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

Can I have success planting Adams Needle in Calgary, Alberta? Maybe.
March 23, 2009 - I live in Calgary, Alberta and am wondering if I could have success planting Adams Needle in this climate (lots of chinook winds in the winter with large fluctuations in temperatures).
view the full question and answer

Specimen evergreen for sun in Central Texas
August 28, 2010 - I'm soliciting suggestions for a specimen plant for a new garden we're building. It will be planted in a 3' square raised (18") Limestone bed. It will be full sun, Western exposure, and relative...
view the full question and answer

Plants for hanging flower boxes from Austin
July 27, 2013 - I have two long flower boxes 17" x 15" x 25 feet long one on the north side of the apt and one on the south made of metal suspended about four feet from the ground. One will get the morning sun and ...
view the full question and answer

Does the tip of the agave contain poison from Denham Spring LA
December 02, 2009 - I bent over to pick something up and got stabbed in the head with the point of a agave plant. It is about 15 years old and I measured the point-it is right at an inch long. My head did bleed and it bu...
view the full question and answer

Century plants spread through offshots from Rye TX
September 20, 2010 - How do century plants spread? Are the little ones the babies?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center