How To Care For Agave Salmiana Plants

Agave salmiana (a-GAH-vee, salm-ee-AH-na) is an evergreen succulent, belonging to the Agavaceae or Asparagaceae family and the Agavoideae subfamily. 

This fleshy Agave plant species is native to North America, central Mexico, and southern Mexico.

Agave Salmiana growing in the landscape

The evergreen plant is widely distributed in the European states with Mediterranean climatic conditions such as Spain and South Africa. 

Some common names of Agave Salmiana are:

  • Giant Agave
  • Pulque Agave
  • Century Plant
  • Maguey de Pulque
  • Agave Quiotifera
  • Agave Tehuacanensis
  • Agave Atriovirens
  • Agave Lehmannii
  • Agave Atrovirens 

Agave Salmiana Care

Growth and Size

Agave salmiana is a large growing plant, hence the name “Giant Agave.” 

Under ideal growing conditions, the succulent heightens up to 6’ feet and spreads up to 12’ feet. 

When fully developed, the plant features large, copious dark green leaves with sharp, serrated margins. 

They are quite fleshy but flat. 

The unique foliage shares a striking resemblance with candelabra. 

Flowering and Fragrance

Like most agave species, agave salmiana var is considered to be “monocarpic.” 

This means the plant blooms only once, every 15 – 25 years. 

The evergreen succulent produces an upright flower stem, which is usually up to 13’ feet tall and bears lovely greenish-yellow flowers. 

The plant typically blooms in summer with flowers having a slightly strong spicy scent.

Light and Temperature

The maguey prefers partial sun or partial shade to enjoy a long, happy life. 

Exposure to the full sun affects the productivity of the succulent. 

The low-maintenance plant is tolerant to cold temperatures, usually between 18° and 25° degrees Fahrenheit (-8° and -4° C).

The USDA hardiness zone of the green giant is 9 to 11.

Watering and Feeding

For effective performance, Agave salmiana requires watering every 2 to 3 weeks in summer. 

In central Arizona gardens and deserts, the evergreen plant is considerably drought-tolerant. 

The well-formed century plant requires little to no fertilizer.

However, horticulturists recommend applications of at least ½ dose of 20-20-20 fertilizer to the young agave plant. 

Make sure to fertilize at the base of the plant only.

Soil and Transplanting

  • Agave salmiana is well-suitable for all types of soil, including sandy, loamy, and clay soil. 
  • However, the soil needs to be moist and well-drained. 
  • Suitable pH soils for the desert plant are acid, neutral, and alkaline.
  • The desert succulent is easy to move from one area to another during spring and summer. 
  • While transplanting, be careful of the sharp spikes along the edges of the leaves. 
  • Consider eye protection to prevent the sap from getting into the eyes. 
  • Make sure to transplant at the same depth as the current agave salmiana. 
  • Leave enough room to allow the succulent to grow full size.
  • After transplanting, place the plant in partial shade to protect it from harsh UV rays. 
  • For an extra layer of protection, cover it with a cloth. 
  • Once new growths appear, remove the cloth. 
  • Water just enough to make the soil wet.

Grooming and Maintenance

As stated earlier, agave salmiana is a low-maintenance plant. 

Light pruning is enough to improve the overall appearance of the ferox. 

Before pruning, make sure to sanitize the saw with a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol. 

This will remove all sorts of unwanted debris from the pruning tool.

Never apply fertilizer to a mature, fully-formed plant. 

The succulent plants only need a small amount of fertilizer when young and growing. 

Protect the plant from harsh winter wind or extreme summer heat. 

In times like these, bring the large succulent indoors.

The plant also produces many suckers in large colonies if not removed.

How to Propagate Giant Agave

Agave salmiana is easy and quick to propagate from cuttings and seeds. 

The best time to propagate the evergreen cacti is after flowering.  

Always take cuttings from the parent plant. 

Sanitize the knife with a bleach solution and made a cutting at a 45° degree angle. 

Root the cuttings and cover it with well-nourished soil.

In propagation from seeds, plant the seeds in a wide, shallow container of soil. 

Provide it with enough moisture and nutrients to encourage healthy growth. 

Avoid mixing soil with animal manure. 

Instead, consider inorganic ingredients, such as pumice or perlite.  

Overhead watering is encouraged to see new growths sprout quicker than usual.

Giant Agave Pests and Diseases

The agave snout weevil (also called the Sisal weevil) likes to feast on the agave salmiana species. 

Get rid of these large beetles is by using a specialized pesticide during fall or spring. 

If not treated in time, the snout weevil may lay eggs in the leaf rosettes.  

The cultivar Otto ex salm-dyck is also susceptible to phytophthora – a plant-damaging fungus, attacking the agaves with poorly-drained soil.

Agave Salmiana Uses

The sap often extracted from the inflorescence bud is used in the fermentation of an alcoholic drink – pulque. 

The flowering stems are sweet and juicy and therefore eaten like sugar cane. 

The leaves of the young architectural succulent are employed for the making of clothes and laces. 

The roots consist of saponins and are a good alternative to soap.

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