Agave americana

century plant
Century plant, said to bloom after one hundred years blooms in around twenty. 25 foot flower spike! Big clustering rosettes need room in the ground. No irrigation once established. Nicely dwarfed in a pot.
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height 6–10ft
width 8–12ft
tolerates Coast, Cool Summers, Drought, Deer , Fog, Gophers, Heat, Pots, Rooftops, Neglect, Salt, Wind
Agave are extremely drought tolerant, and many, including this one, need no supplemental irrigation in coastal California. They will however look better and grow faster if they are given additional water, especially during summer.

This particular agave thrives without additional water in coastal California, even from first planting.

If planted in the shade give no supplemental irrigation.
exposure Full Sun – Full Shade
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Heavy Soil, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose, Low Needs
origin SW USA, N Mexico

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

This agave is monocarpic, meaning that a head will grow larger and larger over time, building up energy, then send off a spectacular flower and afterward decline and die. With pupping varieties, like this one, they grow from stolons at the base, constantly replacing the older bloomed out heads with new ones, which then grow larger and flower, continuing the life cycle.
Remove pups at first sight if you want a single plant, as they aggressively grow into large colonies.
Take care when pruning A. Americana has a toxic sap that causes inflammation and rashing. Removing spent agave heads can also be tricky as they are often ringed with other armed agave. If you like the look of agave, but are threatened by the terminal spikes they can be removed. It’s easiest to cut these off when they are coming out of the rosette as you’ll be able to prune the thorns off many layers of leaves at one time.
You can ‘pineapple’ your agave, by removing the lowest leaves. This is best started while it is out of the nursery can, but before planting, when you can access leaves from the bottom. This gives the plant a short trunk, textured similar to many palms, and allows you to get under the plant for weeding or removing pups.
Agave, even very large ones, are surprisingly well suited to pot culture. Agave that would normally be ten feet in the ground tend to settle into even small pots and stay in harmonious balance. Every few years, if they start to stall, you can remove them and trim back a third of the roots and remove any pups. Sometimes they get very root bound and it can be beneficial to bottom water, setting them in a saucer of water for a day.

Special Interest

Most useful for filling areas that have no irrigation and a reasonable amount of room, as A. Americana makes a large colony. They are very useful along fence lines as an armed deterrent.

When agave set pups they can easily be removed and propagated. It’s best to do this once they start to establish and have some of their own roots.