Agave americana

Century Plant

Century plant is the main common name used for this succulent plant species. Named Century because of how long it takes to flower.



This hardy plant is capable of handling a range of temperatures. Its hardy nature makes it a great plant to keep around the home.


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Description

The Agave americana also goes by the common names of American aloe or century plant. It is part of the Asparagaceae family and can be found in areas that range from South America to Mexico. It's also known as Agave cactus, but it is not a cacti plant, just has some similarities.

It is an evergreen perennial succulent that can grow to a height of 1-1.5m. This is a plant that is hardy as it is able to tolerate low temperatures but cannot survive frosts.

The plant can live for up to 10 – 30 years, not quite a century.

Foliage: The foliage of the Century plant consists of rosettes that are rigid but rather fleshy along with leaves that have spiny edges. It is gray-green in color.

There is also the Agave americana marginata (variegated ) variety that displays green leaves with yellow edges which I find more attractive.

Flowering: The flowers of the Agave americana is green-yellow in color and can grow up to 8cm in length in clusters. These flowers grow on a large stem that reaches heights much taller than the actual plant.

This species is monocarpic which means it will only flower once in its lifetime then the plant dies. The lower stem will produce pups that can be removed and propagated.

Displaying: As this is a plant that requires full sun it will need to be displayed in a spot that has full sun and is also sheltered. It is commonly found in Architectural City and Courtyard Gardens along with Coastal Patios and containers.

Due to the size of the plant, it can be placed in a container but this would have to be a considerable size. It's best suited for conservatories, large hallways and large buildings because of its size.

During warmer months the Century plant will appreciate being placed outdoors.

Care level: This is a plant that is relatively easy to care for. Due to its habitat it is capable of handling warm, dry areas and due to the fact that it only needs moderate watering during the summer and nearly no watering in the winter, maintenance is simple.

Facts

Origin: South America.
Names: Century plant, Agave cactus, Maguey, American aloe (common). Agave americana (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Height 1m - 1.5m.
Poisonous for pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

Agarve americana in a botanical garden, Singapore

Century plant picture in Singapore

Agarve americana marginata in a tropical garden

Large Agave americana in tropical garden


Century Plant Care

Temperature: The plant thrives in warm temperatures during the summer although the winter months can prove troublesome should the temperature fall below 10°C. It handles changes in day and night time temperatures very well. Temperatures averaging 70°F/21°C - 80°F/26°C are very good and not much below 50°F/10°C.
Light: While it can be kept in partial shade it does require full sunlight. This means that it will grow well on a sunny windowsill or outside soot that is south or east facing. During the winter months it is crucial that the plant receives as much light as possible.
Watering: Like other succulents, the Agava americana does need more water during its growth period. Water enough to make the potting mixture moist but allow two thirds of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. During the rest period the plant requires very little water and only enough to stop the potting mixture from drying out. In it's natural sub-tropical and semi-arid regions it spends a lot of time without water and survives well because the leaves are storage organs for water and nutrients.
Soil: The Century plant does prefer a soil that drains very well. This does mean that the loam soil should be used that contains sand so that it remains moist but drains well. The soils should be PH Acid Neutral.
Fertilizer: A liquid fertilizer will be fine to use every two weeks while the plant is actively growing. During the rest period the plant will not require fertilizing.
Re-Potting: The plant should be re-potted each spring while it's growing, moving it in a pot that is one size larger. To enhance drainage a layer of broken crocks in the base of the pot will help drainage. Once the plant has reached the maximum convenient pot size it should be top-dressed during the spring months.
Air Humidity: The plant will grow well in a room that consists of a normal humidity. Fresh air benefits this species. >
Propagation: Offsets that can be found at the base of the plant can be used to propagate. Once the offset is around 8-10cm long it can be detached and put into a standard potting mixture. Ensure that it is well rooted and only give it enough water so that the potting mixture is slightly moist. They are also propagated with seeds.

Potential Problems

It can suffer with rotting at the base of the plant as well as wilting of the leaves. This indicates that the plant has been overwatered and has poor drainage.

Brown spots that are hard and dry can be seen on the leaves indicating that it may not be receiving enough water during the growth period.

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