Agave (Century Plant)

AGAVE (Century Plant) Amaryllidaceae S. species

HABITAT: Mexico, West Indies.  Zone 6-10 dependent on species.

USES: Landscape specimens, houseplants, pots, tubs.

HABIT:  Slow to flower, succulent plants with sword-shaped leaves, often edged with sharp teeth and tipped with needle- like points.  10 inches to 5-foot leaves are in shades of blue, green and banded white or yellow.  Plants generally will not flower indoors and may flower outdoors after taking 10-50 years.

SEED GERMINATION: For best results, sow indoors on moistened Park's Grow Mix, covering larger seed finely, but not covering the fine seed.  Keep seed and soil surface moist but not wet at all times and maintain 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit within soil mixture during germination, which requires 15-30 days.  Transplant when large enough to handle to peat pots or sow directly to peat pots or pellets; shift to larger containers when roots emerge from pot walls.

CULTURE: Pot up into larger pots in a commercially prepared potting soil mixed with coarse sand and charcoal.  Add 1 tablespoon of ground limestone and 1 tablespoon of bone meal to each gallon of soil mix.  Agaves do best with 4 hours or more of direct sunlight per day, or with 12 hours of fluorescent lights spaced 10" from the plants and given at the rate of 20 watts of light per square foot.  Night temperatures of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit and day temperatures of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal.  Let soil become nearly dry between thorough waterings spring to fall; then in winter, water only enough to keep the leaves from shriveling.  Feed established plants in the spring with a standard houseplant fertilizer at 1/2 the minimum strength.  Re-pot overcrowded plants at any time but Agaves prefer to be somewhat pot-bound before repotting.  Agaves do best if they can be placed outdoors during the summer.

SPECIES:  A. americana marginata (American Aloe, Century Plant):  Zone 6.  Trunkless to 5'.  Green leaves, edged yellow.  Greenish yellow fragrant flowers.  Summer.
A. attenuata:  Zone 10.  trunk to 3'.  Soft gray-green leaves.
A. filifera (Thread-bearing Century Plant): 10". Bright Green leaves with white edges that dry and split to display curled, thread-like fibers.  Zone 10.
A. medio picta:  Trunkless to 5'.  Yellow center stripes on green leaves.  Zone 10.
A. miradorensis (Dwarf Century Plant):  Trunkless to 3'.  Zone 10.
A. picta (Painted Century Plant):  12". Blue-green leaves with white edges tinged with pink and edged with small black-brown teeth.  Zone 10.
A. sisaiana (Sisal Hemp):  3'.  Zone 10.  Source of hemp. Greenish flowers.  5' leaves. 4" wide.
A. victoriae-reginae (Queen Victoria Century Plant): 4-6".  Trunkless.  stiff, tightly compressed, olive-green leaves have white markings on edges.  10" across.  Zone 10.

INSECTS:   Scale, Mealy Bugs, Borer:  For best results use in an approved insecticide, such as Malathion or Diazinon, for control.

DISEASES:  Root Rot:  Improve soil drainage.  Destroy infected plants or parts and drench with Captan for control.

PROPAGATION:  Offshoots, seeds.

REMARKS:  Despite the name "Century Plant" they do not require a century to bloom, but are very slow to flower and require 10-50 years to flower.