Plants from the Agave family hold some of the most impressive succulents on the planet, and luckily for us, most agaves are relatively easy to grow.
Indigenous to Mexico, agaves are also native to the southern and western United States and central and tropical South America. They are succulents with a large rosette of thick, fleshy leaves, each ending generally in a sharp point and with a spiny margin; the stout stem is usually short, the leaves apparently springing from the root.
One of the most familiar species is Agave americana, a native of tropical America. Common names include century plant, maguey (in Mexico), or American aloe (it is not, however, closely related to the genus Aloe). The name "century plant" refers to the long time the plant takes to flower. The number of years before flowering occurs depends on the vigor of the individual plant, the richness of the soil, and the climate; during these years the plant is storing in its fleshy leaves the nourishment required for the effort of flowering.
They mature very slowly and die after flowering, but are easily propagated by the offsets from the base of the stem. Blue A. americana occurs in abundance in the Karoo, and arid highland regions of South Africa. Introduced by the British settlers in 1820, the plant was originally cultivated and used as emergency feed for livestock. Today it is used mainly for the production of syrup and sugar.
How to propagate Agave
Because agaves are relatively slow growing they can be expensive to purchase, so propagating your own agaves is a fantastic way of building up your stocks as well as getting the varieties that you want.
Another, but rather more drastic way of getting agaves to reproduce, is to remove the center of the adult plants. Just as with cacti, this stimulates the plant to produce multiple heads, each of which can then be rooted.
Unfortunately, all of these methods of reproduction have disadvantages. For example, not all plants produce clones - some of the most beautiful such as A. Victoria-reginae and A. ocahui rarely ever do, and even for those that will, the offsets may be poorly shaped or attached too tightly to allow separation from the parent without injury. Furthermore, the offset may contain diseases passed on from the parent. Reproduction by means of bulbils gives you many plants in a hurry, but this tends to be a rare event and characteristic of just certain species.
The compost mix for agave seedlings is very simple, mix equal parts of sifted steralised top soil and crushed granite/horticultural grit. Using a seed tray or individual pots, fill with the compost mix then sow the seeds giving each seed a couple of incehs spacing. Lightly cover the seeds with some more of the compost then, give them another light covering grit.
Water the tray or pots by setting them in a pan of water until the wet surface indicates that the soil has become thoroughly saturated. After the tray/pot is removed, allow it to drain for several minutes, then cover the pot with transparent cover such as a sheet of glass, propagator lid or even plastic wrap!
Place the tray/pot on a warm windowsill, but out of direct sunlight.
Seedlings will vary considerably in size during their first weeks of life which usually reflects the size of the seeds that produced them. Agave seedlings have a tendency to fall over. If this occurs, add some course sand to the tray/pot to help shore them up.
After two to four weeks of development, a slit develops near the base of the first leaf and out of it come the second leaf, this one looking much more like an agave than the first, but still elongated and devoid of marginal spines. The third leaf,when it appears, tends to be wider than the second is, and it does contain small marginal spines. By the time the third leaf has made its appearance, the initial leaf has begun to
turn yellow and dries out from the tip. It has done its job and it proceeds to disappear. Try to keep the soil moist, but even at this early stage, seedlings can dry out completely for several days
with no apparent damage.
The seedlings will let you know if they are receiving too much light or too little. In the first case, they take on a purplish tinge. In the second, they turn pale. Try not to change their light regimen abruptly, it is far better to do it in gentle stages.
By the time the third leaf arrives, the plants begin to bear some resemblance to their
For related articles click onto:
Buy Agapanthus Seed
Buy Agave Seed
Buy Allium giganteum Seed
Buy Aloe vera Seed
Buy Giant Ornamental Onion Seed
Bird of Paradise Flower
Buy Venus Fly Trap Seeds
Choosing Hardy Cacti and Succulents for Growing Outside
Christmas Cactus Care
Dracunculus vulgaris - The Dragon Lily
Growing Geraniums from Seed
How to Grow Agapanthus
How to Grow Dahlias from Seed?
How to Grow Lobelia from Seed?
Hardy Exotic Plants for that Tropical Garden Effect
How to Grow Palm Trees from Seed
How to Grow Aloe vera from Seed
How to Grow Banana Trees from Seed
How to Grow Geraniums from Seeds
How to Grow the Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba) from Seed
How to Grow Pansies from Seed
How to Grow Petunias from Seed
How to Grow Roses from Seed
How to Grow the Sago Palm from Seed
How to Grow the Venus Fly Trap from Seed
How to Plant Bamboo
How to Propagate Bamboo?
How to Take Cuttings from Bamboo
Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria'
Schlumbergera Species - The Christmas Cacti
The Blue Agave
The Dragon Blood Tree
The Dragon Lily
The Giant Horsetail - Equisetum giganteum
The Monkey Puzzle Tree - Araucaria araucana
What has the Christmas cactus got to do with Christmas?
Hardy Cacti and Succulents for Growing Outside
What is Agave?
What is Aloe vera?
What is Bamboo?
What is a Baobab tree?
Article based on http://www.centralarizonacactus.org/plantinfo/seeds/GROWING%20AGAVES%20FROM%20SEEDS.pdf and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agave
Photo care of http://www.cepolina.com/agave_American_plants.html and http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/01/agave-fuels-excitement-as-biofuel-feedstock/