Desert Agave (Agave deserti) – Succulent plants

Desert Agave (Agave deserti) - Succulent plants

Agave deserti is a very attractive, succulent plant. It forms a rosette of fleshy gray-green leaves 20–70 cm long and 4.5–10 cm broad, with sharp spines along the edges and at the tips. Desert Agave flowers at maturity (20 to 40 years), sending up an inflorescence 2–6 m tall. The panicle bears numerous yellow, funnel-shaped flowers 3–6 cm long.

Scientific Classification:

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave

Scientific Name: Agave deserti Engelm.
Synonyms: Agave consociata, Agave desertii, Agave desertii subsp. desertii, Agave deserti var. deserti, Agave deserti subsp. deserti.
Common Names: Desert Agave, Mescal, Century Plant, Maguey.

Benefits of Agave deserti:

  • Alcoholic drinks were manufactured from the sweet juices of this and other agaves.
  • The desert-dwelling Native Americans used fibers from the leaves to make cloth, bowstrings, and rope.
  • Young flower stalks (roasted), buds, and hearts of plants (also roasted) were eaten.
  • Commonly harvested the “heads” using a specialized digging stick and roasted the leaves and heart alike. Food thus obtained often became a dietary staple, even into drought years.

Desert Agave (Agave deserti)

How to grow and maintain Desert Agave (Agave deserti):

Light:
It thrives best in full sun to light shade. A south or south-east facing window works great.

Soil:
It prefers to grow in well-drained soil. Use standard succulent or cacti potting mix.

Temperature:
It prefers warm spring and summer temperatures 70ºF/21ºC – 90ºF/32ºC and cooler fall and winter temperatures 50ºF/10ºC – 60ºF/15ºC.

Water:
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.

Fertilizer:
Fertilize with a standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks during spring and summer. Do not feed during fall and winter.

Propagation:
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.

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