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

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

Friday - August 09, 2013

From: Fair Oaks Ranch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Taking down a Century Plant blooming stalk from Fair Oaks Branch TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our century cactus looks like it's in the final stages of blooming and I read on your site that the original plant dies. Can we go ahead and cut down the tall blooms?

ANSWER:

We assume you mean "Century plant" as we don't know anything about a "century cactus."

There are 10 plants with the common name "Century" plant native to North America, of which 7 are native to Texas. None are native, nor even very close to Bexar County, in Central Texas. All are members of the Agave genus and, since your plant may not only be not native to your area, it may even be a hybrid or native to Mexico, which means it is not in our Native Plant Database at all.

We can, however, answer your question without determining which one it is. You are correct, the "mother" plant will die after it has finished blooming, but once the blooms are well past, it is a good idea to take out the bloom stalk, as it can be quite heavy and might fall over on something or someone after it died. The main plant will linger on for a while, but there are probably numerous "pups" that are offshoots of the plant that will grow, mature and eventually will themselves send up blooms. So, if you don't want Century Plants there any more, we suggest you get those "pups" out now, while they are still small enough to be semi-manageable. And you might want to read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on killing a Century Plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Container plant in difficult sun exposure from Leander TX
June 06, 2014 - HELP!!!! I have a large Mexican terracotta pot on my front porch. This awkward area is facing westward, so receives the full dose of Texas sun after about 3 pm onward. Now here's the catch; my fr...
view the full question and answer

How to remove plume from Yucca elephantipes in NJ?
August 02, 2011 - In Manahawkin, NJ, how do we cut plume (2" diameter) off 10' Yucca elephantipes?
view the full question and answer

Winter damage to yucca in Winona MN
April 23, 2009 - This past winter was hard on my established yucca plant and most of the foliage has discolored and it is not very pleasing to look at. What should I do about the discolored portion? Should I remove ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Native Cactus Indoors in Dallas
December 17, 2015 - I have a Chihuahuan fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus uncinatus), a pincushion cactus (Epithelantha micromeris) and a horse crippler (Echinocactus texensis), which I bring in for the winter, since they te...
view the full question and answer

Native Plant Suggestions for Dripping Springs
August 02, 2011 - I have a very dry commercial property in Dripping Springs TX where the dry sand/dust isn't a good rain conductor (whenever we get rain). What can we plant there? We have no irrigation and use a rai...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center