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

Sunday - December 16, 2012

From: Sedona, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Preserving century plant bloom stalk from Sedona AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have the flower stalk from a century plant which I am using as a Christmas tree. Can you advise me as to what I should do to preserve it for future use? Should it be kept indoors or outdoors. Protected from the elements or not? Thanks.

ANSWER:

The only reference material we could find on this subject is from Arizona Master Gardeners Preserving an Agave Stalk. This apparently involved using it outside as a nest place for bees. Not sure that's what you had in mind.

Similar questions previously asked of Mr. Smarty Plants:

Cutting an Agave stalk in Corpus Christi TX

Century plant stalk from San Antonio TX

Preserving agave stalk from Sedona AZ

From the University of Florida Extension Drying and Preserving Plant Materials

If you follow the natural process of the blooms, they are for the purpose of setting seeds, for the continuation of the species. Some time ago, some volunteers (including this one) were working on agave seeds for the purpose of cleaning them and preserving them for the future  in a Seed Bank. They were not attractive at that point. It's really quite straightforward, the agave blooms, the blooms produce seed pods, the seed pods are rather ugly and black, and then they fall off.

If you have the time and the stalk, you could certainly do some experimentation on your own. You could try taking down the stalk before the blooms changed to seed pods. Our intuition tells us this would just mean the blooms would die all that much more quickly, and all the years of productivity that the agave had spent producing those  blooms, which is fatal for the agave, would be wasted. And the dead stalk would be constantly dropping stuff on the carpet, so we would certainly recommend that you keep it outside.

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Bringing upright a leaning cholla cactus
August 29, 2013 - I have a 3 ft. tall Cylindropuntia bigelovii that fell over after recent rains. I righted it and supported it with garden stakes for about a month. I was afraid to pull too hard on the low...
view the full question and answer

Mulching Spring Bulbs in Upstate NY
October 25, 2010 - Just planted tulip bulbs for Spring. The Parks Department then put 4 inches of mulch on top. Will the tulips be able to get through and bloom come Spring? Is mulch a good winterizer for them? Indoor c...
view the full question and answer

Plants to accompany cactus and agave
October 09, 2005 - What plants would look well with cactus and agave to soften the look of spikiness? Also, a homeowner in our association wants the association to plant a pyracantha at the corner of the street to preve...
view the full question and answer

Can non-native Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in Round Rock, Texas?
July 01, 2014 - Can the Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in the Round Rock Texas area or is this area too hot for it?
view the full question and answer

Loss of bloom stalk on Yucca filamentosa from Scotch Plains NJ
April 27, 2013 - We have 3 Yucca filamentosa L. planted together, in NJ. A friend of ours was helping to remove the weeds, little did she know and removed the blooming stalk from the plants. By the time I saw, it was ...
view the full question and answer

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