Agave cantala (Bombay Aloe) is a very attractive, evergreen, perennial, succulent plant forming a rosette of leaves that can be up to 2 meters long. Towards the end of its life, the plant puts up a flowering stem up to 8 meters tall.
Scientific Name: Agave cantala (Haw.) Roxb. ex Salm-Dyck
Synonyms: Furcraea cantala
Common Names: Bombay Aloe, Cantala, Cantala Fibre, Cebu Maguey, Manila Maguey
Benefits of Agave cantala:
- The shoot buds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable.
- The leaf is used in the treatment of wounds.
- A fiber is obtained from the leaves. The fiber is finer but less strong than that of sisal (Agave sisalana) and henequen (Agave fourcroydes) and it is more suitable for spinning than that of sisal.
- It is mainly used for baskets, mats, fishing-nets, ropes, harvest binding strings, hammocks, bags, and sandals.
- Agave cantala (Bombay Aloe) is often planted as a hedge along the roadsides and in gardens, it is also used for reducing soil erosion along rivers and brooks
- The roots contain saponins and can be used as a soap substitute.
How to grow and maintain Agave cantala (Bombay Aloe) – Succulent plants:
It thrives best in full sun to light shade. A south or south-east facing window works great.
It prefers to grow in well-drained soil. Use standard succulent or cacti potting mix.
It prefers warm spring and summer temperatures 70ºF/21ºC – 90ºF/32ºC and cooler fall and winter temperatures 50ºF/10ºC – 60ºF/15ºC.
In spring, water this plant when the top inch of soil is totally dry. Don’t let the soil become completely dry. In the winter and fall, when growth is suspended, water very lightly. Too much water can cause root rot or cause the leaves to become pale and flop.
Fertilize with a standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks during spring and summer. Do not feed during fall and winter.
It can be easily propagated from offshoots which is the fastest and most reliable method of agave plant production. Agave plants put out offshoots from the base of the mother plant that is easily removed to begin a new plant. Growing agave from seed produces a large number of plants quickly. A moist, sterile soil mix containing equal parts perlite and sphagnum peat is ideal for germinating seeds in a warm location with indirect light. The soil must stay lightly moist until the plants are established. A clear plastic covering helps keep the soil moist during the two to three weeks until the seeds sprout, then a daily misting keeps the seedlings moist until ready to transplant.
Pests and Diseases:
It has no serious pest or disease problems. Watch for mealybugs and scale.