En Español

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 Bald Cypress in Wylie, TX
January 02, 2010 - I have a 6 year old bald cypress that sustained damage to the upper portion of its trunk a couple of years ago. Since that time it has grown more outward than upward and developed a rounder shape. I...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of crepe myrtles
January 27, 2008 - I have three crepe myrtle trees in my yard. When do I trim back the branches? What if I waited too long to trim them back? Can I still do it? How far do I trim them back? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Survival of native yaupon in The Woodlands, TX after hurricane
September 25, 2008 - One of my large native yaupons trees (8ft) fell away from a group during the hurricane. I have uprighted and tied it off for stability. Now the leaves are all brown and falling. Is the tree dead or...
view the full question and answer

Pruning a Wafer Ash to make it upright
February 11, 2005 - How do I trim a Wafer Ash? It lays on the ground. Is that normal? Does it need to be upright?
view the full question and answer

Freeze-back of Hamelia patens in winter in Texas
October 03, 2008 - Will the hamelia patens freeze back in the winter ?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center