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Agave potatorum (Butterfly Agave)


Scientific Name

Agave potatorum Zucc.

Common Names

Butterfly Agave


Agave amoena, Agave auricantha, Agave elegans, Agave latifolia, Agave pulchra, Agave quadrata, Agave saundersii, Agave schnittspahnii, Agave scolymus, Agave verschaffeltii

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave


Agave potatorum is a succulent that forms open symmetrical rosette, up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall and 3 feet (90 cm) in diameter, of broad, gray leaves. The many up to 18 inches (45 cm) long leaves are slightly reflexed back near the tips with chestnut brown spines. The 1 inch (2.5 cm) long terminal spine is slightly wavy, and the short marginal spines are on tubercle-like prominences. The flower spike can be up to 20 feet (6 m) long when fully developed and bears pale green and yellow flowers tinged with red and subtended with red bracts.

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USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Agave is not a difficult plant to grow. They're slow-growing and dramatic and will even thrive on a bit of neglect. If you're 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're 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, Agaves 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's also best to handle your Agave 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. See more at How to Grow and Care for Agave.


Native to partial desert areas of Mexico from Puebla south to Oaxaca.

Varieties and Cultivars


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