Agave desmetiana

Common Name: spineless jade agave 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Eastern Mexico
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Rarely flowers
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Reliably winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. Best growth occurs in a sandy/gritty, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. In hot desert climates, it will tolerate full sun but probably grows best in filtered sun. Sharp soil drainage is important. Poorly-drained soils may lead to root rot. Tolerates dry soils and drought. Plant must be reproduced vegetatively (seeds are not produced).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Agave desmettiana, often commonly called spineless jade agave or smooth agave, is a rosette-forming perennial succulent that is believed to be native to southeastern Mexico (Oaxaca, Yucatan and Veracruz). It has been widely cultivated in Mexico, Europe, southwestern U. S. and Florida. It is most noted for its attractive, dark blue-green leaves, but is also noted for its infrequent but spectacular flowering spikes which appear at the end of each plant's life cycle. Each leaf (to 20-40" long and to 3 1/2" wide) is thick, rigid, fleshy and linear-lanceolate with smooth margins and a single reddish sharp terminal spine (to 1/2" long). Suckers/offsets root at the base of the rosette forming over time a colony of rosettes. Each rosette will flower only once, usually at some point between 8-10 years. The flowering rosette dies after flowering, but new rosettes formed by suckers/offsets from the base of the mother plant will remain. The flowering stalk rises from the center of a rosette to 8' tall, producing side branches containing terminal clusters of pale yellow flowers. In its native habitat, flowers typically bloom in spring to early summer (May-June). Seed pods and seeds do not appear.

Genus name comes from the Greek word agauos meaning admirable or noble in probable reference to the very tall flower spikes found on the plants of many species of Agave.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Agave weevil can be troublesome. Slugs and snails may damage foliage. Root rot may occur, particularly in poorly-drained or overly-moist soils.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, this agave serves as an interesting tropical accent or specimen. Mass plantings can be spectacular. Container plant for areas where it is not winter hardy.