Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

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

How to prune Opuntia ellisiana in Decatur, GA.
August 20, 2009 - Hi Mr SP--How do I go about pruning an Opuntia ellisiana? I have saws, newspaper, heavy leather gloves, goggles, etc. But my question is more about what section of the plant to cut. The base has de...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming yuccas in Brooklyn CT
July 14, 2013 - I have outdoor yucca plants that don't flower - - in full sun. Why?
view the full question and answer

Monocarpic plants for Indiana
October 06, 2005 - We were in Hawaii this summer and became acquainted with the Silversword. This plant (according to what we were told) blooms only once in it's lifetime (of 50-70 years). Are you aware of any other pl...
view the full question and answer

Prickly cactus in Williamson County, Texas
September 12, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Can you tell me what species of prickly pear cactus we have here in Williamson County? I see two listed as being here in Texas. One is the Plains variety and the other is ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.