The Agave (pronounced a-GAH-vay) plant is a genus native to hot and arid regions of the Americas and tropical areas of South America. Agave plant types thrive in intense heat and sun. They require very little supplemental water to survive. Most varieties are evergreen with very little ability to handle frost. Generally hardy in U.S. zones 8-11. Often confused with cactus or aloes because of their sharp teeth and spikes. However, the Agave plant is actually a succulent.
Agave Plant Types
Many common varieties of agave form large rosettes of strong, fleshy leaves. A small number of agave varieties will only produce new rosettes when the main plant is nearing the end of its life. Not only are they great ornamental plants, but perfect options for privacy and protection. The succulent leaves of most Agave species have sharp, spiked edges. The spikes discourage predators from eating the plant or using it as a source of water. In ancient times people used agave spikes for sewing needles.
Stems of the agaves are stout and usually extremely short. Consequently, making the plant appear as though it is stemless. Agave plants store water in the leaves. This is crucial to agave’s continued existence. Their coated leaf surface prevents evaporation. The agave root system is made up of a network of shallow rhizomes. Therefore, allowing the agave to effectively catch moisture from rain, condensation, and dew.
Agave Quick Care Guide
2-3 times a month in summer, more if in a low desert location
Prefers warmer temperatures between 55°F – 100°F (12.77°C-37.7°C).
Liquid fertilizer diluted at half strength, once a month.
1–20 ft. tall, 1–10 ft. wide (depends on variety)
Varies — most plants only bloom once in their lifetime
Toxic to humans and animals if ingested
Agave Plant Types
In addition to growing from seeds, most agaves produce ‘pups’ at the base of the mother plant. On the other hand, the Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana) produces hundreds of pups on its bloom stalk. Some agave varieties can produce flower spikes up to 40 feet (12 meters) tall on a stem. Their bloom height makes them out of reach to animals that might attack them. Flower stems grow from the center of the rosette and produce many short, tubular flowers.
Most Agave species grow very slowly. Some varieties can live for 60 years before flowering. This is one of the reasons many agave plants are known by the common name “century plant”. The long-coveted blooms do not take an actual century to form. However, it can take more than 7 years for different agave plants to flower. These blooms form on tall spikes. Usually lantern shaped, much like yucca blooms. Agave plants are close relatives of the Yucca, Hesperoyucca, and Hesperaloe genres.
The Century Plant is the most common agave. Agave Americana’s leaves are blue-green in color. They can reach up to 5-7 feet (1.5-2 meters) tall and wide. Its spectacular leaves have toothed leaf margins. Long, black terminal spikes are at the tip of each leaf. Fast growing in full sun to part shade. Tolerates some light frost.
Plants will produce rosette “pups” with age. At maturity, it produces a flowering stalk that can reach up to 15 feet tall with yellow-green flowers. Nectar from the core of the plant makes a sweetener that substitutes for honey and sugar. Agave Mediopicta and Agave Americana Marginata are both attractive variegated versions of the original century plant.
Variegated century plant (A. americana ‘Marginata’) has striking twisted green leaves with bright yellow marginal bands. Leaves gracefully fold back on themselves giving the appearance of giant bands of striped ribbon. Like those of the solid blue-green century plant, leaves can grow up to 6 feet tall and 10 inches wide. There are over 200 species of agave that vary greatly in size and color. Century plant is one of the most impressive and show-stopping. Not only does this plant look great in the landscape, it’s a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plant.
The Caribbean Agave is the common name for Agave angustifolia (pronounced a-GAH-vay an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-uh). Native to Costa Rica, Central America, and Mexico (Sonora). Leaves of the Caribbean agave are pale green in color with a creamy margin. They grow up to 2 feet long. Dense rosettes and a flower that grows on a spike 10 feet tall.
Common names: Caribbean agave, Narrow-Leaved Century Plant, Variegated Caribbean Agave, Marginata Caribbean Agave, Mescal Agave, or Variegated Maguey Lechugilla.
