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AGAVE applanata

Image of Agave applanata

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Agavaceae

Botanical Name

AGAVE applanata

Plant Common Name

Gray Agave, Gray Century Plant

General Description

Silvery blue-gray rosettes of sharp serrated leaves and a cast iron constitution make this a vivid architectural plant for arid landscapes. This succulent evergreen perennial originates at middle elevations in the mountains of Central Mexico. It was widely cultivated in pre-Columbian times by indigenous people who grew it around the home.

The showy leaves are stiff, wide and bear the interesting impressed outlines of toothed leaves as they unfold from the plant’s central cone. The long leaves are lined with prominent black spines that are sharp and painful to the touch. Where hardy, this Agave is a one time spring bloomer that flowers after ten to twenty years. The tall branched flower spikes are topped with clusters of up to three hundred bright yellow flowers. These are highly attractive to hummingbirds, a variety of insects, and even bats. After flowering, the central plant dies, though it has offsets, called pups, which will continue to grow. This species is often mistaken for Agave americana.

Fast draining soil is essential to success as is full sun, although some afternoon shade will produce a better plant in the low desert. Wild plants dwell in rocky elevated positions or in sandy, gravelly soils, so it requires minimal water. Despite its wickedly sharp tips, this is an exceptional plant for desert gardeners seeking interesting foliage specimens. It is also a graphic delight in containers; if the container has ample drainage holes and very porous, sandy potting soil. For the desert gardener, modern designer, or collector of colorful succulents, the blue agave is a garden treasure.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 11

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    4'-0' / 1.2m - 0.0m

  • Width

    5'-0' / 1.5m - 0.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • 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

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

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No