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How to Grow and Care for Agave

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Agaves can be exceptional houseplants, depending on which one you buy. Over 300 species have been described, but only about 200 are currently recognized. Most species are monocarpic, although a few can flower several times during their life.

As desert plants, Agaves appreciate direct, abundant sunlight and light water. They are slow-growing, so even specimens that grow into large plants can be kept inside for a period of time before they outgrow the room.

This plants are not very "people friendly". Their sap tends to be irritating and most of them feature truly intimidating spines on their leaves that make brushing against them a painful adventure.

Growing Conditions

Light: Bright sunlight year-round. Consider moving your plants outside during the summer, where they can luxuriate in full sunlight and make sure they get plenty of winter light.
Water: In spring, water with warm water just as the soil begins to dry out. Don't let the soil become completely dry. In winter and fall, when growth is suspended, water very lightly.
Temperature: Agaves prefer warm spring and summer temperatures (70 to 90 ºF (21 to 32 ºC) and cooler fall and winter temperatures (50 to 60 ºF (10 to 15 ºC).
Soil: Use standard succulent potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed in spring and summer. Do not feed during fall and winter.

Repotting

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 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. However, be careful not to pot the Agave too deep as that will encourage stem rot during the growing season. When repotting, use a fast-draining succulent mix.

Propagation

Agaves are difficult to grow from seed. Instead, use offsets as the plant ages. In general, however, propagation of Agave grown as houseplants can be difficult, since plants may not produce offsets at all and once potted up, offsets frequently take a long time to begin growing.

In most cases, it is better to simply buy a new plant or take your propagation efforts to the greenhouse or glasshouse. If you are potting up offsets, use a succulent soil mix and keep them in a place with strong light. Lightly water and give them plenty of time to form strong roots before repotting.

Grower's Tips

Agaves are not a 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 and Agaves can be aggressive.

Source: about.com

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