Agave americana

Agave americana

Agave americana or Century Plant is part of the family of the Agavaceae.

It is a succulent originally from arid regions in Mexico and Central America and is now cultivated all around the world as an ornamental.

Around the Mediterranean area, it even grows in the wild now.

Description:

The plant forms a rosette to 4 m wide from which gray-green leaves grow up to 2 m long, 30 cm wide and 4 cm thick. The leaves have a very sharp spine at the top and smaller spines along the edges.

The inflorescence appears at the top of a sturdy stem 5-14 m high on the branches of which large green-yellow flowers 8-10 cm appear. The plant is monocarpic: it blooms only once in its lifetime before it dies. But the suckers form new rosettes.

The fruits are oblong capsules of 5 cm long which burst into three sections to release the seeds when mature.

Agave americana has a lifespan of 10-30 years, after which it dies but survives through the previously formed suckers.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

American aloe, Century plant, Maguey

Synonyms:

Agave altissima, Agave complicata, Agave felina, Agave gracilispina, Agave melliflua, Agave ramosa, Agave rasconensis, Agave spectabilis, Agave subzonata, Agave vera-cruz, Agave zonata

Etymology:

Agave: from the Greek agauos (admirable)
Americana: new Latin derived from the English America

Origin:

Mexico and Central America

Habitat:

Arid plains

Hardiness:

USDA zones 8-11, -10 °C but for a short period in very dry circumstances

Agave americana inflorescence

Agave americana inflorescence



Care:

Soil:

Poor and well drained sandy soil

Exposure:

Sun

Water:

Water regularly during growing season but don’t allow water to stagnate, water sparingly in winter

Fertilizer:

Fertilize every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with special cactus fertilizer with low nitrogen content

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • sow in a light mix, preferably mixed with sand and gravel
  • sow at the surface: the seeds need light to germinate
  • moisten the soil
  • cover the pot with clear plastic and place it in full sun on a hot spot (20 °c)
  • the seedlings may be transplanted into a sandy substrate with very good drainage and placed outside in full sun when the weather permits
  • germination: 30-90 days

Notes:

 

  • sap in the leaves is very irritating
  • spines are very sharp, you should not place the plant in a place of passage

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