Amarillo, TX (possibly Cholla)
April 26, 2013 - I'm doing research for a museum exhibition and have been told the "holey" piece of wood from The Frying Pan Ranch near Amarillo Texas is "chollya" but I can find no information. Can you help?
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