Agave isthmensis A.García-Mend. & F.Palma
Dwarf Butterfly Agave
Agave isthmensis is a small succulent that forms compact rosettes of powdery blue-green leaves with prominent dark reddish-brown teeth along the margins and a sharp terminal spine. The rosettes grow up to 12.8 inches (32 cm) tall and up to 14.4 inches (36 cm) in diameter, producing offsets near the base. Leaves are obovate to spoon-shaped, narrow towards the base, and broadest near the tip. They are up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and 3.2 inches (8 cm) wide.
The mature rosette produces a flower stalk reaching up to 7 feet (2.1 m) in height with short side branches bearing clusters of yellow flowers. Fruits are egg-shaped capsules with black seeds. They are up to 0.9 inches (2.2 cm) long and 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) in diameter.
Agave isthmensis is native to Mexico. It is restricted around Salina Cruz on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca. There is another population about 25 miles (40 km) inland at a similar elevation, near sea level.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °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 even 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 you 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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