Tips On Agave Ovatifolia Care

In the world of succulents, agave ovatifolia (a-GAH-vee, oh-vay-tih-FOH-lee-a) is an evergreen plant identified by its rounded rosette of slightly cupped, broad, gray to powdery-blue leaves. 

This beautiful Agave plant originates from the Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico, the plant is an unbelievably cold hardy agave and grows easily. 

Agave ovatifolia - whale tongue agavePin

The agave plant will be a perfect landscape addition as it combines with various agave species and used for decoration. 

Widely available in the United States, agave ovatifolia was first introduced to the in the 1980s by Texas nurseryman, Lynn Lowrey. Agave expert Greg Starr of Tucson, Arizona, and Dr. Jose Angel Villarreal officially named the plant Agave Ovatifolia in 2001. 

It is a deer-resistant plant but does attract birds, especially hummingbirds. 

Perfect as an accent plant in sunny borders, for rock gardens, Mediterranean gardens, succulent gardens, coastal gardens, or city gardens.

If you couldn’t recognize the plant from the Asparagaceae family by its botanical name, you might know it by one of its common names. 

  • Whale’s tongue agave
  • Hardy Century plant

Contrary to its name, whale’s tongue century plant doesn’t take a century for its growth. 

The plant’s growth rate is moderate and it does take a few years to reach its full size.

Agave Ovatifolia Plant Care

Size & Growth

Agave ovatifolia is recognized by its distinctively cupped green-gray leaves with small teeth and a 1″ inch long terminal spine. 

Ovatifolia neds about 10 years for its full growth. 

This agave species can grow leaves almost 3′ feet long and 11″ inches wide. Mature plants reach 3′-4′ feet tall and 5′-6′ feet across. Including the flower stalk, the plant can reach up to 14′ feet high.

Flowering and Fragrance

Agave ovatifolia takes years to reach its full size and flower only once. 

They produce a 14′ foot tall flowering spike bearing clusters of greenish-yellow flowers. 

After flowering, the adult plant dies. Even though the agave plant doesn’t produce offsets, it does reproduce via bulbils and seeds.  

Light & Temperature

A drought-tolerant plant, Agave ovatifolia requires full sun to light shade for proper growth. 

These slow-growing plants will thrive perfectly well on a bit of neglect as well. 

This makes them a perfect option for succulent gardens. 

It grows well in USDA zone or hardiness zones 7-11 and can withstand the temperatures from 5° to 50° degrees Fahrenheit (-15° – 10° C).

The plants bloom time will vary based on climate.

Watering and Feeding

The agave ovatifolia plant has minimum water needs. It easily thrives on low water requirements. 

However, they can grow much larger with regular irrigation. 

  • In the first month, water young plants every 4-5 days. 
  • Next, change your watering schedule to once per week. 
  • Once ovatifolia fully matures, water plants monthly in winter and every couple of weeks in summer. 
  • Provide additional water only when the top inch or two of the soil is dry.
  • The plant has low fertilization needs. 
  • For the long life of the plant, it is better to keep the fertilizer away from it. 
  • However, if you wish to encourage flowering, feeding can do wonders. 
  • In this regard, it is crucial to remember the agave plant dies soon after flowering.

Soil & Transplanting

The plant needs well-drained soil. It is not particular about soil pH and would prefer sandy or rocky soil. 

Growing them in full sun is ideal if you want the plant to bloom in all its glory.

Grooming and Maintenance

Agave ovatifolia is not a high-maintenance plant. 

Ideally, you should remove dead leaves at the end of the winter season using a clean, sharp knife. 

Don’t cut the plant too much as it will end up impeding the plant’s ability to store water.

Related: What’s the Difference between Aloe and Agave

How To Propagate Agave Ovatifolia

The propagation of the plant is easily done by bulbils and seed. 

Since the plant doesn’t produce offsets, sow the seeds in early spring in a well-lit, remote spot in a garden. 

Since the plant type is solitary, they will easily thrive in the corner of your garden.

Agave Ovatifolia Pest or Disease

The plant is relatively disease-free and doesn’t harm animals and humans. 

However, you have to exercise some caution if you have the plant in your house. 

Since it has sharp teeth, make sure the plant is not near pets or children. 

Also, even though the plant is “disease-free”, do watch for plant scale pests. Use Neem Oil insecticide to control the scale. As a preventative consider adding Neem when watering as a drench.

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It is crucial to remember the plant has low water requirements.

If its soil remains wet for long, its root will begin to rot. More on treating Agave Root Rot here.

Agave Ovatifolia Uses

The plant is widely used in the landscape as a decorative plant. 

Since the plant requires minimum care, it is the top choice of gardeners who cannot spend too much time on garden maintenance. 

The plant has beautiful ornamental foliage and its flower color is also quite attractive. 

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