Care of the Agave

Overview

The agave is a perennial succulent commonly grown for its large, ornamental flowers and attractive foliage. The agave is also known as the century plant, due to the belief that it only blooms once every 100 years. This is a myth, however, and the plant actually blooms during summer after about 20 to 30 years of growth. The large red and yellow flowers form on top of tall flower stalks above the plant's foliage. The agave requires very little care in most regions, and can often thrive during periods of drought and neglect.

Step 1

Plant agave during late spring in a location that receives five to six hours of direct sunlight each day. Spread 1 inch of compost over the planting site and use a garden tiller to incorporate it into the soil to increase fertility. Space agave at least 8 feet apart.

Step 2

Water agave once every four days during the first month of growth. Reduce the frequency of watering thereafter to once per month during spring and summer. Do not water during fall and winter, when the plant is dormant.

Step 3

Feed agave once per year during late spring using a slow-release organic fertilizer. Read the manufacturer's directions for dosage and application information. Water immediately after applying fertilizer to release the nutrients into the soil.

Step 4

Remove dead leaves from agave as often as necessary to keep the plant aesthetically appealing. Do not remove or harm living foliage, as the likelihood of disease will increase. Remove the entire plant after flowering when it begins to wither and die.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not handle agave without wearing sturdy gloves. The plant's sharply pointed leaves and spines (on some varieties) can cause serious injury. Do not grow the plant in an area accessible to curious pets and small children.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Slow-release fertilizer

References

  • "New Mexico Gardener's Guide;" Judith Phillips; 2005
  • "Arizona Gardener's Guide;" Mary Irish; 2001
  • Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture: AGAVACEAE AGAVE FAMILY
Keywords: growing agave, century plant, caring for agave

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.