Variegated Century Plant

Agave americana var. marginata

Family: Agavaceae (ah-gav-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Agave (a-GAH-vee) (Info)
Species: americana var. marginata
Additional cultivar information:(aka Agave americana Variegata)
View this plant in a garden


Cactus and Succulents

Foliage Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


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


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer


Grown for foliage



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From leaf cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

This plant is monocarpic

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fountain Hills, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Amesti, California

Arroyo Grande, California

August, California

Canoga Park, California

Casa De Oro-mount Helix, California

Chico, California

Granite Bay, California

Manhattan Beach, California

Paradise, California

Reseda, California

San Diego, California (2 reports)

San Leandro, California

Simi Valley, California

Spring Valley, California

Sun City, California

Belleview, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Homestead, Florida

Islamorada, Florida

Lake Worth, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Niceville, Florida

North Port, Florida

Palm Coast, Florida

Saint Cloud, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Weston, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Dublin, Georgia

Shiloh, Georgia

Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii

Mathiston, Mississippi

Las Vegas, Nevada

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Kerrville, Texas

Round Rock, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

White Center, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 22, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I love their formal, symmetrical structure. We grow them in pots and place them around the garden in the summer, lending an exotic touch. We overwinter them in an unheated garage, giving them just a little water once a month, just enough to slow their shriveling, though they can get by without.

When they get potbound, rather than repot them into a larger pot, I'll sometimes cut back the rootball in the spring and add soil. They can get by with a surprisingly small rootball.

They do make a lot of pups, which we remove and pot up separately in the spring. I understand that in the landscape where they're hardy, they can be aggressive spreaders.


On Jul 21, 2014, DaylilySLP from Dearborn Heights, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

The Great American Agave Bloom 2014
Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

An 80-year-old American agave (Agave americana) is beginning the slow process of blooming for the first---and last---time in the conservatory at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The agave flower stalk is now over 26 feet high and bristling with hundreds of flower buds. This agave follows its own rules but should bloom in late June-early July and continue for several weeks. After that, the parent plant will die but not before leaving behind some genetically identical "pups."


On Oct 7, 2013, DracoVolans from Crestline, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I acquired my two as pups from a MUCH larger parent about three years ago. My gosh, that thing was huge! I'm 5' 3" and it stood over me by an easy two feet and it had to be at least eight feet across at the base with those long leaves. Anyway, my pups are doing well, haven't needed re-potting, yet (though I suspect they're due) and there is a pup from one of them already. I'm chuffed to find out that they're hardy for my area, so I'm leaving my pointy little friend outside close to the house. I've never seen the temps get down to 15 F here, but there's always a first time, so protecting it against the building is a precaution.

I water it maybe once a week or less, a little more in the hottest part of summer, since it's in an earthenware pot. Oh, and beware the little '... read more


On Mar 31, 2013, St8kout from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

Bought a house in Vegas July 2012 with this plant thriving in the middle of the front yard. All the limbs were vibrant and healthy.

Several months later some limbs started drooping with the ends shriveling up and turning black. Now more are folding over and dying off on the ends. Not sure what is happening but the plant seems to be on a downward death spiral. There is a watering system already in place by the previous owners and I have not changed a thing. All the other plants (yucca, cactus, olive tree, mesquite tree, rose bush) are doing great and growing like crazy.

I read it dies after flowering but I have not seen this yet. I don't have a clue as to how old it is but it's pretty big. Now I have about a dozen 'baby' versions popping up all around it thro... read more


On Jun 16, 2012, RPhillips from Shiloh, GA wrote:

When I type "Century Plant" into the computer, I invariably get a picture of an upright spiny plant which has a stem-12 or 15 feet tall with a bar across the top with stringy little yellow flowers.

Years ago, when my family and I went to Florida, we saw huge plants with big leaves which sometimes snaked out from the center and were mostly on the ground. Sometimes they had large pale pink blooms in various stages of blooming. They were called "century plants", but were nothing like these now called that name. Does anyone know what these old style century plants are called nowadays and where I can get some? I last saw one in south Georgia at a house in the mid 90s.


On Apr 12, 2012, gkok from Bonita Springs, FL wrote:

I planted one about 3 months ago in southwest Florida. It is in full sun and It is about 3 feet tall. It was doing well until a couple of days ago when I noticed some blotches in the center of a couple of leaves. Today it looks like the area where the blotches are, the blotches are turning yellow and drying out. Has anybody else seen this. Is it due to over watering?


On Jun 23, 2011, ogon from Paradise, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

About 15 years ago, my grandfather gave me a small Agave americana "Marginata" pup he saved from a friend who was taking out their overgrown agave bed. It's been in a pot and followed me everywhere I'ved lived since. I've repotted it once, and plant on repotting it one more time soon to a large whiskey barrel so it has room to spread.

