The century plant, otherwise known as the Agave americana, is a plant that blooms only once in its life. The botanical term for this phenomenon is monocarpic. But more on that in a minute.
So, if you have one of these and see it bloom, savor it because that will be the last time.
How Often Does a Century Plant Bloom?
If you think the question—‘How often does a century plant bloom?’ is a puzzle, you might think that the name of the plant is a big giveaway. But contrary to popular belief it does not take the century plant a literal 100 years to bloom. But it is true that it blooms only once, typical of many other Agave species.
The century plant blooms only once but even for that, it has to reach maturity. This definitely happens after the plant is 10 years of age. Typically, you can expect the plant to bloom anywhere after 10 years and before it hits the big 3-0.
But the blooming is also highly dependent on the weather conditions in which the plant is growing. That is why, every once in a while, you will see that a century plant has produced flowers after the age of 30. So, if you just planted one or got a century plant that is nowhere near its maturity age, well then you are going to be waiting a while.
This behavior is not peculiar because many plant species that belong to the Agave genus are monocarpic. This particular plant grows quite slowly, but when it blooms, you will notice flowers in yellow clusters growing at the edge of the plant’s horizontal branches.
How Long Do Century Plant Blooms Last?
Since the bloom depends on the climate of the region, it is hard to tell how long it will last. This is also the case because the main plant starts to die immediately after it blooms. So, maintenance is key.
The flowers are usually yellow-green in color and come out facing upwards. The flowers are in the shape of a huge spear that looks like asparagus. They are about 3-4 inches long and grow in a cluster on top of the tallest stalk. This stalk can be very large and grow anywhere from 10 to 25 feet in height. The tallest stalk or the flower stalk grows out of a thick rosette of leaves that are gray-green in color.
Will a Century Plant Die after It Blooms?
What makes this plant all the most fascinating is that even though they are monocarpic, it does not mean that the entire plant dies as soon as the flower appears. The main stalk that is sometimes called the mother plant dies. But several “daughter” pups continue to grow for a while and they can be used to propagate the plant.
Can You Stop an Agave from Flowering?
Yes actually. And it is not that difficult of a process either. If you want to stop your Agave plant, not just the century plant, you must start by locating the bloom stalk on the plant.
For the century plant, it is easy to spot it because it is the tallest stalk. To stop an Agave from blooming, you need to cut this stalk right after it starts growing out. And while it might stop the plant from flowering, it will not keep the plant alive for eternity. In fact, you might be interested to know that in a lot of monocarpic Agave plants, the starting of a bloom is a sign that the plant is about to die.