Do Agave Plants Bloom?

Agave is a beautiful drought-tolerant plant adept at surviving the harsh conditions of the desert. It needs little in the way of outside care, maintenance, or water to thrive. They can make a stunning border plant in your landscaping. But do they bloom? Gardening expert Kelli Klein answers this question for you!

Two vibrant agave flowers, with sunshine yellow and lime green color, reach skyward against a canvas of clear blue sky. Their long, slender stems stand tall and proud, topped with whimsical, spiky blooms that resemble colorful bottle brushes.

Contents

There are many different varieties of agave. When you think of this plant, you might think of items commonly made from agave, like tequila, agave syrup, or skincare products made from its aloe-like inner flesh. But do you think of flowers? Probably not. Agave flowers are rare. 

Agave americana is commonly referred to as the century plant because of the misconception that they only bloom once a century. But blooms aren’t quite that rare, and there are hundreds of agave varieties with different bloom rates. Most are monocarpic, too, meaning they will only flower once in their lifetime. 

The Short Answer

Yes, they bloom! Agave americana, the most popular variety used in home gardens and landscaping, does bloom. It is one of the monocarpic varieties that blooms once and then dies shortly thereafter.

The whole purpose of the plant is to bloom to produce seeds. Once that purpose is served, it shrivels and dies. There are also a few non-monocarpic varieties, like Agave ornithobroma, which  bloom yearly and continue to live.

The Long Answer

This close-up captures the vibrant beauty of an agave plant in bloom. A cluster of lime green agave flowers with sunny yellow tips emerges from a thick branch. The spiky agave leaves provide a textural contrast to the delicate flowers, while a soft blur of green foliage in the background adds depth to the scene.
Agave americana stores starch to fuel a 25-30 feet tall flower stalk.

As mentioned above, not all agave plants bloom at the same rate. This depends on the variety and whether it is monocarpic or non-monocarpic. Agave americana got its common name, “century plant”, because it can take upwards of 80 years to produce a bloom. But this is somewhat of a misnomer since it can also take as little as ten years to produce a bloom. It just depends!

Not much is known about what drives an agave plant to flower and when, but providing it with ideal growing conditions ensures that it survives long enough to produce a flower stalk. Agaves are adapted for survival in harsh deserts and prefer sandy, well-drained, neutral soil. They don’t require much water at all outside of natural rainfall. They need full sun to thrive.

Agave americana needs to store a large amount of starch to have the energy and resources to send up a flower stalk. This inflorescence can grow up to 25-30 feet tall, and this narrow spike showcases long, tubular, yellow flowers that eventually produce seeds. 

What varieties of agave plants bloom?

Both monocarpic and non-monocarpic varieties of agave bloom. Monocarpic varieties bloom once, whereas non-monocarpic varieties can bloom yearly. Some varieties bloom but are harvested for other purposes before they get the chance to do so. 

Agave americana

Under a light blue sky, a vibrant agave garden erupts in a symphony of color. Spiky, green rosettes rise like sentinels, some topped with glowing yellow crowns of full-blown flowers. Others, still poised to burst forth, peek from their leafy towers, their tips tipped with the promise of orange curls.
The century plant blooms only once within 10-30 years and dies after flowering.

This variety is monocarpic and blooms once in its lifetime, dying shortly thereafter. These generally bloom within 10-30 years of age. The mature spread of this plant can range from 6-10 feet wide.

The grey-green leaves can grow 3-5 feet in length and are heavy with spikes at the tip. It is often referred to as the century plant since it can take multiple decades to bloom. 

Agave ornithobroma 

A close-up of a lush green agave plant, its long, slender leaves radiating outwards from the center. The leaves are a vibrant shade of green, with fine white hairs visible along the edges and undersides. The agave grows in a rocky environment, with the sharp rocks contrasting with the plant’s fleshy leaves.
Maguey Pajarito, a non-monocarpic species, blooms yearly, growing two feet tall and three feet wide.

This variety is also known as Maguey Pajarito. This non-monocarpic species can bloom yearly, but depending on the conditions, it may not bloom at all. This dense and compact species grows two feet tall and three feet wide.

It is native to Northern Mexico, where it grows in high-elevation deserts. It forms a dense solitary rosette in the center

Blue Weber Agave

A close-up view of a tequila agave plant in bloom, its vibrant lime-yellow flowers bursting forth from the center of the spiky, pointed leaves. The slender flower resembles colorful fireworks exploding amidst a sea of sharp confetti. The agave's vibrant blooms contrast beautifully with the surrounding muted foliage.
This agave rarely blooms as it’s harvested early, growing up to six feet.

The agave variety associated with tequila is Blue Weber agave. To be called tequila, it must contain at least 51% of this variety. For this reason, it doesn’t often get the chance to bloom since it is harvested before that time. Allowing it to bloom would result in the death of the plant. When left to fully mature, it can grow six feet tall and wide in about five to seven years. 