Foxtail Agave is the common name of Agave attenuata (pronounced a-GAH-vay at-ten-yoo-AY-tuh). Green leaves do not have teeth or terminal spikes. One of the few agaves that do not have spines. Perfect for a small space or where you might end up brushing against your agave plants. Rosettes form on a small trunk, giving this agave a palm-like appearance. Young plants makes an excellent choice indoors or in a patio container.
Common names: Foxtail agave, lion’s tail, swan’s neck, spineless century plant, or dragon tree.
Agave attenuata 'Boutin Blue'
Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’ (pronounced a-GAH-vay at-ten-yoo-AY-tuh) is commonly known as Blue Fox Tail Agave. Blue-grey leaves are wide and pliable. They lack teeth along the margins. This large rosette succulent forms offsets or “pups” at the base of the stem.
Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’ is much more blue and typically has wider leaves than Agave attenuata. See comparison below.
Another difference between Agave attenuata and Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue is the flower stalk. Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue is erect. While Agave attenuata arches over towards the ground. Mature Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’ plants send up a 5-10 foot vertical flower stalk. Both plants have the same pale greenish yellow flowers.
Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’ is commonly known as Variegata Fox Tail Agave. A yellow variegated form of Agave attenuata. However, it is a much slower grower than the non-variegated version. This is pretty typical for most variegated plants. It also seems a bit more tender to cold and heat than the non-variegated forms. Wide pale green leaves are pliable with yellow stripes near the margins.
Agave 'Baccarat' - Crystal Bowl Agave
Agave ‘Baccarat’ is commonly referred to as the Crystal Bowl Agave. Slow to moderate growing. It forms solitary artichoke-like rosettes. They can grow to 4 feet tall and wide with short broad grey-green leaves. This plant has leaves that have long dark terminal spines and wide spaced large teeth along the leaf margins. A beautiful saw-tooth pattern is imprinted on the flat surfaces of emerging leaves.
Agave ‘Blue Flame’ is a beautiful succulent with elegant, blue-green leaves. Wavy margins and gracefully incurved leaf tips resemble a gas flame (hence the name Blue Flame). Blue cast to the leaves form from a glaucous waxy cuticle that covers the surface of the younger leaves. A hybrid between Agave shawii and Agave attenuata. This hybrid inherits Agave attenuata’s smooth, spineless, flexible foliage and graceful inflorescence. Terminal spines and finely serrated margins are from the Agave shawii. It’s not as gentle as Agave attenuata. But, also not as spiny as Agave shawii.
Agave ‘Blue Glow’ is a cross between Agave attenuata and Agave ocahui. A blue-grey succulent with finely-toothed leaves. Beautifully edged in yellow and red. It blooms at full maturity, then dies. However, it takes 10-15 years to get to that stage. Virtually disease free and deer resistant. Makes an impressive statement in any rock garden, as a border, or as a container plant. Commonly called Blue Glow Agave.
Agave bovicornuta - Cow Horn Agave
Agave bovicornuta is commonly called Cow Horn Agave. Native to the rocky slopes of western Mexico. A very attractive small to medium-sized solitary growing agave. The plant grows 3 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. Its satin-like foliage is dark green to yellowish-green and forms a rosette. Brownish-red teeth run along the margins of the leaves. Younger leaves have a distinctive, smooth looking sheen. At the end of its life (between 5-8 years), it develops a stalk from 15-22 feet tall with greenish-yellow flowers.
Agave bracteosa (pronounced a-GAH-vay brak-tee-OH-suh) is commonly referred to as Squid agave, Spider agave or Candelabrum Agave. A slow-growing, drought-tolerant plant. It typically grows 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide (but can get bigger). Unlike most agave plants, it will send out suckers to produce new plants once the original rosette starts to die.
Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost'
Agave bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost’ is commonly called Frosted Candelabrum Agave. A tough and adaptable variegated form of the Squid Agave (Agave bracteosa). Pliable arching leaves have a sandpapery texture. Bright green to pale green leaves are edged with a creamy-white margin. Unlike many agaves it is spineless. This gives it a more succulent feel and appearance. It grows to 1 foot tall and 1.5 feet wide. Perfect for borders or containers.
