12 Varieties and Types of Agave Plants

There are more than 300 types of agave. Most of them are large plants not suitable for growing in rooms. But there are also compact varieties that are very popular in room culture. Here are some of them:

  • Agave americana – a large flower with a rosette of green-blue serrated leaves. It has very sharp spikes. It grows well in the open field and in the greenhouse,
  • Agave americana ‘Yellow Ribbons’ – variegated variety of American agave. Its long leaves with sharp tips have white or yellowish stripes on the edges,
  • Agave americana ‘Mediopicta Alba’ – A compact variety of American agave. The rather wide and short blue-green leaves have a white band in the central part,
  • Queen Victoria Agave – compact succulent, often found in indoor culture. It has a very dense foliage from many fleshy leaves. The color of the leaves is dark green, there is a thorn at the end

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types of agave plants

Agave Plant Care Requirements

Light

All succulents, including agave, require direct sunlight, so it is best to place the plant in the south or southeast window. In summer you can move it to the open balcony or loggia for sunbathing. If the windows of your apartment are facing north or northwest and west, the plant needs special lighting with a grow light.

Agave can withstand even the most scorching sunlight, does not burn, and does not require shade like some other succulents. But if the agave was in a low-light place for a long time, then you should not immediately place it in direct sunlight. You have to get it used to the sunlight gradually.

Water

All desert plants do not like excessive moisture. During the period of active growth, the plant requires moderate watering, that is, no more than 2 times in 7 days, so that the soil dries out between irrigations. Water 1-2 times a month in cold weather. It needs good drainage so that moisture does not stagnate. It is important that there is no water in the center of the rosette!

The simplicity of watering is attractive for office space and even industrial areas. If the agave grows in a room with a lot of dust, you should wipe the leaves with it. This is quite problematic, as all agave varieties have thorns and spines. To avoid injury to your hands, wipe the leaves with a damp sponge on a long handle.

The humidity of the air in the room where the agave is located must be sufficiently dry. For the summer period, take the spiky beauty to the fresh air. Make sure the substrate dries completely before the next watering. There must be good drainage, the excess water that has accumulated in the pan must be drained.

You don’t have to place water tanks next to the plant like some plant growers do. Such a measure is necessary for other plant species, which require high humidity.

Temperature

Due to its origin, agave likes warm, dry air, so the climate of our city apartments is perfect for her. The optimum temperature is 20 – 28°C. At a temperature of 18 – 20°C the plant slows down growth and looks depressed. Spending some time at a temperature of 10°C and below can completely destroy the plant.

Soil

Agave soil is undemanding, and in the wild it grows on rocky and sandy soils. It is only important that the soil is not too dense. Good drainage and adding sand to the universal soil mix solves all problems.

The best conditions for agave are well-drained dry and sandy soils.

Fertilizer

During the period of active growth, plant nutrition is necessary – in late spring and summer. Yes, fertilize the agave plant, combined with watering, once a month. In winter, nourishing agave is not necessary. This plant is better for undernourishing than for overfeeding. Use fertilizer that is specially made for succulents, as it has everything you need for the plant.

Repotting

Agave plant grows slowly, and rarely needs repotting. If necessary, transplant young growing plants as soon as they have outgrown the container during spring. A new pot should be 2-3 cm larger in diameter. Take special care not to bury the rosette of the plant when repotting.

Also avoid covering the stem with substrate. Instead, cover it with pebbles for quick drying at the roots of the stem. This is done so as not to limit the supply of oxygen.

It is very important when planting not to bury the neck of the plant, it should be slightly above the ground. Deep planting will cause the plant to rot.

Propagation

Agave propagates by offsets, which are formed at the base of the stem. Carefully separate them, dry a little to prevent rotting and plant in a loose soil mixture. It is helpful to powder the cuts with cinnamon powder to promote healing. The first watering should take place three days after the appearance of the roots.

It is possible to propagate agave seeds, but it is a very long and labor intensive process. Sow the seeds shallowly in the ground in early March. Water the soil with the sprinkler and covered with clear glass or plastic wrap. Shoots appear in about 7-8 days. The best temperature for seed germination is around 24°C.

After the appearance of shoots, remove the film or glass and after some time transplant into pots with a diameter of 6 cm. After a year, transplant into larger diameter containers. Soil and drainage are the same as for adult plants. Agave seeds of various types are sold in nurseries and online.

