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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - March 12, 2013

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Cacti and Succulents
Title: What to do with agave after it blooms from Phoenix AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello! I have 2 century plants in the process of blooming. How exciting!! I've never really seen it before. Anyway, what do I then do with the dying/dead plant. Simply dig it up and trash it? Thanks for your help Karen

ANSWER:

There are 9 different species of the genus Agave that are referred to as "century" plants. This has reference to the fact that this plant lives for anywhere from 8 to 40 years (not a century) before it blooms, after which it dies. . Arbitrarily, we will choose Agave parryi ssp. parryi (Century plant) as an example. It grows natively in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in desert conditions. Follow the plant link to our webpage on this plant, where you will learn it gets really BIG, spiny and unforgiving.

The agave dies after it blooms because it has dedicated all of its energy to producing the blooms, and then the seeds. Yes, after it is thoroughly dead, you will want to dig it up and dispose of it. However, from this previous Mr. Smarty Plants you can get information on how to propagate, and therefore perpetuate, your agave from the offshoots around it. And notice also in that article the cautions about working around the old plant and disposal of the remains.

 

From the Image Gallery


Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

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