Agave is native to hot and arid climates in America and tropical areas of South America. Its scientific name is exactly the same. It is classified as a perennial. However, some varieties die after blooming, then replace themselves via pups or offshoots from the base of the parent plant.
Why Grow Agave
The agave is very tough and hardy. Being a perennial that is drought-tolerant and grows slowly, it’s great for a busy gardener who wants something that he or she can ‘set and forget’.
Common Problems with Agave
Root rot – They have surface roots and do not require a deep hole when planted into a pot or into the ground. If over-watered or planted too deep, root rot may result.
Fungal infection – Fungus attacks may cause lesions, black or brown spots on agave. The affected parts will need to be cut off and the remaining parts of the plant treated with fungicide.
Pests – They are susceptible to agave snout weevil, soft scale and the cactus longhorn beetle. If you spot withering leaves or brown spots, plant-eating insects may be the cause. Spray your plant with a broad spectrum insecticide if this happens.
Common Mistakes with Agave
The most common mistake with growing this plant is fussing over it too much. It is slow growing and thrives on neglect. So if you are a wanting to see fast results, this is not the plant for you.
Care Requirements & Guide
Watering: Agave do not require regular watering as they are drought-tolerant. Water a little more regularly during hot, dry spells but ensure that you allow the soil to dry out between watering.
Light: They do best in full sun but are not fond of light bouncing off concrete floors or glass windows.
Temperature: Hot and arid climates suit agave the best. They are dormant in the winter, and will cope with light frost when established. The best temperature range is 50ºF to 90ºF (or 10ºC to 32ºC).
Soil: They prefer soil that is well drained. Clayey soil needs to be mixed with sand and grit to suit agave.
Fertilizer: They benefit from granulated time-release fertilizers usually in Spring.
Propagation: Agave propagate via offshoots (which grow from the base of the plant and can be removed), via leaf cuttings (insert a leaf into moist soil and wait for roots to grow) or via seeds (about 2 to 3 weeks for germination).
Transplantation: Each plant has a large tap root and does not take well to transplanting.
Variegated agave butterfly isthmensis is perfect in containers due to its compact growth habit.