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AGAVE utahensis ssp. kaibabensis

Image of Agave utahensis ssp. kaibabensis

Family

Agavaceae

Botanical Name

AGAVE utahensis ssp. kaibabensis

Plant Common Name

Kaibab Agave, Utah Century Plant

General Description

This beautiful subspecies of Agave utahensis naturally grows on the rocky limestone slopes of the Kaibab Plateau of northern Arizona. It forms a pleasing rosette of narrow darker green lanceolate leaves making it well-suited for rock garden culture.

The unusually hardy Agave utahensis is a largely high desert perennial with dramatic, structurally interesting foliage. It is naturally found in scrubby rocky spots of the Mojave and Upper Sonoran deserts, from California to Utah. Its sharp spiny rosettes are formidable with grayish brown terminal spines at the tips of the dagger-like leaves. It can withstand periods of freezing as long as growing conditions remain dry.

The gray-green fleshy leaves of this century plant are straight with white barbed margins ending in sharp brownish tips. The leaves of mature rosettes reach a substantial knee-high height. Flowering only occurs when plants are mature, after many years. The ivory flowers are bell-shaped and appear in branched clusters atop very tall stems in summer. They are fragrant and attract lots of desert pollinators. The fruits are capsules that age to dark brown and split at maturity to reveal, flat, black, shiny seeds. Once a rosette flowers it dies, though many Agave leave behind suckering colonies of living rosettes, or “pups”, at the base of the parent plant. Lots of species also produce small plantlets on the flower stalk, called bulbils, which can fall to the ground, root and become new plants.

Plant in hot full sun and nutrient-poor soil with sharp drainage. It will not tolerate sustained moisture at the root zone, so be cautious not to overwater container-grown specimens. This perennial makes a great accent plant and looks nice planted among other succulents. It is lovely in containers and makes a fine houseplant for sunny windows or conservatories. Wickedly sharp Agave like this should not be planted where children play because it can be quite dangerous.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    2b, 3a, 3b, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer

  • Native To

    Western United States, Southwestern United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Caribbean, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No