How to Care for a Century Plant

Overview

The century plant, also known as Agave americana, is a popular succulent garden plant that is also grown indoors in cooler climates. It is named the "century plant" because it was once believed to flower only once per century. This is an exaggeration, however, and we now know that the plant blooms once every 10 to 25 years. The century plant uses all of its energy stores to produce a flower stalk that may reach up to 15 feet in height, and then the plant dies and is replaced by offshoots. The plant requires little care once established and is quite easy to grow.

Step 1

Select a planting location for the century plant that receives full sun and has well-drained soil. Prepare the planting site by loosening the soil with a shovel to the same depth as the plant's root ball and about three times as wide.

Step 2

Spread a one-inch layer of sand over the area and use a garden tiller to incorporate into the soil to improve drainage. Dig a planting hole about the same size as the century plant's root ball, place the plant into hole and gently back-fill with soil.

Step 3

Water the century plant thoroughly immediately after planting. Continue watering once every three to five days until the plant becomes established, usually about one month. Soak the soil to a depth of at least six inches at each watering.

Step 4

Reduce watering to once per week after the plant is established and continue during late spring, summer and fall. Allow the century plant to dry out between watering. Do not water in winter or early spring. Avoid over-watering, as this could cause root rot.

Step 5

Feed century plants annually in January with a balanced fertilizer to promote growth throughout the coming months. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the proper application rate. Water thoroughly before and after applying to prevent root injury.

Step 6

Remove all dead and damaged leaves once per year, but otherwise allow the century plant to grow naturally. Do not prune back healthy leaves, as they will not heal after being cut. Remove the entire plant from the garden after the flower stalk fades, as the plant will grow no longer.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not water century plant with water that contains fluoride, as this substance can burn the leaf tips and cause them to turn brown or yellow.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Sand
  • Garden tiller
  • Balanced fertilizer

References

  • Agavaceae: Agave Family
  • Texas Native Plants: Century Plant
  • "Nevada Gardener's Guide;" Linn Mills, Dick Post; 2005
Keywords: century plant, century plants, Agave americana

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.