Agave bracteosa S.Watson ex Engelm.
Candelabrum Agave, Spider Agave, Squid Agave
This species is native to the mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental in northeastern Mexico (Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo León). It grows on cliffs and rocky slopes at elevations from 2,950 to 5,580 feet (900 to 1,700 m).
Agave bracteosa is a slow-growing succulent that forms rosettes of green to yellowish-green toothless leaves that emerge upright in the center and arch gracefully back towards the outside of the rosette. The rosettes grow up to 1.5 feet (45 cm) tall and 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter, producing offsets to form a clump. Leaves have minute serrations along the margins but no teeth or spine at the end. They are lance-shaped, up to 28 inches (70 cm) long, and up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Mature rosettes send up an unbranched, ascending to erect, up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall spike that bears a dense terminal cluster of white flowers, distinctive from all other species. After flowering, the rosette slowly dies, but the offsets perpetuate the plant.
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. On the other hand, if you are the type of person who likes to set it and forget it, and you have a sunny window, Agave might be the way to go. Be aware that some 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 pets.
In general, Agaves do not need to be repotted every year. Most species commonly found in cultivation grow very slowly and 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 repot, refresh the spent soil with a new potting mix and ensure 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.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Agave.
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