Hardiness: USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F) USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F) USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F) USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F) USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F) USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Sun Exposure: Full Sun Sun to Partial Shade
Danger: Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Bloom Color: Bright Yellow
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Other details: Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping This plant is monocarpic
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets) From bulbils
Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
On May 4, 2013, junglejohn from Gold Coast Australia wrote:
I must be very fortunate. I removed 8 huge specimens with a chainsaw 3 days ago wearing shorts. Over a tonne in weight. I am a little itchy but I was absolutely covered in the sap, head to toe. At first I was really itchy but it went away after about an hour. It comes back in the shower but settles down again soon after. Reminds me a little of the giant stinging tree we get around here.
On Feb 8, 2013, Phoenicia from Exmouth Australia wrote:
I have been a landscaper for almost 15 years and have never had such a bad reaction to any plant as the agave americana.
I would strongly suggest eradication of this noxiuos weed.
I was removing a large mature plant from a garden yesterday using a chainsaw to chop it into more managable pieces for removal. The sawdust was more like grated onion which splattered over both legs and 1 arm. Almost instantly i began to have a severe discomfort like acid burns or an infuriating itch . I had to stop sawing and started to wash my legs with water and a towel. After about 30mins the sensation completely stopped, leaving no pain or itch.
Later that night the affected area began to welt. Today the welts started to form little whiteheads. I went to the doctor and he told me some cacti can carry the strep bacteria and so he has started me on heavy antibiotics and steroids. In the morning I will have a blood test. If you are suffering from any such symptoms go see a doctor now.
This plant is the most aggressive mungrel I have ever come across.
On May 22, 2012, Miker76 from Wedgefield, FL wrote:
No idea what this thing was before hand, only that it was big, spiky, and the guy who owned the house before me had it dead center on top of the entrance to the house septic tank. For me to get an inspection, it had to go. I ended up as many here I see have done, got at it with an axe and hacked the massive thorny blades away, hacked at the roots, and pulled my jeep up and attached chains and pulled the thing out of the ground. My arms, 11 days later are completely covered in blisters and rash. I sleep with benedril every night and keep itch lotion of various types with me at all times. I am highly allergic to poison ivy although thankfully this doesnt have the same spreading ability that it has, but itches far worse. Sometimes I just go dunk my arms in cold water it gets so bad. Hopefully aside from the relapses this rash will go away soon since I am nearing the 12 day mark. I hate this plant and plan on eradicating it off my property except for some I will relocate across the second entrance to block it. C4 is the way to go on big plants I think. Dont mess with it otherwise without a full hazmat suit. On the bright side the inspection went well.
On Jan 20, 2012, ItchyGreenThumb from Menifee, CA wrote:
I recently bought a home near Temecula California and the 10k sq ft yard has a beautiful but overgrown landscape. The first thing I noticed were some VW size blue agave and yellow striped American agave growing on my hillside. After removing the 4 truck loads of overgrown rosemary I decided to tackle the agave. I began trimming the agave back with a very sharp hand pruning saw so this process was very easy with no mess.
BUT, when it was time to reduce the size of the plant leaves to fit in the trash I decided to hack them down into small pieces with a dull mechetti.
Bad move!!! Little did I know the sap was splattering all over both my arms as I was hacking away. Within 10 minutes I felt like I had a bad case of poison oak on both arms. I washed them with soap and hot water then covered them with calamine lotion. The itching went away within 5 minutes and so far so good.
PS: I found this site researching agave and itching. Lol!
On Aug 21, 2011, BryanJS from Apple Valley, CA wrote:
Do NOT chain saw this plant if you want to get rid of it. I got the juice "sap" which was extremely runny (like water) on my skin and then the burning spread all over my body. I was burning and itching for quite a while. I thought it would go away after a while.... it didn't. I took a shower and used soap all over my body. I used the soap, then rinsed it off, used the soap and rinsed again (6 times) It took about 15 minutes and I have no blisters or rashes from the plant. It might of helped because I was wearing sunscreen but I'm not sure. No matter how big the plant is, dig it out. do NOT cut any part of it because you will be in pain.
On Jun 27, 2011, ueberwinden from Florence, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:
I live in a zone 6 and my agave adorn my backyard in a 20 gallon pot. I have never had any issues when I have trimmed it up. This plant has very sharp points for a reason, probably not smart around young children without close supervision. Some plants are very beautiful but demand respect, and this is one of them.
