Agave Watch 2013!

Agave Watch has officially drawn to a close, with the removal of our last giant Agave americana on September 10th. Read the story and view a slideshow below. 
 
The huge blue agave, already impressive at over 8 feet tall and 13 feet wide, sent up a flower spike that can reach a height of 25 feet. This particular flower spike appeared around March 22, 2013, and glass was removed on April 3 to accommodate the swiftly growing spike.  The top 6 feet of the spike was sheared off in a wind storm on June 26th. The remaining buds gave us an explosion of yellow flowers which first appeared on July 4th and lasted for a few weeks. The blue Agave was removed July 30th.
 
In an amazing coincidence, the Variegated Agave began to send up its own flower shoot on April 28. Glass was removed on May 6th to allow this flower spike to grow up to 25 feet. Buds began to open on July 13, and the plant was removed from the greenhouse on September 10. This plant was a centerpiece in the Desert House – its leaves curled and stretched over 12 feet in every direction. Many visitors will recall that this is the giant “dancing” plant in the front of the Desert House. 
 
At the same time two species of smaller agaves also developed flower spikes and bloomed. The opening of buds can occur anywhere from 2 – 3 months after the appearance of the flower spike. 
 
In nature, agaves can take up to 30 years to bloom. Agaves have earned the nickname “Century Plants” because they bloom only once in their long lifetime. The tall stalk of spectacular flowers signals the end of the plant’s life cycle. However, the species also produces numerous small “pups”, or baby plants. These new offshoots of the original plant will be cultivated for future plantings. The agave is hardy in USDA zone 8.