Contact Us Host an Event 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
1 rating

Monday - November 01, 2010

From: St Pete Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Reasons to leave a century plant in place in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you please list ALL the reasons to leave a century plant (as opposed to cutting it way back or removing it) in the wilds of the sand dunes on the coast of Florida, other than its prominent beauty?

ANSWER:

This Mr. Smarty Plants thinks she doesn't know the entire story that goes with this century plant.  It sounds like there might be a difference of opinion between/among family members or neighbors about what to do about this century plant. Here are some things I don't know about the century plant that would affect my advice to leave it or cut it down: 

  • 1.  Which century plant is it?  There is one that the USDA Plants Database shows occurring in Florida, Agave americana (American century plant), but it is possible it could be one of the others that are native to North America or even a non-native.  
  • 2.  Is it in good shape?   Has it recently bloomed?  If so, it is going to die.  It will put out 'pups' for the next generation but the main plant is a goner.  You can read more about the life cycle of the century plant in the answer to a previous question. 
  • 3.  Who wants to cut it down or trim it back—and why?  Is it encroaching on someone's property, blocking someone's view or posing a hazard with its spine-tipped leaves? 

It seems to me that if the century plant is:

  • 1. a North American native and/or doesn't seem to be spreading agressively; 
  • 2. it appears to be in good shape (i.e., isn't dying after having bloomed or isn't diseased);
  • 3. it isn't blocking someone's view, isn't posing a hazard to man or beast, or otherwise interfering with someone's personal or property rights—then, it is fine where it is and doesn't need to be trimmed back or removed.
 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Central Texas plant to grow in cavity in cedar (Juniperus ashei)
February 27, 2010 - Is there a CenTX native that would be happy in a one-gallon cavity in a Cedar tree? I'd like to disguise an amputated limb. I'd consider a Bromeliad or Staghorn fern, but would prefer a native.
view the full question and answer

Does cutting off the budding agave bloom save the plant from Sunrise FL
April 30, 2010 - I have an Agave(century plant) just starting its long flower stalk. I have read the mother plant will die after flowering. Can I cut off the stalk before it flowers to save the plant? If not, how do i...
view the full question and answer

What to do about cold damage to spineless prickly pear?
March 05, 2010 - In Austin, Texas our 'spineless' prickly pear cactus is about 6' wide by 4' tall. In the last severe freeze, the top half flattened out and has remained that way. Should I cut the flattened pads o...
view the full question and answer

Lesions on Agave Leaves in Spring Branch, Texas
January 14, 2011 - I have a giant Agave americana that was beautiful until recently. Several of the leaves have lesions, some of them quite drastic, on the last third of the leaf. What is causing this?
view the full question and answer

Damage to Yucca rostrata from Nottingham, England
February 26, 2014 - Hi, I have a yucca rostrata which has had its head snapped off in high winds (we live in Nottingham, England) we have left the trunk in the ground, will this re grow?? What is the best thing to do wit...
view the full question and answer

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