We work with this plant to make Mezcal in oaxaca mexico, a mexican spirit drink, It is very rich in sugars that once you ferment it and then you distill it, you will obtain alcohol. The bad part is that if u are not used to the plant and its juices, it will cause a sever rash, but once you are used to it, you will be fine. some people will have very sensitive skin but they get used to it.
On Jan 30, 2011, regiberry from watsonville, CA (Zone 7a) wrote:
At my Mother's home recently, I trimmed this plant back with a pruning saw and immediately had a burning and severe itching on my arms that blistered. I washed my arms and took my clothes off and used caladryl lotion and hydrocortisone cream. I had this rash for almost 10 days. It was very surprising, to find out that the sap is toxic. I wish that I new this before I trimmed it. Could have been much worse!
On Jan 8, 2011, tl1000sv from Paraparaumu New Zealand wrote:
We are in Paraparaumu, New Zealand and have had one of these in our yard for 10 years. Over the last three weeks the plant has begun to flower...WOW... wasn't expecting that! The central stem has grown nearly 7 metres in three weeks. The neighbours are all wondering what is going on. I have always liked the look of the plant but wasn't aware of the dangerous sap. I understand they can die after flowering and have sought advise from the local gardening shop. They tell me to cut the central stem when it looks as though the flowers are beginning to wilt.
I researched this plant before getting one and am aware of its undesirable traits. However, I like its distinct appearance. It is taking a prominent position in a cactus garden in my backyard. The garden is experimental with many cacti, agave, and yuccas not native to Oklahoma growing in it. I've seen many fine examples of it growing across the southern U.S. in areas that get as cold as here. Its dangers are a challenge, but are manageable. One thing with this and any other plant, be sure you know how big it will get when you plant it. It is important to allow space for the mature plant, not the one in the pot. An update: Although it is supposed to survive here, we had an unusual cold spell, -2 degrees Fahrenheit, which did it in. It is possible that it could have adapted with two or three normal winters reading other comments; but it did not have this luxury. It is still alive, but so badly damaged that I don't think it will survive.
I agree with the above neg coments regarding the skin rash.
You need to get a RX for the treatment so the rash
does not get infected.
Apply this cream two to three times a day on affected areas
generic equivelant for....SILVADENE 1 %
THIS CREAM TO BE KEPT IN THE REFRIDERATOR
HAS AN ANTIBOTIC IN IT FOR INFECTION.
ALSO WILL HELP TO REDUCE IN THE ITCHING
On Jul 20, 2010, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
They call it century plant b/c supposedly, it blooms once every 100 years. Mother plant dies and the pups are left to carry on. However, who has been around 100 years to verify bloom frequency???
I don't grow it in my garden. You need a very large space. I have seen some in flower and they are magnificent. However, the flower stalk is so thick, you need a saw to remove it after show is over. Also, I remember one particular case in which the mother plant was so big, it was a terrible looking mess after it died (following bloom).
This plant is best left in the desert, or at least should not be grown where the gardener is not willing for it to be the DOMINANT plant on the landscape. The sap contains TOXINS that produce a contact dermatitis that is WAY beyond anything you have ever experienced with nettles or poison ivy--almost immediately very painful and often long-lasting. The previous owner of my rural residence planted one of these agaves right next to the house--3 feet. The plant is now ten feet tall and at least that wide. I am removing it, but it is difficult because of the sap. Barbed leaf edges, iron-hard spines on the tip, constant regenerative suckers popping up all over, plus the internal toxins make this an unfriendly plant. The dermatitis can be treated by cold saline compresses and antihistimines, but severe cases may result in systemic symptoms that should be treated by qualified medical personnel. If you must cut the agave for any reason (i.e. trimming, removing, etc), be sure to cover all your exposed skin before starting. Eye protection in the form of safety goggles is MANDATORY. Also, be aware that sap on clothes, gloves, or tools is just as harmful as sap that comes directly from the plant. If you get sap on your skin, IMMEDIATELY wash with cold water and soap. Use a facecloth to help remove the sap from your skin, but DO NOT scrub back and forth, this may spread the sap onto unexposed portions of the skin. Stroke in one direction, regularly folding the cloth to use a "fresh" portion. After all cutting of the plant is done, remove your clothes (do NOT pull them off inside-out) and wash immediately in strong detergent. Gloves should be discarded as they will likely have sap on them, depending on how extensive the cutting has to be. Be sure not to rub an itchy nose or otherwise touch your face while using the cutting tool or wearing the gloves. Stand UPWIND of the hose if you use it clean your tools, and be careful of backspray. One last note: If you must cut your agave, do it on a relatively calm day. Wind can carry sap droplets right to you.
