Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - March 12, 2013

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Cacti and Succulents
Title: What to do with agave after it blooms from Phoenix AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello! I have 2 century plants in the process of blooming. How exciting!! I've never really seen it before. Anyway, what do I then do with the dying/dead plant. Simply dig it up and trash it? Thanks for your help Karen

ANSWER:

There are 9 different species of the genus Agave that are referred to as "century" plants. This has reference to the fact that this plant lives for anywhere from 8 to 40 years (not a century) before it blooms, after which it dies. . Arbitrarily, we will choose Agave parryi ssp. parryi (Century plant) as an example. It grows natively in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in desert conditions. Follow the plant link to our webpage on this plant, where you will learn it gets really BIG, spiny and unforgiving.

The agave dies after it blooms because it has dedicated all of its energy to producing the blooms, and then the seeds. Yes, after it is thoroughly dead, you will want to dig it up and dispose of it. However, from this previous Mr. Smarty Plants you can get information on how to propagate, and therefore perpetuate, your agave from the offshoots around it. And notice also in that article the cautions about working around the old plant and disposal of the remains.

 

From the Image Gallery


Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Problems with Strawberry Hedgehog cactus from Temple TX
June 03, 2012 - I had purchased a Strawberry hedgehog Cactus (echinocereus stramineus) a few years ago from the Wildflower Center's annual plant sale and planted it then. It has now started to brown from bottom to t...
view the full question and answer

Cleaning up Adams Needle yucca in Vancouver Island BC
May 19, 2009 - We have Adam's needle yucca's in our the flower bed of our newly purchased home here on Vancouver Island BC. They thrive and produce impressive flowers. How do I clean them up in the spring time ...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering Yucca Seedlings in Illinois
October 02, 2013 - I have many yucca seedlings I started this year. My question is what do I need to do with them to overwinter here in Northern Illinois and when do I plant them in the ground for best chances of survi...
view the full question and answer

Information about prickly pear cactus for school project
October 19, 2012 - Hello my name is Case Danzeiser. I go to a middle school called Clint Small Middle School in Austin, Texas. We are doing a species study on a native Texas plants and animals. I choose to study the pri...
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.