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Agave americana (Century Plant)

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Scientific Name

Agave americana L.

Common Names

Century Plant, American Century Plant, American Agave, American Aloe, Mexican Soap Plant, Maguey

Synonyms

Agave americana subsp. americana, Agave rasconensis, Agave spectabilis, Agave variegata, Aloe americana

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave

Description

Agave americana is a large, solitary or slowly clumping, leaf-succulent with a basal rosette up to 13 feet (4 m) wide. The leaves are gray-green, up to 6.6 feet (2 m) long, each with a spiny margin and a heavy spike at the tip . When it flowers, the spike with a cyme of big yellow flowers may reach up to 26 feet (8 m) in height.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 8a to 11b: from 10 °F (−12.2 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Agaves are not difficult plants to grow. They are slow-growing and dramatic and will even thrive on a bit of neglect. If you are the type of person who likes to fuss with houseplants and water a lot, Agave is probably not the plant for you. If, however, you are the type of person who likes to set it and forget it, and you have a sunny window, Agave might the way to go. Be aware that some of the large varieties will eventually outgrow your room (unless you have a large greenhouse), and Agave can be aggressive. They have irritating sap and sometimes very sharp thorns that can cause injuries to small children and even pets.

In general, Agave do not need to be repotted every year. Most of the species commonly found in cultivation grow very slowly and will take a long time to outgrow their pot. It is also best to handle your plant as little as possible, since they do not like to be disturbed. When you do repot, refresh the spent soil with new potting mix and make sure the plant is firmly anchored in its pot. However, be careful not to pot the Agave too deep as that will encourage stem rot during the growing season… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Agave

Uses

Agave americana has antiseptic, wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties, which explain its uses externally as a medicinal herb to treat burns, bruises, minor cuts, injuries and skin irritation caused by insect bites. In Central America the juice from the Agave plant has, for a long time, been used as a treatment for wounds. The Aztecs and Mayans used Agave juice and egg whites to make a poultice that was then laid on wounds to speed healing…. – See more at: Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Agave americana

Origin

Agave americana is native to Mexico, naturalized in many regions and grows wild in Europe, South Africa, India and Australia.

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids

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