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

Friday - August 09, 2013

From: Fair Oaks Ranch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Taking down a Century Plant blooming stalk from Fair Oaks Branch TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our century cactus looks like it's in the final stages of blooming and I read on your site that the original plant dies. Can we go ahead and cut down the tall blooms?

ANSWER:

We assume you mean "Century plant" as we don't know anything about a "century cactus."

There are 10 plants with the common name "Century" plant native to North America, of which 7 are native to Texas. None are native, nor even very close to Bexar County, in Central Texas. All are members of the Agave genus and, since your plant may not only be not native to your area, it may even be a hybrid or native to Mexico, which means it is not in our Native Plant Database at all.

We can, however, answer your question without determining which one it is. You are correct, the "mother" plant will die after it has finished blooming, but once the blooms are well past, it is a good idea to take out the bloom stalk, as it can be quite heavy and might fall over on something or someone after it died. The main plant will linger on for a while, but there are probably numerous "pups" that are offshoots of the plant that will grow, mature and eventually will themselves send up blooms. So, if you don't want Century Plants there any more, we suggest you get those "pups" out now, while they are still small enough to be semi-manageable. And you might want to read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on killing a Century Plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

Century plant
Agave parryi ssp. parryi

More Pruning Questions

What is a lawn broom from Cibolo TX
February 15, 2013 - Concerning gulf muhly grass you mention using a lawn broom to get rid of the dead stalks. What is a lawn broom? What does it look like? Where can I purchase one?
view the full question and answer

When and how to prune lavender (Lavandula sp.)
March 20, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I have a Goodwin Creek Lavender plant that I planted last year. It did very well but my question is about pruining. It seems that there is some growth coming up now that it...
view the full question and answer

Pruning mature cedar elm trees in San Antonio
September 14, 2008 - When is the right time to prune my several mature cedar elm trees? I'm in San Antonio, and they have never been trimmed in the 55 years we have lived in this home. I have several that are at least 7...
view the full question and answer

How can I control underground runners from from Pride of Houston Yaupons in Austin, TX?
July 16, 2010 - How can I control the underground runners from the Pride of Houston Yaupons?
view the full question and answer

Pruning for Spring
January 21, 2007 - When should I cut back (and how far should I cut back) the following plants in order to promote growth in the spring: Salvia gregii, Salvia leucantha, Ruellia (Mexican petunia), Plumbago, Sku...
view the full question and answer

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