En EspaŅol

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
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

Will a cut back yucca grow back in Lockbourne OH?
October 28, 2009 - I live in Ohio and recently I cut back all my plants to prepare for winter. I am wondering if my Yuccas will grow back. I cut them to ground level so only a little bit of the leaf is showing. I was...
view the full question and answer

Information about ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis)
May 06, 2008 - I recently planted some Carpobrotus edulis, Ice plant, and wanted to know if I can mulch or put stones around the entire garden and plants. They are a ground cover plant.
view the full question and answer

Root depth of opuntia
May 15, 2007 - What can you tell me about the depth of roots of the opuntia? Does it vary with different varieties or is there formula to estimate the depth according to the mature size or to the culture - garden ...
view the full question and answer

Can I save my century plant by cutting the flowering stalk in Austin, TX? Probably not.
April 28, 2010 - Our century plant is starting to sprout it's flower (four feet). If we cut it down can we save the plant? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

What to do with agave after it blooms from Phoenix AZ
March 12, 2013 - Hello! I have 2 century plants in the process of blooming. How exciting!! I've never really seen it before. Anyway, what do I then do with the dying/dead plant. Simply dig it up and trash it? T...
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