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
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

Preservation of a Lantana Tree in New York
October 05, 2008 - I have a Lantana Tree that grew beautiful over the summer, now Winter is coming and I don't know what to do with this tree, I live in Monroe, New York. Could you please help me out. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Pruning Copper Plants
February 06, 2013 - I planted two beautiful copper plants in my front beds. They went wild during the fall, but got so leggy that I cut them back nearly to the ground, which I believe was a mistake. Will they come back o...
view the full question and answer

Removing fading blooms from iris
June 19, 2007 - Iris maintenance: when blooms begin to fade do I pluck off just the bloom? cut off the entire stalk? leave it alone? Some blooms grow on stalks without leaves and some on stalks with leaves.
view the full question and answer

Is Liatris spicata through blooming from Norman OK
July 26, 2011 - We have a Liatris spicata, I thought it was done blooming (dried tops), so I cut them off. Will it come back and bloom again? What can I do?
view the full question and answer

Non-branching mimosa tree
June 26, 2008 - I have a Mimosa Tree, just about 2 years old, grown from seed. The problem with it is that it has not branched out, it looks like one long branch growing out of the ground, about 5 feet if stood strai...
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