Agave angustifolia [a-GAH-vee angustifolia] is a member of the Agavaceae family and is native to Costa Rica, Central America, and Mexico (Sonora).
This evergreen succulent plant is a monocarpic perennial.
You may hear it called by its common names including:
- Narrow-Leaved Century Plant
- Variegated Caribbean Agave
- Marginata Caribbean Agave
- Mescal Agave
- Variegated Maguey Lechugilla
There are several different Agave varieties of this interesting, medium-sized Agave.
Here are a few Agave species variations:
- Agave angustifolia ‘marginata’
- Agave variegata
- Agave americana
- Agave vivipara
- Agave angustifolia var. marginata
- Agave vivipara var. marginata
Agave Angustifolia Care
Size & Growth
Narrow-Leaved Century Plant may grow to be about 4′ feet high and wide with creamy white margins on the leaves.
The size and spread of this plant depend on the variety you choose and its environment.
The foliage of this cacti succulent grows in a rosette formation atop a short trunk up to 2′ feet tall.
The plant’s leaves are pale green with creamy-white margins, quite stiff and very dangerous.
It has sharp spines on the tips of the leaves with marginal teeth and a sharp terminal spine.
Flowering & Fragrance
These monocarpic plants may bloom sometime after the age of ten years.
When the parent plant blooms, it produces a great number of blooms with a yellowish-green flower color that sit atop a spike with well-branched panicles attaining a height of 16′ feet tall.
Sometimes the flower stalk produces tiny plantlets or bulbils for replanting.
Bulbils also form in the inflorescence to help perpetuate this plant.
Agave flowers are fragrant, attractive to pollinators and edible.
Light & Temperature
These plants perform best in a full sun setting, but they can tolerate partial shade.
In areas where the Western sun is quite punishing, some sun protection is advised.
Century Plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 or down to 25° degrees Fahrenheit (-4° C).
Watering & Feeding
Once established, Mescal Agave is very drought tolerant and needs little or no supplemental water.
In very hot summer months, water slowly and deeply occasionally.
Remember watering or fertilizing will increase the plants’ rate of growth.
Additionally, fertilizing may spur the plant to bloom, which will ultimately cause it to die.
Soil & Transplanting
Plant Agave angustifolia in well-draining sandy soil with a small amount of loam added.
If keeping Agave as a potted plant, do not repot often.
NOTE: The Queen Victoria Agave plant makes a nice potted specimen.
These plants do well when moderately root bound, repotting is quite a hazardous task.
Agave is quite slow-growing and averse to handling and will do well in the same pot for several years.
You may wish to refresh the top of the soil annually in the springtime to provide more nourishment.
When you do repot, use all new soil and make sure the plant is well seated in its new pot so it will not topple over.
Take care not to bury it to deeply, though.
If the plant stem is covered with soil, it will rot.
Grooming & Maintenance
Grooming and maintenance of this plant are unnecessary and ill-advised.
It’s very difficult to handle Agave angustifolia plant without hurting yourself.
How To Propagate Century Plant
Variegated Caribbean Agave produces many pups (basal offshoots), so older individuals may stand in the center of a very large colony of offshoots.
When the parent plant blooms, it dies; however, it always leaves plenty of offspring to take its place.
The propagation of this plant is quite simple.
Divide the pups and replant them wherever you wish, or if the parent plant produces plantlets when it flowers, separate these and replant them.
Caribbean Agave Pest or Disease Problems
As with all Agave plants, the Agave snout weevil is a dangerous pest.
They are usually to be found in low desert settings.
Is Angustifolia Toxic Or Poisonous?
The sap of all Agave plants are very irritating to the skin, and the plants’ serrated edges and sharp tips are quite dangerous.
It’s best not to have these plants in heavily traveled locations or in settings where pets and children may encounter them.
Even though anecdotal information indicates many parts of the Agave are edible, it is important to point out the exception of the flowers, any part of an Agave plant you wish to eat must be thoroughly and properly prepared first.
The juice of the heart of the Agave is used to make tequila, but it is very carefully and thoroughly cooked in underground ovens to exacting specifications before it is used.
Is Angustifolia Invasive?
All Agaves are very slow growing and are only winter hardy in very narrow and specific settings.
Even though they are easily self-propagating, they cannot be considered invasive.
Suggested Uses for Narrow-Leaved Century Plant
The medium-sized short trunk Agave vivipara makes a nice accent in a desert garden.
Drought resistant, it is an ideal choice for xeriscaping.
Use Agave angustifolia as a specimen plant, planted in groups or even as a container plant.
Container plants (especially those kept as indoor houseplants) are unlikely to ever bloom.
The plants used to make mezcal (tequila) or as an ornamental plant.