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Gardening suggestions for agaves with bloom stalks

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: June, 2013, Page 123



ASK THE EXPERTS

Q -  I have two agave plants with bloom stalks. If the stalks are cut off before the plant flowers, will the agave still live?

A - Tucson nursery owner Greg Starr, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest and author of Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers (Timber Press) replies: “I can sum up in two words: Probably not.” The agave will spend all its life—which could be anywhere from four or five years for a cultivated octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana) to 25 to 30 years for slower-growing species—storing up all of its energy to maximize its chances of reproductive success by producing one massive flower stalk with thousands of flowers. It seems that the plants will produce the stalks most often in years with favorable conditions (mild temperatures and average to above average rainfall) for seed germination and subsequent survival. Some species will not die after flowering, and these produce plants in the leaf axils of the main rosette. Some of these species include Agave mitis, A. striata and A. stricta.
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