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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 - September 06, 2013

From: Huachuca City, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Do flowers on century plants grow century plants from Huachuca City AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

The flowers on century plants: can they "grow" century plants?

ANSWER:

There are 10 plants with the common name "Century" plant native to North America, of which 5 are native to Arizona. Three of those are native to Cochise County, in southeastern Arizona. All are members of the Agave genus and 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. However, we will choose one, Agave parryi (Parry's agave), native to Cochise County, as an example to use in answering your question.

Strictly speaking, you are correct. The blooms on the agave are followed by seeds, in big black pods that appear on the bloom stalk. These seeds, if they have been pollinated by the agave moth, can be planted and will produce more agave plants. But there are other ways that the agave reproduces itself. Did you know that the agave only blooms once in its lifetime, when it is anywhere from 8 to 40 years old (not a century)? Once it has bloomed the agave, having used up all its energy making seeds, dies. So, if you want more agaves, it is important that you know how to reproduce your plants. We found an article from SF Gate Home Guide on Propagation, Growing and Planting of Agave, which we feel explains it much better than we could. We hope this answers your question.

 

From the Image Gallery


Parry's agave
Agave parryi

Parry's agave
Agave parryi

Parry's agave
Agave parryi

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