Under natural conditions, agave blooms over a period of 10 to 20 years. This is very special. In large species, a ten-meter stem grows within a month, in smaller species it reaches 3 meters. Then gradually thousands of small flowers appear on the stem. The plant dies after flowering, because it gives all its energy to flowering and ripening seeds.

Pests and Diseases

The main plant pests are mealybugs and scale insects. After purchasing an agave from a store, check for pests. At the initial stage of infection, it is enough to wipe the leaves well, especially at the back with a solution of alcohol. The procedure is repeated twice within 4-5 days. If you see that there are a lot of pests, then such insect colonies should be removed with the help of insecticides. Buy them from a specialty store and follow the instructions strictly.

If black-brown spots appear on the leaves of your agave, this indicates a fungal infection. The basic principle of the fight against the disease – special antifungal preparations containing copper.

Medicinal Properties of Agave Plants

Many varieties of agave have healing properties, but the most commonly used variety is American agave. The juice is extracted from the leaves – the main raw material for many traditional medicines. When used externally, it aids in treating minor cuts, bruises, burns, injuries, and skin irritation from insect bites.

When used internally, it normalizes metabolism and improves the work of the entire digestive tract. It has a mild diuretic and laxative effect.

Types of Agave Plants

Read also:
12 Types of Succulents for Outdoors

American agave (Agave americana)

This type contains many vitamins and minerals. It is also considered one of the most effective aids in traditional medicine. The homeland of this species is Central America, but it also got used to life in Russia, in places such as the Black Sea coast in the Caucasus and on the southern coast of the Crimea.

American agave is a plant with a thick short stem and a rosette of fleshy bluish-green leaves, the length of which reaches 2 m. The leaves have an elongated shape, the top of which is twisted into a pointed tube.

An adult shrub of this species in width can reach a size of 3 to 4 m. Flowering occurs at about 6 to 15 years old.

This species has several subspecies that differ in leaf color:

  • Agave americana ‘Marginata’ – leaves have bright yellow edges,
  • Agave americana ‘Mediopicta Aurea’ – in the center of the leaves is a longitudinal wide yellow stripe.

Thread Leaf Agave (Agave filifera)

Agave filifera, or thread leaf agave, grows in the open spaces of Mexico. It is a small plant with stiff leaves, on which there are a large number of white threads, from which the name of the species is derived.

The plant is a small dense shrub with densely planted matte leaves. They have a lance-like shape and grow in length from 15 to 20 cm.

There are several subspecies:

  • Agave filifera subsp. filifera,
  • Agave filifera subsp. microceps,
  • Agave filifera subsp. multifilifera,
  • Agave filifera subsp. schidigera.

Queen Victoria Agave (Agave victoria-reginae)

This is one of the most beautiful representatives of the species in this family. The homeland of this species is the rocky, elevated slopes of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. This plant is named after the English ruler – Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria Agave is a neat compact shrub with succulent dark green leaves. They have a beautiful lanceolate shape and only grow to 6 inches long.

Sisal (Agave sisalana)

Initially, this plant came from southern Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula. As a result, due to the crude fiber obtained from the leaves, it spread to many tropical and subtropical regions. Above all, it is grown in Brazil, as this country is the leader in the production of sisal fiber.

This species is a large rosette of leaf-shaped leaves. Their length can be up to 2.5 meters. On the edge of the young leaves are many spines that have been lost over time.

During flowering, a tall flower stalk suddenly grows from the rosette, on which corymbose inflorescences of numerous yellow-green flowers are formed. After flowering the plant dies.

Blue Agave (Agave azul)

This variety is also called tequila (agave tequilana) or Mexican agave, because it is from the blue agave that is made Mexico’s traditional drink: tequila.

The blue agave has fleshy, elongated leaves with a blue tint. Their surface is very hard and dull, and inside the leaves are filled with sap.

Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana)

One of the most unusual varieties of the Agave family. This plant is named after Maurice de Villemoren, who was a French botanist engaged in forestry and dendrology. For the first time this flower was discovered in the state of Guadalajara. It mainly grows in mountainous Mexican areas.

The main feature of this species is an unusual rosette, the shape of which resembles an octopus. The leaves of this flower are long, linear, the edges are slightly wavy.

