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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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Wednesday - July 31, 2013

From: Johnson City, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Bloom stalk not visibly connected to Century Plant from Johnson City, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can anyone tell my why my Century Plant is growing a bloom stalk a couple of feet away from my plant instead of up through the middle? Ive never seen one do that and it strikes me as being rather odd!

ANSWER:

There are seven species of the genus Agave native to Texas and with the common name "century plant." Since none of them are shown by the USDA Plant Profiles Maps as being native to Blanco County, we are not going to worry about which one it is. We are sure you already know that the Century Plant propagates itself not just by seeds, the product of the blooms, but by "pups" which are small copies of the mother plant. If you dug down around your plant, you would probably find many extensions of the roots, from which those pups grow. The pups can be severed from the main roots and replanted to grow and survive the original plant, which will die after blooming. We did some research and no one else seems to have reported a bloom coming up out of the ground around the plant instead of the middle of the plant. We are betting that because of some environmental problem (we don't know what) the plant chose to send its bloom up out of one of the roots not at the center of the plant. What we also don't know is if this constitutes the "once-in-a-lifetime" bloom of the main plant. After the blooming stem dies, it will be interesting to see if the main plant begins to die also. Maybe it got a second chance at life by sending one of its children out as a sacrfice, to bloom and then to die.

 

From the Image Gallery


American century plant
Agave americana

Slimfoot century plant
Agave gracilipes

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

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