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

Wednesday - April 10, 2013

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Century plant leaves falling over from San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Have a large century plant about % feet tall. The leaves are falling over. Can you tell me what to do to avoid this.

ANSWER:

Since we don't know what "% feet"means, we hope you accidentally hit the shift key and meant to say "5 feet." There are 10 plants in our Native Plant Database with the common name "Century Plant;" of these, all are members of the Agavaceae (Agave) genus. Of those, 7 are native to Texas, but none are as tall as 5 ft., so maybe you really meant "% ft." You may, of course, have an agave which is non-native to North America that is taller, but since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which that plant is being grown; in your case, Bexar County, the natives are all we have information on.

Anyway, since we don't know specifically which agave you have, we will choose Agave parryi ssp. parryi (Century plant) for an example. Now to figure out what is making the leaves droopy. First. we must ask you a rhetorical question. ("Rhetorical" means you don't have to answer it) Has your Century Plant recently bloomed? If so, the agave is dying. The agave takes about 8 to 40 years (not a century) to bloom and then, having done so, has exhausted all its energy blooming and begins dying. The plant will nearly always have "pups" which can be transplanted before the mother plant completely passes away.

Beyond that, we are at something of a loss, but we found several websites which should be able to help you. Often problems with desert plants like this involve too much water, not enough sun or poor drainage, causing the roots to stand in water and rot. Read these sites and see if you can find a cure for your plant.

Arizona Cooperative Extension: Problems and Pests of Agave, Aloe, Cactus and Yucca

Growing on the Edge Droopy Agave Leaves

eHow: How to save a dying Agave plant

 

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

Ingestion of agave sap from Albuquerque NM
June 11, 2013 - My boyfriend was out in the Arizona desert without water for two days and sought moisture through what he thought was a yucca plant but instead we believe was agave. He sucked the moisture off the ins...
view the full question and answer

Agave with large stem growing
May 01, 2011 - It is a large stem growing from my agave plant in the middle of it. It looks scary and ugly, what is it? Is it poisonous? Is it rare? It gets taller and taller everyday, what to cut it.
view the full question and answer

Will a cut back yucca grow back in Lockbourne OH?
October 28, 2009 - I live in Ohio and recently I cut back all my plants to prepare for winter. I am wondering if my Yuccas will grow back. I cut them to ground level so only a little bit of the leaf is showing. I was...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of dead foliage on trunks of yucca in California
December 21, 2008 - There is a Yucca plant in the back yard. I want to know how to get the old foliage that has died off of the trunks, it looks kind of ragged. The foliage is about three feet from the green. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

When should cochineal bugs be on prickly pear cactus?
January 05, 2012 - I am a fibers artist that would like to harvest the cochineal bugs from the prickly pear cactus. I would like to know what time of year should I expect to find the cochineal bugs around the Austin ar...
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