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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.

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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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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!

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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

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