The Verdict

A photo captures the contrasting life stages of an agave plant. On the left, a vibrant bloom erupts from a thick, colorful stalk, its golden hues glowing against the clear blue sky. On the right, a stark contrast emerges - a dying agave stands skeletal and gray, its few remaining blooms wilted and lifeless.
Select agave variety based on bloom frequency, post-bloom lifespan, and intended use (edible/medicinal).

Choose the variety of agave that you plant in your yard wisely. Some factors to consider include: do you mind waiting decades for this plant to bloom? And if so, are you okay with the plant dying after it produces said bloom? Or do you want your plant to bloom annually and survive? Are you growing this plant for edible or medicinal purposes, and don’t mind if it blooms at all? 

When do agave plants bloom?

Sunlight glints off the waxy, emerald green leaves of an agave americana reaching up towards a bright blue sky. The leaves are edged with tiny teeth and tipped with sharp spines. The plant is not yet blooming, but its buds are tightly closed, waiting to burst into golden yellow flowers.
Ideal growing conditions help agaves store starches and bloom; soil moisture might trigger flowering.

Focus on providing ideal growing conditions so the plant can store starches and be ready to bloom when the moment is right. Botanists are beginning to believe that agave blooms might be triggered by the amount of soil moisture the plant received in the prior year.

But in general, plants that are bigger and healthier tend to bloom first, ahead of plants that are the same age. Most species bloom between 8 and 30 years old. In addition to producing blooms that give way to seeds, these plants produce pups that can be dug up and replanted for even more agave. 

The Verdict

A close-up view of agave americana's dramatic bloom, indoors. Green buds tightly clustered, some unfurl shyly, revealing pale yellow petals edged in emerald. Tiny wings alight on a fully opened bloom, a bee basking in the delicate nectar.
Agave flowering is uncertain; enjoy their foliage and replant pups for increased bloom chances.

The blooms of agave plants are unpredictable. If you’re growing this plant for its stunning and rare flower, then you might be rewarded within a few years, or you might never see it in your lifetime. The best approach is to grow them for their beautiful foliage and view the blooms as a bonus. You can also dig up and replant the pups to increase your chances of witnessing a bloom. 

Final Thoughts

Growing agave is worthwhile regardless of the bloom. Their grey-green leaves are beautiful and make a great addition to desert landscaping, where gardeners deal with drought, heat, and other harsh conditions. Agaves were made to thrive in these environments. If you give it a shot, you might get rewarded with a bloom, too. 

SHARE THIS POST
Wild-looking red succulent growing in a round pot topped with small white rocks. Other potted plants are positioned nearby on bright green turf. The succulent is red with a greenish center. The leaves are long and tentacle-like, growing in a rosette pattern. Each of the thick leaves has sharp tooth edges and they all grow upward and slightly toward the right.

Cacti & Succulents

37 Different Types of Aloe Plants With Names and Pictures

Are you thinking of growing aloe indoors or outdoors, but aren't sure where to start? There are many different types of aloe to choose from, depending on how you plan to grow it. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss walks through the different aloe types you can add to your indoor or outdoor garden.

Growing cactus from seeds. Close-up of young sprouted cacti in a pot under sunlight. The plant produces upright, oval bodies with small spines. These cacti exhibit a vibrant green coloration.

Cacti & Succulents

Can you Grow a Cactus from Seed?

If you’re looking for a new gardening experiment or want to fill your home with cacti in a cost-effective way, growing from seed is the answer. Gardening expert Madison Moulton explains whether you can grow cacti from seed and how to get it right.

Moon Cactus plants grow together in small containers on a table. The tops of each cacti are pink, yellow, or red.

Cacti & Succulents

How to Plant, Grow and Care For Moon Cactus Plants

Thinking of adding some moon cactus to your indoor or outdoor garden? These popular cacti have beautiful tops to the plant which come in a variety of colors. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton examines how to grow Gymnocalycium mihanovichii, including all aspects of their maintenance and care.

View of cacti and succulents grow in water on a light windowsill. Moon Cactus and Haworthiopsis limifolia grow in tall glass bottles, jars and glasses filled with water. Haworthiopsis limifolia is small, rosette-forming plant features tightly packed, upright leaves that are triangular in cross-section and covered with pronounced, raised ridges resembling the texture of a file or washboard. The Moon Cactus is a small, globular cactus with sharp yellowish-brown spines on its ribs.

Cacti & Succulents

Can Succulents Grow in Water?

Growing succulents hydroponically can reduce your need to water, help cuttings root quicker, and reduce the mess that comes with planting in soil. But there are also several downsides to consider that impact overall growth and survival. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton answers the question – can succulents grow in water?