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AGAVE angustifolia

Image of Agave angustifolia

James H. Schutte

Family

Agavaceae

Botanical Name

AGAVE angustifolia

Plant Common Name

Caribbean Agave, Narrowleaf Agave, Narrowleaf Century Plant

General Description

This is one of the most architectural agaves for the landscape due to its striking rosettes of narrow leaves with fierce black spines. Narrowleaf agave is a long-lived evergreen perennial native from Sonora, Mexico southward to Costa Rica. In the wild it is found in a wide range of arid environments, so it is widely adapted to varying soils and exposures. Like other century plants, it only blooms at the end of its life span, so it is grown as a foliage plant. The species came into cultivation very early in pre-Columbian times and was used as a source of leaf fiber.

It readily grows offsets, or pups, around the base of the mother rosette as it matures. These may be severed and rooted into new plants. In its tenth year the central mother plant will produce a very tall branched flower stalk. This is covered with dense flowers, as well as hundreds of small plantlets called bulbils. The bulbils fall to the ground and root into new plants.

This tough agave can withstand the direct sun of the low desert. It is also among the few species resistant to agave snout weevil. While it can survive long periods without water, its leaves will curl up during dry periods to avoid moisture loss. If irrigated in an extremely well-drained soil during summer's heat, this is a very fast grower that develops pups at a very young age.

Strong symmetry and adaptation to container cultivation have made this one of the most popular candidates for urban and spare modern gardens. It is also exceptional in tropical settings, for visual relief on dry banks and cut slopes that challenge more thirsty plants. The stiff leaves that end in a vicious pointed spine are best avoided; do not plant too closely to walkways or patios where a leg or arm may accidentally feel its wrath. Cultivar 'Marginata' is widely grown as it has a more ornate leaf with creamy white edges.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m (4)

  • Width

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m (4)

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No