Yes, Agave is succulent. It belongs to the Asparagaceae family of succulents, which also includes the asparagus plant and yuccas. There are over 250 species of agave plants and they are popular as sources of medicine, beverages, and even food.
Agaves are native to North, Central, and South America, and are hardy to zones 5 to 11.
They are low-maintenance and tolerate a range of extreme living conditions, which is why they are often planted in outdoor gardens.
They have large, long leaves with pointy tips, and they produce long flower stalks from which white, yellow, or green flowers bloom.
In this article, we will discuss more agave plants and their proper cultural care. So, if you want to learn more about this fascinating plant, just keep reading.
What is an agave plant?
Agaves are popular both as houseplants and in gardens. They have thick, leathery leaves that grow in a rosette formation that can range in width from six inches to 20 feet, depending on the variety.
The texture, color, and shape of the leaves will also vary depending on the species, and the edges of the leaves feature sharp spines, or teeth.
When the plant is mature, a flower stalk will grow from the middle of the rosette, and from that stalk, flowers will sprout. The flower stalk usually towers high over the plant itself, reaching heights of up to 30 feet.
The flowers are tubular in shape and can be green, yellow or white.
If you decide to keep this plant indoors, make sure to keep it away from your pets because it is toxic to both cats and dogs.
Is agave a succulent?
Yes, agave plants are succulents. They belong to the Asparagaceae family of succulents and are native to some of the driest regions in the Americas. Their thick, fleshy leaves can absorb and store water for the plant to use in the event of a drought.
These plants are some of the most resilient and drought-tolerant plants on earth, and they can survive some of the most extreme living conditions without so much as a scratch.
Agave plant care
Agaves do well in and even prefer full sunlight. As we mentioned, they are from some of the hottest, driest landscapes in the world, and naturally, they will grow the best if you can simulate their natural habitat.
Give the plant six hours of full sunlight every day to keep it happy. If the only space available gets a little shade, that will not be a problem. However, if your plant does not get enough light, it will become paler as it can no longer produce chlorophyll at the required rate.
If you keep the plant indoors, keep it next to whichever window lets in the most light.
Do not exceed six hours of full sunlight, especially during the summer when the sun is at its hottest. While these plants can tolerate extreme heat, they can still get sun damaged and the tips of their leaves will turn brown and crispy.
If you think your agave is getting too much light, move it to a spot where it gets a bit more shade during the day. If the plant is indoors, you can place a sheer curtain over the window to diffuse the intensity of the light the plant is receiving.
When the plant is fully mature, it is so drought-tolerant that it almost seems impervious to drying out.
If you get a reasonable amount of rainfall where you live, you do not actually need to water an outdoor agave; what it gets from the rain will be sufficient.
Younger plants will need to be watered more often because they are still growing.
If the plant does not get the water it needs, it will start to show signs of underwatering such as drying and wilting leaves. If you think your agave is underwatered, you need to water it immediately. Soak all of the soil in the pot so that all the roots get their fill of water.
Another common mistake is to overwater your agave, which can be harder to remedy than underwatering. Overwatering can come about from giving the plant too much water every time you water it, watering it more often than you need to, using poorly draining soil or a pot without drainage holes, or not adjusting your watering habits according to changes in the weather, season or climate.
An overwatered agave will have yellowing, droopy leaves that feel soft and mushy to the touch. This is because they have absorbed too much excess water from the soil, which eventually causes the cells in the plant tissue to burst. This can also make the leaves feel slimy.
A serious consequence of overwatering is root rot. This is a condition caused by prolonged exposure of the roots to waterlogged soil until they eventually drown and die. The dead roots start to rot and become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens like fungi and bacteria in the soil. These pathogens make the rot spread more aggressively to the rest of the plant, and by the time it has reached the leaves, it is often impossible to salvage the plant. This is why it is important to be able to spot the signs of overwatering and catch it in its early stages.
If you think your agave is overwatered, stop watering it immediately and transfer it to a sunnier spot so that the soil can dry out faster.
If you want to check for root rot, remove the entire plant from its pot and wash off as much soil from the roots as you can. Do this gently, because the roots will be fragile in their compromised state. Look for root sections that have turned brown or black; these are rotten and will have to be removed. Use a sterile knife or scissors to prune them away until only healthy, white roots remain.
Place the plant on a dry surface to let the roots air-dry, and fill a new pot two-thirds of the way with fresh potting mix. Place the plant in the middle of the pot and cover the roots with more potting mix.
Water the plant until the soil is moist but not soggy, and place it in a spot where it can get lots of light.
