Native to the southern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America, Agaves are evergreen succulents with handsome rosettes of usually thick, rigid, fleshy leaves with marginal teeth and often a sharp terminal spine. They exist in a wide range of sizes, colors and offer an amazing array of leaf shapes. Some make incredible landscape specimens, creating year-round interest. Smaller varieties are ideal to add drama, texture and color to containers. Easy care, waterwise and fire resistant, they are all fascinating.

  • Belonging to the Asparagaceae family, Agave is a genus of about 300 species of succulent plants.
  • Most Agaves are monocarpic: they flower once and die thereafter. However, it may take several years for this to happen and many Agaves produce offsets that will happily replace the dead plant. A blooming Agave is a sight to behold when it is topped with a magnificent flowering spike that can reach 15 ft. (5m), and bears colorful flower clusters.
  • Agave plants grow best in the Southwest and Mediterranean climates, but some are quite cold hardy and can be grown in USDA zones 7 or 8. As an added bonus, many Agaves are quite versatile and can be grown in pots or containers in areas where they are not hardy enough to overwinter.
  • Agaves are easily grown in slightly acidic, sandy or gravelly, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Many Agaves tolerate light shade, particularly in hot desert gardens. Dry soil and drought tolerant, they can go without water for weeks, even months. Overwatering may encourage fungal root rot.
  • Agaves are terrific for beds and borders, city gardens, rock gardens, succulent gardens or Mediterranean gardens. They are ideal as accent plants and highly decorative in containers. Large Agaves are spectacular landscape plants. They can be used to create a stunning focal point or a striking backdrop. Combine them with smaller, slower-growing Agave species in the foreground and add some of their favorite companion plants such as low succulent groundcovers (Senecio mandraliscae) and sedums. Complement with Aloe and Opuntia cactus to add texture and a sculptural presence to the Mediterranean gardens or to the drought-tolerant gardens. Plant Agaves that produce copious offsets on slopes where watering is uneasy. They will create a lovely groundcover that will please your eyes.
  • Plant away from foot traffic: the needle-sharp spines on the leaf tips can be a hazard to humans and pets. Don't plant Agaves near paths or walkways.
  • Agaves attract hummingbirds and birds, but are deer and rabbit resistant
  • Agaves are virtually disease free. Watch for scale insects.
  • Spring and early fall are the best times to plant Agaves. Make sure that no part of the leaf rosette is covered with soil, which can cause rotting. Until established, water once or twice a week.
  • Use caution, safety glasses, long sleeves, long pants, well covered shoes, and gloves when cutting this plant.