Agave celsii 'Multicolor'
Agave celsii ‘Multicolor’ is a medium sized rosette-forming agave. Leaves are long cream-margined green leaves that gracefully curve upwards. This plant produces a short 4-6 foot tall unbranched spike bearing red-tinged green flowers. Also called Agave celsii ‘Marginata’.
Agave colorata - Mescal Ceniza
Agave colorata (pronounced a-GAH-vay kol-oh-RAH-tuh ) is commonly known as Mescal Ceniza. Similar in size and armament to its bovine cousin Agave bovicornuta. However, the blue-grey leaves are wider, with stunning leaf imprints. Leaf imprints develop during the formation of the bud.
Agave ‘Cornelius’ commonly called Quasimoto Agave. A strongly variegated form of the Agave americana that forms attractive rosettes. Highly sought after for its attractive, colorful, wavy blue-green and yellow leaves. Typically, leaves are short and thick with small teeth along the edge with a sharp spine at the tip.
Common Name: Dwarf Variegated Century Plant, Quasimoto Agave, Agave Quasimoto, Agave ‘Monstrous Dwarf’, A. americana aureo-marginata ‘Monstrosa’, A. ‘Hummel’s Dwarf Cornelius’ or Agave americana ‘Marginata Aurea Monstrosa’.
Agave ‘Cream Spike’ may also be known as Agave applanata cv. Cream Spike or Agave parryi ‘Cream Spike’. A charming and tiny variegated Agave with rounded rosettes. Foliage is blue-green surrounded by a dramatic creamy-white margin and dark brown spines. This giant artichoke-looking agave is perfect for growing in containers.
Common name: Agave applanata Cream Spike, Cream Spike Century Plant, Agave applanata ‘Cream Spike’, Agave minima ‘Variegata’, Agave parryi ‘Cream Spike’, Agave parryi minima variegata, Cream Spike Agave, Agave patonii ‘Dwarf Variegata’, Agave patonii marginata, or ‘Alba Marginata’.
Cream Spike Agave For Sale
Agave desmetiana ‘Variegata’ (pronounced a-GAH-vay de-smet-ee-AH-na) commonly referred to as Variegated Smooth Agave. Bright golden yellow edges shine on arching, fleshy leaves. This creates an elegant urn-like form that is a sensational focal point for the landscape or a large container. Foliage has tiny, marginal thorns. Use in mass plantings for a great effect in xeric gardens. A frost-tender evergreen.
Agave desmetiana 'Variegata' For Sale
Agave desmetiana 'Joe Hoak'
Agave desmetiana ‘Joe Hoak’ (pronounced a-GAH-vay de-smet-ee-AH-na) is one of the prettiest agave plants. This evergreen succulent perennial produces striking rosettes of glaucous, curving leaves. They are delicately striated with pale gray-green and cream. A dark green margin is present on the lower half of the leaf. Perfectly adorned with a terminal reddish-brown spine. Joe Hoak comes to us from Hoak’s Nursery in south Florida. Seen from a distance it might be confused with Furcraea foetida ‘Mediopicta’. Plant in full sun to part shade and water regularly to occasionally. Commonly mispelled as desmettiana.
Common name: Joe Hoak Variegated Century Plant, ‘Joe Hoak’ Agave, Agave meridensis variegata ‘Joe Hoak’, A. meridensis, Agave meridensis variegata “Joe Hoak”
Agave filifera (pronounced a-GAH-vay fil-LIF-er-uh) is commonly called Thread-leaf agave. One of the striking agave plant types with unusual creamy-white threads adorning the leaves. The leaves themselves are bright green, edged with white.
Agave geminiflora (pronounced a-GAH-vay jem-in-ih-FLOR-uh) is a rare dwarf variety of agave. Native to Mexico’s west coast. Slow growing up to about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Green-yellow flowers grow in pairs on either side (hence the name).
