Growing Agave Desmettiana: Learn Care Tips For The Smooth Agave

Agave Desmettiana (a-GAH-vee de-smet-ee-AY-na) the smooth Agave, is a succulent shrub member of the Agave plant family.

Agaves were previously classified as part of the Agavaceae family. The family has been reclassified as a subfamily under the Asparagaceae family.

It’s a plant that has been cultivated for centuries but originally hails from Mexico.

The botanical name is partly derived from the Greek word ‘agavos’ translates to noble or admirable.

The name ‘desmettiana’ (sometimes known as Agave desmetiana) is a nod to the celebrated Belgian horticulturalist Louis De Smet.

Smooth agave - Dwarf desmettiana century plant
Dwarf century plant – Desmettiana – image: Wikimedia Commons

The common names include:

  • Smooth Agave
  • Dwarf Century Plant
  • Smooth Century Plant

Desmettiana is also known by these synonyms:

  • Agave regeliana
  • Agave ananassoides
  • Agave miradorensis

Smooth Agave Desmettiana Care

Size and Growth

The dwarf century plant has a slow to medium growth rate and can grow 3’ feet tall with a spread of 3’ to 4’ when it’s planted in the ground.

When grown in pots or containers, plants will have a slightly smaller spread and growth. It is best grown in USDA hardiness zones 8 and 10.

Several varieties are available on the market:

  • Agave desmettiana variegata – the variegated variety has succulent bright green leaves with a bright yellow edge looking almost backlit
  • Agave desmettiana quicksilver – the leaves hold a brilliant silver stripe.

Flowering and Fragrance

This beautiful plant has an appearance similar to the octopus agave plant.

The leaves grow in a rosette pattern and a dark shade of green with star-shaped stems.

They’re generally smooth textured but are known to have tiny feet or spines along the edges.

The leaves thin out towards the edge, curving at the tip that is a lighter shade of red, giving the plant a gorgeous tint.

Smooth century agaves take a very long time to flower in spring to early summer and only does so once in its lifetime.

But when it does it will produce 1.5” long pale yellow flowers. These flowers sit on a flowering stalk reaching 8’ to 10’ feet tall.

It can sometimes produce ‘bulbs’ which adds more character to the plant’s appearance.

The blooming process of smooth agave can take a long time, sometimes going up to several months.

The flowers at the base of the stalk will open up first, followed by the ones higher up.

Light and Temperature

This is a light loving plant that can tolerate the full sun but thrives in filtered, slightly shaded light.

It’s not a very cold tolerant plant, preferring arid environments instead.

In the winter months, it is best brought indoors if the temperature is expected to drop below 27 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smooth agave is not a frost-hardy plant and becomes damaged if left outdoors in extremely cold temperatures.

Watering and Feeding

Desmettiana is drought tolerant making overwatering a major concern with this low maintenance plant and should be avoided at all costs.

Smooth agave has low water needs and is fairly drought resistant.

During the hotter months, water more regularly.

Use warm water, and don’t allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

However, as the temperature drops, reduce the watering frequency to avoid root rot.

This plant only needs feeding during the spring and summer months.

Soil and Transplanting

Smooth dwarf agave requires well-drained, non-fertile soil. Sandy loam, a commercial cactus potting mix or a succulent potting mix works well.

Smooth agave does not need frequent transplanting.

Because of its slow growth rate, it will take quite some time for it to outgrow its container.

However, if you choose to repot make sure you use a well-drained potting mix. Do not plant desmettiana too deep or else the plant risk root rot.

Grooming and Maintenance

This is a no-fuss plant which does not require a ton of maintenance.

Trim the spines off the leaves if the plant is placed in a spot with lots of traffic.

Plants can be groomed to emphasize the shape of the plant by removing suckers around the base.

How to Propagate Smooth Dwarf Agave

Propagate plants by removing offsets from the mother plant.

To remove the offset but make sure not to cut too close to the base.

Close cuts may hinder its ability to grow.

Let the cut dry out before planting the offset into a prepared rooting mix.

Once it begins growing, feed with a soluble fertilizer and water it as needed to encourage healthy growth.

Smooth Century Agave Pest or Disease Problems

This plant is generally pest and disease free. However, it can be susceptible to root rot if overwatered and occasional attacks from the agave snout weevil.

Make sure the potting soil does not hold too much moisture.

Suggested Landscape Uses For Dwarf Agave

Smooth agave is a great plant to use for xeriscapes due to its low watering needs.

It can also be used as an accent piece or focal point in the garden due to its beautiful, unique appearance.

Its moderate size makes it a good option for container gardens. Plant as a single specimen or in groups spaced 5′-6′ apart.

It can also be used as a houseplant if placed in a sunny location.