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How to Grow Agave Succulent Plants

Low maintenance, and easy to grow, Agave are great plants to add to your arid landscape. This succulent is very drought tolerant. It is more closely related to a lily than a cactus. But, you'd never know it, as like other succulents, it stores water in its leaves to use during dry periods.

Most gardeners and homeowners grow Agave plants for their attractive leaves. These green to blue-green leaves have stiff, needle-like spines on the leaf tips. The plant produces a flower stalk at the end of its life cycle. The flower stalk grows up to 15 feet tall and has yellow flowers. The flower is edible. The bloom is followed by the appearance of baby plants, called "pups" growing from their rhizome roots.

The Agave leaves are filled with sap, that can be used as a soothing salve, like its cousin the Aloe plant. The main use of the sap, is to distill Tequila. For more on Tequila, see: National Tequila Day.  

Did You Know? Agave flowers are pollinated by the Mexican Bat.

Agave plants live 8-14 years. They grow 6 - 8 feet tall and just as wide, depending upon variety. Allow plenty of space for growth when you plant them.

Smaller varieties are popular for container plants for your patio or deck, or as an indoor houseplant..

Plant Height: 6 to 8 feet

Ideal pH: 6.6 - 6.8

Medicinal Value: The sap of the Agave plant has been used as a laxative, for treatment of digestive ailments, as an antiseptic, and as a sugar substitute for diabetics. Important: Agave sap can cause liver damage. Also, do not use during pregnancy.

Other Names: Tequila Cactus, no surprise here.

How to Grow Agave Plants:

These plants grow best in hot, dry regions. Select a location in full sun. The planting site should also be elevated, as the plants can not tolerate wet feet (roots). The soil should be well drained and slightly acidic. Check the pH level prior to planting, and make adjustments as needed.

When growing in containers, use a cactus blend potting mix.

After planting, water thoroughly, but the soil should not be soggy. After the initial watering, apply additional water only in the driest of conditions. For potted plants, let the top couple of inches of soil completely dry between watering.

Outdoors, fertilize once in the spring. For potted plants, use 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer every 2-3 months.

Very Important: Agave do not need rich soil. Too much fertilizer will encourage flowering, and the end of the plant's life cycle.

At the end of the plant's life, after the flower bloom, watch for small "pups" to form at the base of the plant. Remove and plant these new Agaves.

Winter Hardiness:

Agave plants are native to hot regions. They are susceptible to frost. Temperatures under 28 ° F will kill the plant.

Insect and Disease:

The Agave Snout Weevil can be an occasional problem.

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