On Jul 12, 2010, jaylang from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
My experience relates to buying a 30-year-old garden in Florida where agaves were planted when small, then became the problem for the next owner--me. I transplanted one away from a pathway successfully by tying it up in burlap to be like an artichoke, only to have the 2010 freeze burn it real ugly. Two others I had been clipping off their needles with scissors, and then they began their death dramas. What I eventually did to get their carcasses gone was a lot of GLOVED, long-handled lopper work on the ground-level leaves to clear some bare stalk. I used a reciprocating saw (sawzall) at ground level to cut the stalk, several cuts. I did the same thing with the big stalk that had grown up and spawned little agaves all over, in two cycles. I used pick and shovel to get rid of the root ball, nothing unusual. There were big and small pups, and they are still showing up, hiding under weeds. I would keep them in pots, or in places where you don't plan to walk or place plants of value. If you have to keep them with kids around, trim the dangerous ends to suit your taste, or even remove leaves from the bottom up to a safe level, in my opinion.
On Jun 17, 2010, AmberJackson from Redding, CA wrote:
My mother planted these a few years back and now they are huge. We have young children and they can't play in the backyard because we cant figure out how to remove these monsters. I feel helpless and frustrated. Does anyone have some ideas?
On Jun 15, 2010, TXWolf from San Marcos, TX wrote:
I love this Plant as it was abandoned by myy former neighbor and it is now about 5 and a half feet tall at the center Spike...
It is beautiful and if i can just keep the kiddos away from it with thier bats all will be good, my question is how do i clone this... i havent seen any pups so to speak around it... i want to place these on each of the 4 corners of my yard but am lost when it comes to cloning these or planting them. any help will be appreciated you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions thanks
I planted a small, 6" in diameter blue agave about 4 years ago here in SE Florida and I couldn't believe how quickly it grew. It spiked 2 months ago to a height of 10 feet. I cut the spike and figured the plant would die. It did not. Three days ago I used a reciprocating saw to first cut the leaves off, and then dug up and disposed of the main plant and its pups. I wore gloves and long pants and thought I was careful not to get any sap on my skin. Unfortunately I developed a severe rash on the inside of my wrist. I've never had a rash like this. I am not allergic to poison ivy and have handled that often. This rash is unbelievable. It only itched slightly at first, but now 3 days later it is still dark red to purple with some white pustules forming. I thought I might have psoriasis, but no, it was a little bit of agave juice that caused this. I won't be messing with this plant again. Thanks to the forum I've saved a trip to a dermatologist!
On Sep 11, 2008, baiissatva from Dunedin New Zealand wrote:
Zone 9b, Coastal Otago, New Zealand. After reading these other notes Im very surprised! I know of no one in this country who has experienced the irritating effect of this plant's sap, and have handled it myself without incident, despite having highly reactive skin. I am certain the plants we have are A Americana- perhaps, like many agave species down here, we have a clone that is both ubiquitous and relatively inoffensive.
I add to this that my A A looks exactly like the 'kell' pic in the wheelbarrow, and yesterday I trimmed it up with a kitchen knife, getting sap on my bare hands and arms, which did, well, nothing! Is it just that Im not allergic or are NZ AA's a less toxic hyrbrid? Who knows??
Grows well in all but the coldest areas, survives being frozen solid, impervious to wind and salt spray, always looks good in the background of a succulent/exotic collection. So I dont have too many bad things to say about it. Grows to massive proportions given decent water- I have seen them 2m high here.
Also I have never seen the remote suckering habit- it always pups close to the parent plant, rather than coming up bamboo-style some distance away. I would class it as medium-prolific and easy enough to contain, even in a range of soils. Perhaps with our regular water its rhizomes dont need to wander far.
Spikes are mighty and dangerous- watch your eyes while weeding as they tend to disappear visually front-on. Snip off the lower leaf spikes to prevent spearing your cats/dogs/kids.
On Jun 29, 2008, ogrejelly from Gilbert, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:
Fast grower in the Phoenix area with very little care. I hose water them every three weeks and they are very healthy. I find that once large they are vulnerable to agave Beetles. By the time they start to show unhealthy signs, they are dead and infested with grubs. The good thing is that the pups sprout everywhere and are very easy to transplant so you always have a healthy backfill. By far the fastest growing agave I have seen.
