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
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

Worms in non-native snake plant from Hillsborough NC
September 17, 2011 - I purchased a snake plant this summer for my screened in porch. I did not repot it and left it in the plastic pot in came it. I was about to repot the plant to bring it in and noticed there are worm...
view the full question and answer

White spotting on prickly pear cactus
July 28, 2015 - Hello- I have large prickly pear cacti and just noticed large white spotting on some of the leaves. I also see some black bugs and apparently they are the problem.They are about 1/4" long. How can I ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of red yucca from Lago Vista TX
April 09, 2013 - I am in Lago Vista - trying to find out why I can't get my red yucca to bloom. The first year they were great and now after two or three years - no measurable spikes have shown up. HELP!
view the full question and answer

Container plants for cool weather in Cypress TX
October 02, 2011 - I am a novice gardener and I am looking for some ideas on potted plants for the fall/winter. They would be covered by a roof, but still susceptible to the elements. What can be planted now that will...
view the full question and answer

Removing faded flowers from plants in Georgetown, DE
July 28, 2012 - I bought a chamase rose quartz that was in bloom. now the buds are dead, should i remove them or just leave them on the plant. they wont just fall off. and the tips of the plant has new growth.
view the full question and answer

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