Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Century plant leaves falling over from San Antonio
April 10, 2013 - Have a large century plant about % feet tall. The leaves are falling over. Can you tell me what to do to avoid this.
view the full question and answer

Wholesale dry yucca trunks and branches from California
January 29, 2012 - Where can I buy wholesale dry yucca trunks and branches? I have spent the last hour looking for them and can only find nurseries and decorative branches.
view the full question and answer

Why are the leaves of my century plants yellowing?
June 22, 2009 - I am taking care of the Agaves (century plants) for my condo community here in Austin. They are planted in 18" or 20" pots. A couple of the plants have leaves that are yellowing around the bottom....
view the full question and answer

Eliminating agave roots in Tonto Basin AZ
April 22, 2009 - Greetings Mr. Smarty Plants, from Tonto Basin, AZ! We have numerous mature (huge!) Agave Americana plants here, and have, until recently, enjoyed them. However, we are now ready for a drastic landscap...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in Pittsburgh, PA
August 22, 2009 - I have a terraced high side lot(front of house). I currently have Yuccas growing, but they are too invasive. Can you suggest plants, shrubs, or ground covers that are not as invasive and will still ...
view the full question and answer

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