On Jun 28, 2008, queenothmadhous from Cantonment, FL wrote:
This is the first time that I've had one of my own, but my grandmother had one when I was growing up. Sorry to all of you who didn't know about the sap. It was always an understood rule that we couldn't mess with that plant. (My grandmother had quite the green thumb and grew anything and everything, even things she was told could not grow in the south) We could walk up to it and look or even feel the leaves, just do NOT break anything.
On Jun 6, 2007, msironi from Los Angeles, CA wrote:
This beautiful Agave was given to me by a friend who couldn't use it in her garden. It is a care free rapid grower, needs little water, tolerates cold (in the recent very cold weather this winter in Southern Calif. many tropical plants took a beating, but this Agave is as sturdy as ever). Pup production is plentiful and I end up giving lots of plants away as I don't want it to overtake the garden with new plants. I haven't seen too many of these so am not sure if it is rare or not.
On Aug 23, 2006, eurokatt from Naples - Lago Patria Italy (Zone 9b) wrote:
I am not a fan of this plant in my yard; its big, invasive, and thorny. I enjoy it's presence in other's yards and the blooms are incredible. Having said that...I do have one in my current yard (rental). It is in an area that I only need to access to turn the sprinkler on/off so I don't have much contact with it. Today I needed to trim off some of those darned leaves and I used a hand saw. EEK! Severe itchiness hardly describes the sensation. I wanted out of my skin! (torso, thigh and sawing arm were affected) After applying alcohol and cortisone cream I ended up in the shower with soap and cold water. My husband poured vinegar on my 'itchy' parts with no help. I sent him out to my garden to retrieve a big Aloe Vera leaf. Splitting open the leaf (remove the thorns! - missed a couple the first time) and rubbing it over the dry, itchy areas relieved the itching after about 5 minutes of constant application. It's now been just over 5 hours later and there doesn't seem to be redness or bumps...yet. The skin seems a little 'wind burnt' but no itching or other discomfort. For the record...after my aloe treatment I put on proper clothes and went out to continue my trimming. Ended up trimming a little extra so I won't have to do this chore anytime in the near future. I love my Aloe!
On Feb 9, 2005, palmbob from Tarzana, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:
I have to say I have mixed opinions about this plant. On the positive side, it can be an impressive, imposing, turquoise landscape plant(s). I have a friend who uses this species to wall off his yard from would-be plant thieves and it's a pretty impressive wall of spines. You would have to be crazy to try to cross it. And it's incredibly easy and fast growing
... but for me, who does not live on a 100 acres of property, this is NOT a good landscape plant, but a weed. It is nearly impossible to get rid of once you stick it in the ground. It comes up everywhere, and sometimes 10-15' away from the mother plant. Rip it out, and roots still make more plants forever. And the new suckers love to come up right next to other valuable less durable plants that don't like having their roots messed with, making it even trickier to get rid of. Impervious to round up. Pruning it is painful and dangerous. Can't recommend this one unless you have the space, or a large pot to keep it in forever.
I agree with the previous poster's warning about the sap. This is a very impressive prehistoric looking plant, and grows well in the southwest US. However, be careful not to get the sap on your skin.
Last weekend I was helping a friend remove an enormous cluster of these from his backyard. The fibers are very strong and at their base the large plants are quite tough. We needed to use a pickaxe to break it up and get it out. We were unaware of the toxicity of the sap and got quite a bit on our skin. It started itching badly within minutes, and by the next day it was a bad rash that started blistering. One week later the rash is still pretty bad.
The good news is that I can't imagine coming into contact with the sap without doing serious, intentional damage to the plant. It's not like you're going to have a problem simply by planting these. Just use caution when removing them.
On May 18, 2004, smile70s from Saint Augustine, FL wrote:
Don't get me wrong, we love the plant - it is beautiful - but be very, very careful not to get any of the juices on the inside of it onto your skin. My husband, a landscape designer, is in absolute misery right now. He was removing a century plant (agave americana) from a customer's landscape and had to cut it. When he did, he got juice all down his legs and they immediately began to burn. He tried running water over it, and it just made it worse. He came home and showered and washed it off w/soap and water, and it didn't help. It has been over 24 hours, and he has a rash so bad on his legs that he can't even bend his knees. He's also been very sluggish and a little nauseated all day. He went to the doctor and she gave him a steroid to take down the swelling. I looked it up on a toxicity website, and apparently, it is going to develop white blisters all over (which it's already begun to do) and will remain painful and itchy for a good five days. The rash is supposed to subside to light red splotches in about 12 days and take up to 4 weeks to completely disappear. This is apparently an extremely toxic plant when in contact with human skin. So be VERY CAREFUL not to get it on you.
