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

Wednesday - July 31, 2013

From: Johnson City, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Bloom stalk not visibly connected to Century Plant from Johnson City, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can anyone tell my why my Century Plant is growing a bloom stalk a couple of feet away from my plant instead of up through the middle? Ive never seen one do that and it strikes me as being rather odd!

ANSWER:

There are seven species of the genus Agave native to Texas and with the common name "century plant." Since none of them are shown by the USDA Plant Profiles Maps as being native to Blanco County, we are not going to worry about which one it is. We are sure you already know that the Century Plant propagates itself not just by seeds, the product of the blooms, but by "pups" which are small copies of the mother plant. If you dug down around your plant, you would probably find many extensions of the roots, from which those pups grow. The pups can be severed from the main roots and replanted to grow and survive the original plant, which will die after blooming. We did some research and no one else seems to have reported a bloom coming up out of the ground around the plant instead of the middle of the plant. We are betting that because of some environmental problem (we don't know what) the plant chose to send its bloom up out of one of the roots not at the center of the plant. What we also don't know is if this constitutes the "once-in-a-lifetime" bloom of the main plant. After the blooming stem dies, it will be interesting to see if the main plant begins to die also. Maybe it got a second chance at life by sending one of its children out as a sacrfice, to bloom and then to die.

 

From the Image Gallery


American century plant
Agave americana

Slimfoot century plant
Agave gracilipes

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Bloom stalks on agave plants
September 26, 2007 - Hi, We have Agave plants in our garden for years. But in the past few weeks, we noticed a giant asparagus looking thing growing out in the middle of the plants. We don't know what it is, but every d...
view the full question and answer

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

Branches of yucca being blown down in Torrance CA
August 19, 2010 - I have a Yucca tree about 30 ft tall. Lately when the wind picks up in Torrance we have had about 3 branches fall out of the tree. Can you help me with this. I don't want to cut all of the branches...
view the full question and answer

Twist-leaf Yucca flowering in Burnet County, TX.
June 16, 2015 - I recently moved to Burnet County and our property is full of twist leaf yuccas which are now blooming, but not all are blooming. Why do some twist leaf yuccas bloom and others don't? Are they m...
view the full question and answer

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

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