Plant of the Month

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Century Plant
American Agave
Agave americana

  • Plant Form: Succulent
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 6-10 ft. tall x 10-15 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, reflected sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Mexico, SW US
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Century Plants can make a striking, symmetrical accent or focal point in a large garden space. Just keep in mind how huge it gets before planting it, and always avoid planting it next to driveways, pathways, curbs, or patios. These agaves form expanding circles of pups, grand-pups, and great-grand-pups, so be diligent about digging out and discarding (or giving away) pups when they are small or your yard can be overtaken by a forest of giant agaves.

Century Plant is a large and impressive succulent that forms symmetrical rosettes of fleshy, gray-green, spiky leaves that can grow up to 6 feet long. Named from a belief that it blooms only after 100 years, it actually blooms when plants reach about 15 – 30 years old. The giant flowering stalk with clusters of yellow flowers seems to grow overnight, reaching 20 to 40 feet into the sky. After flowering, the agave dies, but not before producing offsets or “pups” around the base, which continue the cycle: grow, bloom, die, create more pups and grand-pups (which can be transplanted). Century Plants can reach giant proportions, so make sure you take its full size into account before choosing where to plant one. Don’t plant near curbs, walkways, driveways, or patios. You’ll regret planting it anywhere you have to cut its leaves back to safely pass by it. To avoid spoiling its beautiful symmetry, make sure to plant it in the right place. Use care and protection if you must prune it, as the plant sap is very irritating to skin. In the right place, Century Plant is carefree, being tolerant of drought, scorching heat, poor soil, and strong winds. It makes quite a statement in southwest and Mediterranean gardens, borders, containers, in mass, or as a focal point.

   

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