They are very spiney and I've been poked pretty badly more than once. The best method that I have found for repotting very spiney and large cacti is to sacrifice the old pot. Make sure the necessary soil is in the bottom of the new pot to make the plant sit at the same height, and then lay the plant in the old pot on it's side, and hit the ceramic pot with a sledgehammer or similar instrument until it breaks. Then, wearing thick clothing, wrap... read more


On Sep 12, 2010, jskyieeyes3 from Saint Cloud, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

love the striking beauty of the variegated agave! aquired a small one from a local nursery, that already had a pup in the pot with it. have separated the two, and both are doing well. you do have to be careful when handling the plant, or are in the general vicinity of it; the sharp spines can cut/impale you. ouch! have seen many large agave's around central florida, and when they bloom it is truly a beautiful sight!


On Apr 2, 2009, Plant_Man_28 from Saint Augustine, FL wrote:

Nice looking center piece to a garden. Grows well in St. Augustine FL. Take torrential summer rains and stands up to the dryest droughts and heat. Freezes don't bother this agave either, Nice plant


On Jan 9, 2009, Kell from Northern California, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Beware sends out runners many feet from original plant so you must constantly dig them up or have your yard totally taken over by them. Also grows fairly fast and becomes so huge it gets incredibly difficult and expensive to remove.

But gorgeous!!


On Aug 28, 2006, princesscarol from Lake Worth, FL wrote:

3. mo. ago we purchased 2 blue,3 americana marginata's,2 carribean agave's from a local nursery. they were in 7 gal. containers.we transplanted them into 15 gal. containers and all are doing well.we treat them like cactus and only water them every 3-4 weeks. we are in south florida and they seem to love our sun and heat. they are beautiful and get lots of attention from onlookers. we put them in pots so they wont grow so massive.


On Jun 5, 2006, Rainbowman18 from Weston, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I didn't know the true name (Americana) of this plant until this morning, but it is one of my favorite agaves. I have not seen the bloom spike yet, but I believe it also propagates by runners. I am definitely looking forward to multiplying this plant, if and when the time comes.

Bloom spike update: 12-26-06 I had had a 10-12 foot bloom spike on the plant now for a good few months. At first the spike throws out clumps of whispy yellow strands, first blooming at the bottom of the spike and traveling up.
Then the whisps are gone, only to later reveal tender little pups growing on the bloom spike, about an eigth of an inch large now. These are expected to mature a bit on the spike and then I will replant them in chosen spots.

All in all, having thi... read more


On Sep 22, 2005, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

What was over planted in the 50's and 60's is not so commonly planted anymore. So they now really stand out as front yard plants. And if you remove suckers and worn or laying flat leaves with a pruning saw (makes a easy, clean cut) they actually look elegant with a vase shape. Plus, that helps them to fit in the urban garden.

EDIT 2013: Funny,as you can see another 8 years and its a real question mark of remove or prune.


On Jul 11, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

We had this agave in the back of the yard, a rather useless area until we turned that area into a nursery. Now, I would rather have that space for my roses, but I am in awe of this magnificent plant, despite it's horrible thorns. I have tried to find it a home, but no one wants to tackle this baby. I would hate to see something like this become hacked up (it must be against my religion to intentionally kill a plant) so it might just stay. I was watering the plant for the first time to six years as we thought we had found a taker and I wanted to soil easy to dig. What a mistake. It's growing at twice it's normal speed. Those center spikes developed within a week. Those are now lying with all the rest and there is already an entirely new set in the center. OMG, What have I done??


On Jul 10, 2004, allatti2d from Littlerock, CA wrote:

Excellent/hardy grower (I live in the dry CA desert, where there are temperature extremes). CAUTION: DO NOT GROW AROUND small children play areas or pets!! Leaves are spiny and sharp, and tips of leaves have a sharp point that like to regrow after being clipped. I have read they will live a minimum of 30 years and grow to about 10' tall by 6' wide. They propegate VERY WELL and need almost NO WATERING. To propegate, use suckers from the base and plant in well-drained pot. Do not overwater!!!

They make nice potted plants, not a huge root system to worry about when they're young (first 3 years or so), please investigate yourself about mature plants. My neighbor has done an amazing thing with a couple of his plants -- he has removed the lower leaves of his 4' tall Agave ... read more


On May 29, 2004, lilooker from Bossier City, LA wrote:

I have had this plant for three yrs and it has traveled with us. I got this plant in San Antonio as a gift from a lady that had a lot of them in her back yard.
I live in Bossier City ,La and planted it last Nov. almost lost it to frost. I do notice that if it gets to much water it starts to loose the leaves.


On Mar 19, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

As a lover of southwestern plants, cacti and succulents, I
love this and other agaves.

They are not to everyone's taste, but they are strikingly beautiful, and require very little water. Normally, they
only need water obtained from rain, nothing supplemental.

This plant is from the same family of the agaves used to
make tequila.