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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

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