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

Saturday - April 20, 2013

From: Jacksonville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Propagation, Pruning
Title: Century Plant
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a century plant that has just begun to bloom. I have a transplanted a few pups, successfully. I am wondering how I am to go about removing the mother plant once it blooms and dies. I'm reading that the sap can cause severe reactions. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

Congratulations on transplanting your agave (century plant) pups successfully. Agaves summon up energy to bloom and then subsequently die anywhere between 8 and 40 years, (the 100 years is a misnomer) will produce new plants (pups) that can be gently removed and replanted. Handling the pups and the mother plant takes some muscle and a lot of care as the large parent leaves have long, sharp spines that are very dangerous if they get close to skin or eyes. Once the mother plant has bloomed and the pups removed and transplanted it is time to tackle the parent plant. Leather gloves, long sleeves and pants will protect your skin from the sap. The parent plant can be chopped or cut into manageable sized pieces with an ax or tree saw. Start by taking off the outer leaves and when enough have been removed then carefully tip the plant over so that you can work on the rest. Try to remove most of the woodiest part of the root too. Retrieve any additional pups you find and transplant them too.

Here are some previous Mr. Smarty Plant answers about removing the pups and transplanting them if you need some additional suggestions. Also some information about preserving the flower stalk.

 

From the Image Gallery


Parry's agave
Agave parryi

Parry's agave
Agave parryi

Parry's agave
Agave parryi

More Pruning Questions

Pruning overgrown Texas sage
February 15, 2016 - Texas sage bushes have been left to grow like mini trees. Can we have trimmed back to get a 'full' bush? Bottom 2 feet of plant look so dead. Will it sprout again as a bush if trimmed back and do...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native peach in Austin, TX.
June 18, 2015 - I planted two five gallon Texas Star peach trees last February but didn't have the nerve to prune them back to knee height. After having been convinced that this is a good thing to do, I'd like to k...
view the full question and answer

What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
June 27, 2008 - During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of Burning Bush in Missouri
October 15, 2008 - I live in MO and am pretty sure I have burning bushes on either side of my deck. My question is that they are huge and overgrown but I feel if I cut them lower and shape the sides up I will be left w...
view the full question and answer

Blackfoot daisy declining in Austin
September 04, 2010 - My Blackfoot Daisies have grown large, bushy, have bloomed well over the past two summers. Now parts of the plants are drying up, dying. Will pruning out the dead parts help the plants to survive, or ...
view the full question and answer

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