They have a bright bluish-green hue and a dark marble pattern on the surface.

Agave vivipara

types of agave plants
“Agave vivipara” by boofboat is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The most common form, which is why the name has many synonyms. It grows in Mexico, South Africa and Portugal.

This is a perennial that grows up to 80 cm in height and is approximately the same width. It has a spherical rosette, with pointed leaves. The width of the leaves varies from 4 to 10 cm, and their shade from gray-green to bright green.

Many inflorescences with large yellowish flowers are formed at the top. There are different kinds:

  • Agave vivipara var. vivipara,
  • Agave vivipara var. deweyana,
  • Agave vivipara var. letonae,
  • Agave vivipara var. nivea,
  • Agave vivipara var. sargentii.

Hedgehog Agave (Agave stricta)

This is a decorative species from the Agave family. Its homeland is the Mexican state of Pueblo. This species has very juicy upright leaves, which are slightly wider at the base and become sharply linear, and their tips are short-pointed. Sometimes the leaves can bend slightly.

With age, this plant begins to branch. Its peduncle is quite long, reaching a length of 2.5 meters.

Quadricolor Century Plant (Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’)

Ornamental plant with elongated thick leaves. It has flat, saw-like leaves growing in an outward spiral from a thick rosette base. They have a narrow tip, with a small tip at the end. The surface of the leaves is marked by a characteristic wax coating. The Quadricolor Century Plant has a pale green midstripe and dark green leaves with yellow edges.

Desert Agave (Agave deserti)

types of agave plants
“Agave deserti” by campsjc is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

It lives in desert areas and on the rocky slopes of California and Arizona. This plant forms a rosette of fleshy gray-green leaves, the length of which can reach from 20 to 70 cm. There are sharp points on the edges and at the ends of the leaves.

It begins to flower in age from 20 to 40 years, after which the plant dies.

There are two subspecies:

  • Agave deserti var. deserti – it is distinguished by numerous rosettes and a perimeter tube of 3-5 mm. Germinates exclusively in the expanses of Southern California.
  • Agave deserti var. simplex – this subspecies has one or more outlets and a color tube 5 to 10 mm long. Cultivated in Arizona and Southern California.

Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi)

It has a unique decorative look very similar to the agave parrasana. It is grown in the mountainous sandy terrain of the south of the US and in Mexico. It has a rather loose rosette, with elongated egg-shaped leaves. The tip of the leaves is pointed with a small dark thorn.

The color range varies from light green to gray green. Inflorescences grow to the height of 20 cm and form about 30 brushes, with a set of light flowers.

Foxtail Agave (Agave attenuata)

An interesting representative of the Agave family, which can grow even inside a small pot. The homeland of this species is the city of Jalisco, located in the Mexican state of Guadalajara.

This species has a characteristic, curved stem shape that resembles a gooseneck, which grows to about 1 m in height and has juicy, soft leaves no longer than 60 cm. It has a semi-transparent color from gray to greenish-yellow tones. Before flowering, the stem becomes bare and sheds the upper bushy part. The inflorescence is quite high and can grow up to 3 m.

Yucca vs Agave

The yucca actually belong to the agave family. Many different plants belong to this subfamily, which are usually persistent or perennial and usually cannot tolerate frost. They are native to many parts of the world.

Like all agave plants, the yucca belongs to the asparagus family. The famous vegetable asparagus or agave, whose juice can be used to make tequila, also belongs to this family. The fibers of some types of yucca and agave are processed. Other species serve as ornamental plants in gardens or parks and also as house plants.

Most species of the yucca come from Central America, preferably from Mexico and the border area of ​​the USA. Many species grow in dry areas, but some also in mountainous areas. As a result, they have different conditions for their care. What all species have in common is that they prefer it dry and do not tolerate much rain or waterlogging.

Sometimes the specimens of the species Yucca gloriosa, known as the Spanish dagger, are confused with the agaves. However, their leaves, which are also arranged in the form of a rosette, are significantly thinner and contain less water. This may also be the main reason why these plants are very hardy when compared to many agave species . The Spanish dagger flowers in a suitable location every year and tends to develop a woody trunk base than agaves. This plant can be an exotic-looking alternative if the similar-looking agaves cannot be overwintered outdoors due to the local temperatures.

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