Agave schidigera 'Shira-ito-no-ohi'
Common Name: century plant 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Rarely flowers
Bloom Description: Greenish-yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. Where winter hardy, best growth occurs in sandy/gritty, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of light shade. Also tolerant of drought, but best growth occurs when soils receive consistent moisture. Avoid wet soils. Sharp soil drainage is important. Poorly-drained soils may lead to root rot. Container plants may be grown indoors in a cactus-type potting mix. This agave may be propagated from seed or from suckers at the plant base.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Agave schidigera, commonly known as century plant, is a slow-growing, rosette-forming, perennial succulent that is native to rocky cliffs and exposed areas in Mexico. It is synonymous with and sometimes listed as Agave filifera ssp. schidigera. Each plant forms a large, evergreen, basal rosette of thick, succulent, lanceolate, hard, rigid green leaves with coarse margins and very sharp tips. Each rosette typically matures over time to as much as 1' tall by 2' wide. Each leaf features a waxy bloom, spiny tip, and showy white marginal hair-like filaments (fimbriate).

This plant is well-known for its infrequent but spectacular flowering spikes. Plants are monocarpic (bloom only once and then die). Common name of century plant suggests the plant will live 100 years before flowering. In reality, outdoor plants of this species typically bloom between the 10th and 25th years. Indoor plants rarely flower. When an outdoor plant blooms, it sends up a single, stout, erect, 10-foot tall flowering stalk from the center of the basal rosette of leaves. The flowering stalk resembles a narrow telephone pole with horizontal branching near the top. Greenish-yellow flowers (each to 2-3" long) bloom in panicles at the branch ends in July-August. Once a plant flowers, the main crown dies. Plants of this species rarely offset.

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 from Latin means bearing a splinter of wood in reference to the marginal fibers on the leaf blades.

‘Shira-ito-no-ohi’ (queen of white thread) is a variegated cultivar that features dark green leaves with creamy white borders and showy marginal hair-like white filaments. Common name comes from Japanese shira-ito meaning white-thread and no ohi meaning queen in obvious reference to the distinctive and decorative curly white leaf hairs. After flowering, the plant dies.


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.


Ornamental agave. Where winter hardy, this agave serves as an interesting tropical accent or small specimen. Plants are often grown in cactus or succulent garden areas. It will grow well in containers as an indoor plant.