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Agave in Bloom

by Lily

Agave_oct_2009_001.large
My Agave plant in bloom
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My young agave is in bloom

I planted my lovely agave plant 3 years ago from a pup.  It's a gorgeous blue/green succulent with a wonderfully interesting shape...so spear-like and strong among the other soft tropical foliage!  However, the agave is most assuredly spear-like with tough needle tips at the end of each leaf, which I cut off like long fingernails.  The agave is also a fiercely protective parent as the pups shoot up from the ground but stay tucked snuggly underneath the serrated edges and needle sharp tips of the parent's long leaves.  It's a difficult job separating the babies from the parent, to say the least!  The agave plant is not for the weak at heart and should be appreciated from afar. 

Of course, this particular plant is positioned next to my house, directly in front of an electrical outlet, which became a problem when the GFI outlet started tripping the fuse due to some moisture intrusion.  Trying to get past the extremely temperamental agave that guarded the outlet was not easy, and my intolerant husband decided to cut off some of the leaves.  I should mention the fact that my husband was bleeding in several locations due to the jagged edges of the leaves...so it's not that he was being insensitive to the agave.  And speaking of sensitivity, once we cut some of the leaves, the angry agave let off some sap/juice that created a horrible burning sensation and ended in a poison-ivy-type rash that lasted a few days.  Again, please admire this lovely speciman from afar!

So, after begging my husband not to rip my prized agave out of the ground, this plant shows its appreciation by blooming.  Literally overnight, a large asparagus-looking shoot shot up from the center of the plant.  The stalk reaches about 15 feet high (I've seen one that reached at least 20-25 feet tall!).  As the shoot started "opening", it was obvious that it was host to clusters of floral buds.  Having no prior experience with the agave, I waited and watched for 2-1/2 months.  Finally, the buds swelled and opened, presenting a fabulous display of pretty yellow blooms on the tall stalk.  It is positively a beautiful, fun, and interesting site! 

However, I'm not certain what happens now.  I'm confused because I've read that the agave is also known as the "century plant"...not that it lives a century, but it certainly seems like it since it only blooms once at the end of it's life which is 15-20 years old.  Yes...I said it blooms at the END of it's 15-20 YEAR LIFE.  My agave is only 3 years old, thus my confusion!  To add to the puzzle, it's offspring, who are only 2 years old and live at a neighboring home, also bloomed this year.  Will they all die now, or will they continue to live and bloom every year?  It's a mystery so far.  I have no answer but to wait and watch.  The agave will reveal itself in due time.

Until then, if anyone has some words of wisdom, they would be welcomed!!

Stay tuned...

Tags

agave, DigtheDirt Member Gardens

comments

It's a spectacular finish for this agave, don't you think? I planted two agaves at my last house in Austin, and then we moved 2 months later :-(. I was back recently and drive by the house to check up on my garden (I do that with the three houses I have owned, and even the rental house my wife and I gardened at in California before we were married!). The agaves are now towering around 7 feet... all that heat, sun and lots of water makes them get SO big... In Seattle, I'm just glad some varieties grow at all, though they don't get this big. I have a crazy notion of renting a truck, buying a huge agave in Texas, and trying to see of it will work here!!
Sprite
chief cultivator commented on 10/29/09
Lily, this is a stab in the dark, but are you certain this is a Century plant (Agave americana)? These usually get over 6 feet tall and wide before blooming. A. augustifolia looks similar but is about half the size. Maybe that would explain the early blooming. (?)
Sprite
Daylilyjoy commented on 10/28/09
I've been on a quest to confirm the identity as well, and I'm certain my plants are A. Americana. I've taken photos and pups to several nurseries and to a master gardener who all confirmed. The Angustifolia is more compact and upright...leaves aren't as thick and meaty either. There are so many variations...photos of the Salmiana and Shrevei var. magna look similar too, but side by side comparisons leave no question that my plants are A. Americana. The mystery continues!
Sprite
Lily replied: on 10/28/09
Sounds like you are quickly becoming an Agave expert! :-) I have never grown Agave, but these pictures are tempting me. I love big, bold plants! That bed is such a nice arrangement of contrasting textures. I've seen a lot of agaves around our area, but they are usually lonely and stark, not mixed in with other bold plants like that. Very nice effect!
Sprite
Daylilyjoy replied: on 10/29/09
I love agaves- one of my most favorite plants of all time and we had a ton back in california. i have to say, none of them bloomed for me, but that is california for you, and I think that they really do live 15 years there. That is such an amazing stalk! Yay!
Sprite
FigTree commented on 10/27/09
Beautiful plant! I love the close-up of the bloom. It looks so unusual...like a huge cluster of lily anthers. This plant does slowly give up the ghost after it blooms. It leaves many pups behind, though, kind of like a bromeliad does. I've heard of these blooming after only 3 years or 5 years. I don't know why books and websites always say 25 years is average or why the thing is named century plant. And they should come with a warning about allergic reactions because many people have allergies to this plant.
Sprite
Daylilyjoy commented on 10/27/09
Well, I can't answer your question, but I must say that is one spectacular plant.
Sprite
INGrandad commented on 10/26/09
I agree! I really love this one and am enjoying the blooms. I sincerely hope that it will live on and bloom every year...that would be a real treat!
Sprite
Lily replied: on 10/26/09

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