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
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

Monday - April 29, 2013

From: Pacific Plsds, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Runaway Agave Americana from Pacific Palisades CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live near open space on Santa Monica Mountain State Park. Our Association planted non-native, invasive Agave Americanas all over the adjacent slopes, and we are trying to get the exploding pups and forest of mature ones removed, or controlled. Three are now sending up stalks. Can we prevent seeding if we remove the individual flower stalks before they dry and split open? The rhizomes are bad enough, but seeds could more easily spread to our precious park land. I'd much appreciate some advice. Thank you for all you do. We have seen Mrs. Johnson's works in our, and other states. Jill Bowman

ANSWER:

We don't quite know how to tell you this, but not only is Agave americana (American century plant) native to California but, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map, it is also native to Riverside and San Diego Counties, which is close enough to be considered native to the area. We found no indications that it was considered invasive, but you might want to read this Dave's Garden Forum page with several negative comments on the dangers of trying to remove it.

In answer to your  question on taking down the bloom stalk before it seeds out, you can certainly do so, but you will miss quite a show if you don't let the bloom stand for a while. And, the plant is going to die anyway. Century Plants live for from 8 to 40 years (not a century) before they bloom and, once they have bloomed, they die. They have been storing up the energy to reproduce all those years and then they are done.

You didn't say what Association planted the agaves, but if they are on State Park land, it would be up to the management of that park to determine whether they were to be removed and how it was to be done.

Here are links to some previous Mr. Smarty Plants answers on removing an agave:

Removing the pups

Removing the mother plant

Reasons to remove an agave

Cutting the stalk off

Bottom line: Cutting down and destroying the blooming stalk will certainly prevent seeding any more agaves, but the pups around those plants are the main source of propagation for the plant. Attacking any of those projects means attacking the mature plants, which is going to be plenty tough.

 

From the Image Gallery


American century plant
Agave americana

American century plant
Agave americana

American century plant
Agave americana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Why is my Agave suffering in Mesa, Arizona?
August 06, 2009 - I live in Mesa AZ, and have an agave that we planted 7 years ago. It grew like crazy with hardly any care whatsoever, until I cut off some of the bottom leaves and 'pups' about a month ago. Recently...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for full sun and low maintenance
May 13, 2006 - I have volunteered to plant flowers/bushes around a sign at my church. I want to plant indigenous plants so the maintenance is low but I also want attractive plants. The soil is clay and the locatio...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pool area in Florida
May 09, 2008 - My husband and I have a pool with 4 planters and are looking for plants that we can put into our screened in pool area. We live in Central Florida and looking for ideas of plants that are slow growin...
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for Yakima WA
May 11, 2013 - My condo complex has purchased large, pottery pots for around our pool. I need to choose low maintenance plants. hopefully something that takes limited water, etc.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center