Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Tuesday - May 13, 2008

From: Kansas City, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Bloom on non-native Agave attenuata
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an Agave Attenuata that has grown a long and unsightly stem.Is there a way to cut the plant portion off and re-root the plant without killing the petal portion?

ANSWER:

Are you sure you want to? Look at this page of Images of the Agave attenuata. This agave is wonderful for use in small gardens or areas where people are walking close by, because it is "unarmed". It has neither the vicious thorns not the sharp spiked leaves of the other Agaves. What you apparently have is a bloom stalk that is appearing-it can take from 10 to 20 years for the plant to bloom, and they are a stunning feature of the plant. The plant, as it grows, will drop its lower leaves until it stands on a trunk that may be 3 feet high. Then, at some point, the bloom stalk will appear. It will bloom only once, but, unlike other agaves, does not die after it blooms. You can propagate more plants from the "pups" that appear around the base of the stalk. The Agave attenuata is a native of Mexico, and we're a little surprised that you have it growing in Kansas. Even 32 deg can reduce this plant to mush. It likes some shade and it likes warmth, so we're assuming you're growing it in a sheltered spot. If the long and unsightly stem you are referring to is the trunk, the answer is no, you can't take it off the trunk and replant it, because it has no roots. Dig up the pups around the base for more plants. Here is an article from Desert Tropicals with more information.
 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Ravaged by snails
May 23, 2007 - Our Prickly Pear Cactus is being completely ravaged by snails. Is there something in my yard that could be attracting them? Is there something I can do to keep them off the plant? Also is is safe to...
view the full question and answer

Blue agave with freeze damage in Lockhart TX
March 16, 2011 - I recently planted a blue agave plant, and 4 days after I planted it the temperature dropped to 20 degrees at night. The plants are still alive but 75% of the outer limbs turned brown. What do I do wi...
view the full question and answer

Problem garden strip in Austin
May 22, 2014 - Currently I live in the west half of a duplex. There is a small strip of dirt about two feet wide between the wall and the sidewalk in the backyard. It faces west, meaning it only gets sunlight duri...
view the full question and answer

Branches of yucca being blown down in Torrance CA
August 19, 2010 - I have a Yucca tree about 30 ft tall. Lately when the wind picks up in Torrance we have had about 3 branches fall out of the tree. Can you help me with this. I don't want to cut all of the branches...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Agave americana in Comfort TX
November 09, 2009 - We have lost a huge agave americana and are not able to find out what to do for our others. The one we lost was rotted or eaten (beetles?) at the base and the whole thing just fell over. We have a l...
view the full question and answer

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