Agave attenuata
Common Name: century plant 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Mexico
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Rarely flowers
Bloom Description: Yellow green to white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12 where it grows best in a sandy/gritty, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates poor soils. Also tolerates dry soils and drought, but appreciates regular watering. Plant leaves will shrivel in dry conditions, but will revive when given moisture. Intolerant of frosts particularly when temperatures dip below 28 degrees F.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Agave attenuata, commonly called century plant, is a rosette forming perennial succulent that is native to the plateaus/mountains of central Mexico. It is perhaps most noted for its attractive leaves and its huge drooping flower stems. Spineless, fleshy, ovate, light gray to pale yellowish-green evergreen leaves (to 28” long) form a large symmetrical rosette. Suckers/offsets root at the base of the rosette forming over time a colony of rosettes. With age, a stem/trunk to 3’ long may develop, with the trunk becoming visible as the older leaves of the rosette fall off. Each rosette will flower only once, usually when the plant reaches about 10 years old. The “flower” is a huge recurving raceme to 5-10’ tall with small, drooping, densely-packed, yellow-green to white flowers. Flowers are followed by seed pods. The rosette dies after flowering, but suckers/offsets at the base remain as new plants. Additional common names for this plant include lion’s tail, swan’s neck and foxtail. Plants may be grown outdoors in parts of California, southern Texas and southern Florida.

The genus name Agave 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.

Specific epithet refer to the gradual reduction of the leaf as it tapers to a slender point.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails may damage foliage.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, it makes and interesting tropical accent or specimen. Mass plantings can be spectacular. Borders. Container plant for areas north of USDA Zone 10.