How to Grow Agave Plants

Overview

Agave plants, also known as century plants, provide interesting designs in the home landscape and many gardeners use the tough-looking plants as borders or screens. Agave plants vary widely in size, shape, color and cold hardiness, although most varieties thrive in zones 9 through 11 in the United States. The succulent plants adapt well to desert-like conditions and even tolerate drought, although they cannot survive frost or cold temperatures. In areas where temperatures drop below freezing in winter, agave plants grow best in containers for easy transport indoors during winter.

Step 1

Plant agave in a location that receives six to eight hours of full sunlight throughout the day. Dig a hole in the soil of equal depth and twice as wide as the root ball, place the roots into the hole and gently back fill with soil. Space agave plants 2 to 3 feet apart.

Step 2

Apply a 1-inch layer of gravel mulch over the soil surrounding agave plants to conserve moisture while keeping the crown dry. Begin the layer about 2 or 3 inches from the crown of the plants to allow room for growth and adequate air circulation to prevent disease.

Step 3

Water agave plants once per month, soaking the soil to a depth of 24 inches at each application. Increase watering to once per week any time the temperature rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, applying two to four gallons each time.

Step 4

Feed agave plants twice per year, once in spring and again in fall, using a balanced 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer. Apply according to the manufacturer's directions and water thoroughly after feeding to prevent burning the plant's roots.

Step 5

Remove faded, dead or damaged agave leaves as often as necessary to keep the plant healthy and visually appealing. Remove whole leaves to avoid tearing, which will increase the possibility of disease. Cut off the leaves as close to the base of the plant as possible.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear gloves when handling agave, as the leaves have sharp spines.

Things You'll Need

  • Agave plant
  • Gravel mulch
  • Fertilizer

References

  • Desert Botanical Garden: Agave Care
  • Texas A&M University: Agavaceae or Agave Family
  • "New Mexico Gardener's Guide"; Judith Phillips; 2005
Keywords: agave plants, century plants, grow agave plants

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.