Agaves are succulent plants native to the United States and South America. They bloom only once before they die, and this can take as long as 50 years, although most types bloom within 10 years. Yellow, gold or red flowers appear on tall flower spikes beneath large rosettes of thick, fleshy leaves. Popular for planting along property lines and as borders, agave plants need only minimal care to thrive in most areas. They can be grown outdoors year-round only in the warmest climates, but make excellent container plants in other areas.
Plant agaves outdoors in late spring or early summer in zones 10-11 only. Choose a planting location that receives full sun to light shade and has average, well-drained soil. Plant agaves in containers in all other zones, as they are hardy only to 40 degrees F. Use a potting mix formulated specifically for succulents.
Water agave plants thoroughly after planting and continue to apply water once every four days for the first month of growth. Water deeply once every 10 to 14 days after the first month, allowing the soil to dry out between applications. Reduce watering to once per month during winter.
Feed agaves once per year using an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer according to the instructions on the packaging. Water thoroughly before and after application to prevent root burn or injury. Avoid over-fertilization, as this can damage the plants and even prevent flowering.
Remove dead or damaged leaves any time but do not prune living leaves, as this can encourage fungal infections. Remove the entire plant from the garden or container after blooming, once the rosettes have died.
Move container-grown agaves indoors during winter before the temperatures drop below 40 degrees F. Place them in a cool, dark place such as a basement and water sparingly, no more than once per month. Move the container back outdoors in spring after temperatures have risen above 40 degrees F.