The best way to avoid both overwatering and underwatering is by practicing good watering habits. Know when the plant actually needs water, rather than simply following a schedule. There are many factors that can affect the rate at which the plant’s soil dries out and you need to take all of these into account. It is always a good idea to check the moisture in the pot by touching the soil with your fingers. If the top two inches of soil are dry, water the plant, but if the soil is still a little damp, wait one or two days before checking it again.
Even though the soil preference of agaves is sandy and rocky, they can tolerate many different kinds of soil as long as it is well-draining, loose, and airy.
If the soil is dense and compact, it can retain too much water and lead to overwatering and root rot.
When it comes to pH, agaves prefer their soil slightly acidic to neutral.
The pot you use should also have sufficient drainage holes so that any excess water can escape and not be retained by the soil. This reduces the chances of both overwatering and root rot.
The pot should also be the right size for the plant and not too big. A big pot means more potting mix is needed to fill it; more potting mix means more water will be retained, and more water increases the chances of the soil becoming waterlogged.
Temperature and humidity requirements
Agaves are hardy enough to grow in zones 8 to 9. There are even some outliers that can grow in hardiness zone 5, but those are few and far between.
They will always prefer climates that are warmer rather than colder, so if you live in a place that has cold winters, it is best to bring the plant indoors just before the frost starts, to a place where the temperature will be more stable.
When it comes to humidity, most agave species prefer lower humidity because they are native to dry regions. If the plant is subjected to high humidity for prolonged periods, this can lead to crown rot. Moisture and high humidity also promote the growth of unwanted fungi.
Do not keep the plant in the more humid rooms of your house, such as the bathroom or the kitchen. Also make sure that wherever the plant is placed, there is good air circulation so that any moisture on the foliage can easily dry out.
Agaves do not really need to be fertilized; they typically get their required minerals and nutrients from the soil around them.
However, if you want to help the plant reach its full potential and encourage flowering, you can fertilize it, but remember that many agave species actually die after flowering.
If you do give the plant fertilizer, do so only during the growing season, because this is when the plant will actually use up the extra nutrients and minerals you are giving it.
Do not feed the plant in the winter when it may be dormant. The unused fertilizer in the soil can cause a salt buildup, leading to soil toxicity that can harm the plant’s roots.
How to propagate agave plants
Fully-grown agave plants produce baby plants, or pups, at their base, and you can actually use these pups to propagate the plant. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get new plants, while also helping the parent plant by keeping it from becoming overcrowded around the base.
The pups can be taken from the parent plant at any time, but it is generally best to wait until they are a few inches in diameter before using them for propagation.
Remove the pups from the parent plant by loosening the soil around them and identifying the root that connects the pup to the parent plant. Use a sterile knife or scissors to cut the connecting root, and make sure you do not cut any roots that you do not need to.
Pull the pup up gently from the soil, ensuring that it has all of its roots.
Place your collected pups on a dry surface that is sufficiently shaded and has good ventilation. This will help them form a callus at the spot where they were separated from the parent plant.
Prepare small pots or containers by filling them with well-draining succulent potting mix. Plant the pups in the pots and moisten the soil with some water, but do not overwater it. Place the pots in a spot where the pups can get lots of bright, indirect sunlight.
Water the pups only when the top inch of soil has dried out. After a few weeks, the plants should have well-established roots and you can then transfer them to bigger pots and start caring for them as you would a regular agave plant.
Agaves are typically quite resistant to pests, but there are certain insects that are still able to deal some damage to these plants.
One such pest is the snout weevil, which can actually make its way into the center of the plant and lay its eggs inside, basically causing the plant to collapse from the inside out.
Because the insect knows to hide in the center of the plant where you will have a difficult time spotting it, you will not be aware of its presence until it is too late to save the plant.
The best thing you can do at this point is to remove the plant and dispose of it properly so that the pests do not spread to your other, healthy plants.
Agave – common problems
One of the most common problems observed in agaves is the leaves turning yellow. This can be due to several causes, but the most common ones are too much water and not enough sunlight.
To keep the leaves from turning yellow, refrain from overwatering the plant and make sure that you are not keeping it somewhere that does not get enough bright light.
If you notice the leaves drooping on your agave, this might be due to a snout weevil infestation.
Another cause of drooping leaves is root rot. Too much water in the soil around the roots can affect its uptake of nutrients and minerals, so the leaves become droopy.
To avoid drooping leaves, refrain from overwatering the plant and be watchful for possible snout weevil infestations.
Yes, the agave is succulent; it belongs to the same succulent family as the asparagus plant and the yucca. It has thick, fleshy leaves that can absorb and store water for use in the event of a drought.
Agaves are some of the most low-maintenance houseplants available and are also very easy to propagate.
Most agave species like full sunlight, water when the top two inches of their soil are dry to the touch, slightly acidic to neutral soil, warm temperatures, low humidity, and minimal fertilization.
Image: istockphoto.com / hanohiki