Agave Attenuata Care: Learn To Grow The Foxtail Agave

Agave attenuata is an unusual succulent belonging to the Agave plant genus and the Asparagaceae family of plants.

It’s native to central Mexico in the state of Jalisco where it produces long, curved flower stalks with greenish-yellow flower color.

Several Agave attenuate plants growing in the landscape in front of commercial buildingPin

This plant has a slow growth rate like most succulents do. You have the option to plant them in pots for indoor setups.

The common name of Attenuata agave [a-GAH-vee] [at-ten-yoo-AY-tuh] includes:

  • Fox Tail Agave
  • Lion’s Tail
  • Swan’s Neck
  • Spineless Century plant

… all due to the interesting, curved inflorescence.

Agave Attenuata Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Agave Attenuata
  • Common Name(s): Foxtail Agave, Lion’s Tail Agave
  • Synonyms: Agave attenuata var. attenuata, Agave attenuata var. marginata
  • Family & Origin: Asparagaceae family, native to central Mexico
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 9-11
  • Size: Grows up to 20-28′ inches tall and 5-6′ inches in width
  • Flowering: Produces yellow-green flowers on a tall spike in the summer
  • Light: Prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate some shade
  • Humidity: Tolerate low humidity
  • Temperature: Tolerate temperatures as low as 30°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil, can tolerate poor soil conditions
  • Water: Water thoroughly but allow soil to dry out between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize once a month during growing season with a balanced fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites, root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagate through offsets or by seed
  • Plant Uses: Makes a great accent plant in a garden or as a potted plant indoors or outdoors. Can also be used in xeriscaping.

How To Care For Agave Attenuata Fox Tail

How Big Does Attenuata Fox Tail Agave Grow?

The yellowish-green leaves grow in a handsome rosette near the base, ranging from 20” to 28” inches in length and 5” to 6” inches in width. As the leaves die off, the stems remain visible.

These stems can reach heights of 60” inches. However, the inflorescence can reach up to ten feet.

Plants can be grouped together in a mass or planted alone as a specimen in a rock garden.

It can be included in gardens frequented by children, whereas the spines on the century plant can be hazardous to youngsters nearby. 

The arching flower stalk curves back towards the ground and sometimes feature a second arch, resembling a foxtail.

The foxtail agave produces many “suckers” or offshoots. These offshoots increase the clumping of the foliage, resulting in thicker growth.

Does The Foxtail Agave Flower?

When the inflorescence blooms, the flower stalk features small, greenish-yellow petals.

They have the colors of green, white, and yellow. However, flowering is very rare as it only occurs once in its lifetime.

It is perhaps most noted for its attractive leaves and its huge drooping flower stems. 

The rosette dies after flowering, but suckers/offsets at the base remain as new plants. Additional common names for this plant include Lion’s Tail Agave, Dragon Tree Agave, swan’s Neck, and Foxtail. 

These flowers eventually fall and are replaced by seed pods, making agave propagation easy.

What Lighting and Temperatures Does The Fox Tail Agave Prefer?

The cactus should be planted in partial shade and grows very well in full sun.

However, if it’s been grown in the shade, it needs to get acclimated to the sun when transplanting.

These plants require full sun to part shade. If you are growing Agaves indoors, choose a bright, sunny window with as much sun as possible. 

It is intolerant to frost and freezing temperatures. Avoid planting it outdoors if temperatures drop below 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

If the climate in your location isn’t suited for raising foxtail agave, then, don’t push it.

Typically, you should aim for a room-temperature environment. While you want to avoid freezing weather, you also want to avoid extreme temperatures.

Botanical illustration of Agave attenuate showing inflorescene, flowers and specimen plantPin

How Much Water And Fertilizer Does The Plant Need?

The foxtail has low water needs. It is drought-tolerant and only requires occasional watering to keep the ground from completely drying out.

Luckily, it’s hard to overwater the foxtail Agave plant.

During the summer growing season, apply a weak balanced liquid fertilizer to the Fox Tail Agave. In general, the plant requires little additional fertilizing.

During the summer, thoroughly water the plant about once per week. As the temperature cools, you should need to water it less frequently.

In fact, during the winter, you hardly need to water the plant at all.

When watering, you don’t need to water the leaves. For potted plants, water the soil thoroughly and allow the water to drain completely.

Do not allow the plant to sit in water.

Related: Details on Potted Agave Care

Foxtail Soil and Transplanting Needs

The plant should be grown in sandy, well-drained soil mixed with lots of gravel. The soil should offer good drainage and remain dry most of the time.

However, the foxtail attenuata can be planted in almost any soil that offers good drainage. The sandy soil just makes it easier to ensure that the soil will drain well.

NOTE: It’s also important to avoid planting it in an area that gets a lot of strong breezes or cold temperatures.

When planting multiple plants in the landscape, keep them about eight feet apart. This offers enough space for the plants to reach their maximum spread of eight feet.

You should also use caution when transplanting. The Foxtail Agave doesn’t hold up well to sudden changes in lighting.

Transplanting plants from partial shade to full sun may burn the leaves.

When placing it in a container or pot, the plant does not need a deep pot. The root structure doesn’t go very deep. While the plant still grows in deep soil, it’s simply a waste of soil.

The soil should also be replaced every two years when the plant is planted in a container or pot.

You can remove the offsets when transplanting or repotting, especially if they’re crowding the mother plant.

Pruning, Grooming, and Trimming Agave Plants

The only plant grooming required is if you’re worried about the leaves getting too large. You may want to remove the basal suckers for aesthetics or propagation purposes.

Group of flowering Fox Tail agave attenuataPin
Collection of flowering Swan’s Neck Agave showing why they earned the name “Fox Tail Agave”

How To Propagate The Foxtail Agave

To propagate Fox tail agave, simply collect the offsets or collect the seed pods. Remove the pods in the spring or summer and let them dry for several days.

The agave seeds germinate when fresh and should be placed in good potting soil.

Is Attenuata Subject To Pest and Disease Problems?

The plant may experience issues with the following:

Popular Varieties Of Fox Tail Agave

The Foxtail attenuata ray of light is an attractive plant with unique features. As with many plants, you’ll find a few select varieties or cultivars available.

Here are a few attenuata choices:

  • Agave cernua
  • A. attenuata “Ray Of Light” – variegated selection, white streak on the outside edge of the leaf.
  • A. attenuata ‘Nova’ (aka ‘Boutin Blue’) – a ‘blue” selection
  • Attenuata is one of the parents of Agave Blue Glow.

Related Reading: The Artichoke Agave (Agave Parryi)

Suggested Attenuata Uses

The swan’s neck Agave is commonly grown in gravel and rock gardens. It also looks great potted container plant in courtyards, southwestern landscapes, and Mediterranean gardens or used as a border plant in a flower bed.

This Agave plant makes a dramatic focal point or accent and can be used in decorative pots. 

They are great for beds and borders, rock, and succulent gardens, too. You can also plant them on patios.  

It helps add more texture to a garden bed, especially when the “foxtail” sprouts.

When planting in a garden, remember that the attenuata Agave has a spread of up to 8′ feet.

Larger commercial landscapes have room for multiple mass plantings, which can create a dramatic impact.

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