My husband brought his plant home in a pot. After moving it around in the back yard for quite a while to mow the grass and such, it took root and grew to an enourmous size - about 6 feet in diameter (mind you the pot is still there). One day we noticed this stalk growing up out of it. It passed the powerlines and eventually got so heavy it bent over. It flowered and later produced over 200 small plants which we will be potting and giving as holiday gifts - with a warning that they will grow very large. What an interesting plant!
On Nov 22, 2003, MNEVEN from New Port Richey, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:
So far I love my agave. We planted it 18 months ago. A neighbor has a huge one and this is a pup. Today I noticed that the flat part of the stalks have yellow bumps on it. Is this a fungus and if so, what do I do and if not, what is it?
On May 30, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:
It´s so hard to find accurate informations about Agave on the net! I have some national and foreign books of ornamental plants, and I can´t identify the plant, which pictures I just posted. The closest I got is Agave americana, but I´m not sure.
What I know is that I have a small plant of A. americana, with variegate leaves, that started as a bud from the inflorescence of an older plant. What a tough little plant! I wasn´t expecting it to survive, but now I have to replant it in a bigger vase.
This is a favorite plant of mine. I’ve had this plant since 1995. I should say that I also have the Variegated American Century Plant, which I think is what most people think of when they think A. americana. It’s pretty hardy, although it does require plenty of direct sunlight. It's definitely a plant that is immune to aphid attack, even though, contrary to popular belief, not all succulents are. I have empty pots to prove that. It has produced two very healthy sprouts, which I removed (can you say: hacksaw) and repotted, and is working on two new sprouts right now. My observation is that it’ll only sprout when the light is really good. You also have to warn people that the plant has a real bite, especially the end thorns. They’re so big and sharp you could almost use them for arrowheads.
These plants grow to deceptively old ages (Hint: They call it the Century Plant for a reason) and very large sizes. It's deceptive when they're young anyway. You wouldn't think that this little thing could live for more than 100 years and get to the size of a Volkswagen. The sprout you get could have a history that in two or three generations, goes back to the American Revolution. Pretty neat. I saw one in a greenhouse laboratory that was almost 10 feet across and was quite old. It’s not unlikely that this plant may outlive the owner. So, in a nutshell, it’s an easy, attractive and productive plant that will last a long, long (did I mention long?) time.
On Mar 13, 2003, Dinu from Mysore India (Zone 10a) wrote:
The flower spike can grow up to 15 feet but the plant has to be many years old by then. The leaves too get wider and the plant would need 6-8 feet across. When these are small, it is an attractive plant that requires little or no attention.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, Grenoble, Atmore, Alabama Eight Mile, Alabama Flomaton, Alabama Vincent, Alabama Chandler Heights, Arizona Congress, Arizona Golden Valley, Arizona Goodyear, Arizona Green Valley, Arizona Phoenix, Arizona Picture Rocks, Arizona Surprise, Arizona Tucson, Arizona , California Agoura Hills, California Apple Valley, California Calabasas, California Glendale, California Hesperia, California La Presa, California Lompoc, California Menifee, California Rancho Calaveras, California Redding, California San Clemente, California San Francisco, California San Leandro, California Thousand Oaks, California Big Pine Key, Florida Black Diamond, Florida Boca Raton, Florida Cantonment, Florida Cutler, Florida Fernandina Beach, Florida Kendall, Florida Keystone Heights, Florida Lutz, Florida Rockledge, Florida South Venice, Florida St Petersburg, Florida Summerfield, Florida Tallahassee, Florida Wedgefield, Florida Yulee, Florida Augusta, Georgia Gray, Louisiana Gulfport, Mississippi Blue Diamond, Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada Alamogordo, New Mexico Elephant Butte, New Mexico Las Cruces, New Mexico Rio Rancho, New Mexico Roswell, New Mexico Elizabeth City, North Carolina Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina Kure Beach, North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina Beaufort, South Carolina Bluffton, South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina Conway, South Carolina East Sumter, South Carolina Florence, South Carolina Hilton Head Island, South Carolina Lexington, South Carolina Little Mountain, South Carolina Mt Pleasant, South Carolina Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Saint Helena Island, South Carolina Alpine, Texas Austin, Texas (2 reports) Briarcliff, Texas Brownsville, Texas Bulverde, Texas Deer Park, Texas Houston, Texas (2 reports) Kermit, Texas Lufkin, Texas Odessa, Texas Redwood, Texas San Antonio, Texas Volente, Texas White Settlement, Texas White Center, Washington