Century Plant

Agave americana

Century plantNative to North America, this giant agave can be found in the southwestern United States and Mexico.

Century Plant is a hardy survivor, tolerating both heat and drought for long periods of time. Growing roughly 6' by 8-10', this desert gem has gray-blue succulent leaves with long, recurved spines that grow in a basal rosette. Each of the leaves ends in a one-inch or longer tip spine, giving this plant plenty of protection against curious animal predators. Equally deterrent, the sap of this plant contains toxins that can produce a painful and long-lasting contact dermatitis for gardeners!

The enormous agave is a monocarpic plant. After 10 years or more — though not a century — at the end of the plant's life cycle, a lofty asparagus-like flower stalk is produced, reaching a height of 20-30 feet, with horizontal branching structures ending in panicles of 3-4" green to pale yellow blooms. After blooming, the plant dies, leaving offsets or 'pups' at the base, which begin a new life cycle. Century Plant is propagated by detaching and transplanting the well-rooted pups from the base, or by plantlets formed on the flower spike.