Common name: Twin-flowered agave, twin flower agave, pincushion agave
Agave guiengola (pronounced a-GAH-vay GWEN-go-la) has a few very thick, silver-blue glaucous leaves. The base is broad, then tapers down to a brown terminal spine. This succulent forms open rosettes to 3-4 feet tall by 4 to 6 feet wide. Along the edge of the 18-24+ inch long leaves there are many dark-colored teeth. When mature this plant produces a 5 to 6 foot tall spike with pale yellow flowers.
Common name: Creme Brulee exotic succulent, Dolphin Agave, Creme Brulee Agave, Whale’s Tail Agave
Agave gypsophila (pronounced a-GAH-vay jip-SOF-il-uh) is commonly known as the Gypsum Century Plant. Gypsum has small soft spines along the leaf margins. Young leaves are clasped together in a vase-like formation in the center of the plant. As they age the leaves expand, turning more wavy and more gray in color. Pups or offsets will be produced at the base of the plant.
Common name: Gypsum Century Plant, Ivory Curls Agave, Blue Curls Agave, Blue Wave Agave, Agave pablocarrilloi
Agave havardiana (pronounced (pronounced a-GAH-vay hav-ar-dee-AY-nuh) is commonly referred to as Havard’s Century Plant. This evergreen perennial is extremely cold hardy. It forms a tight rosette of fleshy, broad, cupped, silver-gray leaves.
Common name: Havard Agave, Havard’s Century Plant, Big Bend Century Plant
Agave 'Mr. Ripple'
Agave nickelsiae (A. ferdinandi-regis)
Agave ovatifolia Whale’s Tongue agave
Agave parryi var. patonii marginata
Agave potatorum 'Cherry Swizzle'
Agave potatorum var. verschaffeltii
Agave potatorum 'Snowfall' - Variegated Butterfly Agave
Agave salmiana 'Ferox'
Agave salmiana 'Green Giant'
Agave scabra - Rough-Leaved Agave
Agave scabra 'Ferox
Agave shawii - Shaw's Agave
Agave schidigera 'Durango Delight'
Agave sisalana or Sisal
Agave 'Snow Glow'
Agave tequilana (pronounced a-GAH-vay te-kee-lee-AH-na) is commonly known as Blue agave. Tequila is obtained from the blue agave, which makes it quite popular. As the name suggests, the leaves are blue-green. This plant needs lots of space, so you’ll need a big backyard. Long, narrow blue-green foliage with moderately toothed margins and a long, sharp brown to black terminal spike. Tequilana loves a hot and sunny environment.
Agave titanota - "Chalk Agave"
Agave univittata 'Splendida' Center Stripe Agave
Agave univittata ‘Splendida’ (pronounced a-GAH-vay yoo-nih-vy-TAH-tuh) is commonly called Center Stripe Agave. It is a small clustering succulent with dark green leaves. A central yellow-green stripe adds a perfect pop of color. Thrives in full to partial sun. Prefers well-draining soil.
Agave utahensis Utah Century Plant
Agave utahensis (pronounced a-GAH-vay yoo-tah-EN-sis) is commonly referred to as Utah Century Plant. This small agave is from SE California and Nevada. It can grow up to 8-12 inches. Its leaves are spiny and heavily toothed. Prefers full sun and great for containers. Hardy to 0F.
Common name: Utah Agave, Nevada Agave, Kabib Agave, Agave utahensis Engelm, Agave utahensis clover, Agave utahensis var. Eborispina or Ivory-spined Agave.
Agave victoriae-reginae - Queen Victoria agave
Agave victoriae-reginae (pronounced a-GAH-vay ree-JIN-ay-ee) is commonly called Queen Victoria agave or Royal Agave. Small rounded rosettes have tight gray-green leaves. Tiny teeth are on the margins, while a brown-black spike is on the tip. In some regions these plants are endangered and protected. Creamy white flowers bloom once in their lifetime. English gardener and botanist Thomas Moore named this beauty in honor of Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria). She served as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 until her death in 1901.
Agave vilmoriniana - Octopus agave
Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass
Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'
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Agave Plant Types | Best Agave Varieties
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