Agave attenuata or Soft-leaved Agave is a native of Mexico. The plant that is much overlooked in pot culture. The 2 ft. leaves are soft green or gray green, somewhat translucent. As plants age they can reach up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and form dense clumps up to 5 feet across. It is an excellent plant for southern exposure in the home environment since they lack the spines that most Agaves have. They are hardy in the landscape in zones 9-12.
Blooming Flowers are greenish yellow on dense arching spikes 12-24 ft. long. It may take up to 10 years to bloom. On November 22, of this year, our Agave had flower spike starting to come up. The spike itself looked like a stalk of Asparagus. By December 4, the spike had reach approximately 6 feet (2 m) in length. On Monday, December 6, the first flowers began to open. Being from Oklahoma and have never seen this Agave bloom it was quite exciting. Even though the flowers are not particularly showy, the massiveness of the inflorescence is.
Culture: Agave attenuata need full sun to partial shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts sand or perlite to 1 part loam. The plants are watered then allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again. They are fertilized once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter months the water is restricted to once a month until new growth starts in the spring.
Propagation: Agave attenuata are propagated by removing suckers that are produced at the base of older plants. Seeds germinate readily when they are fresh.
Agave attenuata was featured as Plant of the Week February 12-18 1999, and in December 10-16 2004.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.