Family: Century Plant, AGAVACEAE
The gigantic leaf-rosettes of these splendid succulents rank them among the most popular accent plants for modern gardens. They grow in poor soil, forming 2m/6ft clumps, and need plenty of water to look in top condition. Agave attenuata produces arching spikes of yellow flowers up to 4.5m/14ft long.
The closely related Century Plant (Agave americana) may take a good 10 years before it decides to send up a 6m/ 20ft spike of greenish flowers. Then it will give up the ghost after leaving the legacy of a few suckers.
While you cope with the suspense of waiting for the big flowering event, you will enjoy the dramatic appearance of its viciously spined leaves blue-green or yellow-striped in the variety Agave americana ‘Marginata’. A little animal manure around an Agave works wonders.