Agave vilmoriniana (a-GAH-vee vil-mor-in-ee-AY-nuh) is a succulent evergreen perennial agave plant native to Mexico.
This succulent is a member of the Asparagaceae a family. It is also known as Agave mayoensis.
Most homeowners call the plant by its common name the Octopus Agave because its gray narrow green, long, slender leaves arch in a way to look like an octopus tentacles.
Agave Vilmoriniana Octopus Care
Size & Growth
Vilmoriniana octopus Agave is an unusual looking succulent with rosettes growing to three or four feet high and five or six feet wide.
Vilmoriniana is one of the ‘friendlier’ Agaves, having fine, soft serrations or spines along the leaf margins and a soft terminal spine.
Flower Color & Fragrance
These monocarpic plants produce one spectacular flower spike in their lifetime.
A mature plant (10 years old or older) produces a ten to twenty-foot flower stalk covered in attractive, fragrant golden-yellow flowers.
The blossoms are extremely attractive to hummingbirds.
It takes an entire season for the spike to grow to its maximum height, blossom and then topples.
Light & Temperature
These desert agave plants appreciate a full sun setting but can also do well in partial sun.
The “Octopus” is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9-11.
Water Needs & Feeding
Although the plant is drought tolerant, water regularly while the plant is young and becoming established.
Like the Century plant, once established, allow the soil to dry completely and then water deeply during the growing season (spring through summer).
Do not water at all during the winter.
Fertilizing is not recommended as it might spur blooming, which would kill the plant.
Octopus Agaves grow without extra irrigation is the desert areas of Southern Arizona.
Soil & Transplanting
The best soil for this succulent provides good drainage, is sandy or gravelly.
A substrate combination made up of equal parts compost, garden soil or potting mix combined with sharp sand, pumice or gravel is ideal.
Grooming & Maintenance
This low maintenance plant type is mostly a “set-it-and-forget-it” choice.
Trim off withered or damaged leaves as needed. Otherwise, maintenance is fairly nonexistent.
Another smaller Agave you may like – Agave Bracteosa (Squid Agave)
How To Propagate Octopus Agave
Vilmoriniana agave may be grown from seeds or from plantlets that offset from the flower spike.
When the plant finishes blooming, each blossom transitions into a tiny bulbul or plantlet.
To propagate, collect the bulbils when the blooming period has completed.
Don’t do this right away. Wait until each tiny plant has formed two sets of leaves and then harvest them.
Alternately, if you have the space and a conducive climate, leave all or some of them in place and allow them to simply grow naturally along the decaying stalk.
You could also simply plant them around your outdoor garden setting.
If you’re going to harvest the bulbils, it’s best to wait until they are easily removed from the stalk.
If you encounter resistance, give them a little more time.
It is possible to cut them free using a very sharp blade.
However, if you do this you’ll need to leave them in the open air for a few days to heal and callous over before planting them in soil.
Use a very light, dry potting medium consisting of equal parts of a lightweight potting mix that contains coarse sand and pumice but no peat moss.
Alternately, you can use pumice on its own or purchase a commercial succulent or cactus potting mix.
Start the plantlets in their own tiny individual pots or in a seedling flat.
Insert them into the rooting substrate just enough to prevent them from falling over.
Give them a thorough watering and set them in an area with plenty of indirect sunlight and stays consistently warm.
Check the surface of the soil frequently.
When it is dry, give the young plants another thorough watering.
Your plant should have begun to set roots after a couple of weeks.
Agave Pest or Disease Problems
These hardy, large types of succulents have little or no trouble with diseases.
Like most succulents, they can be subject to scale insect infestation if cared for improperly.
Agave snout weevils may also pose a threat.
Is The Agave Octopus Considered Toxic or Poisonous To People, Kids, Pets?
Vilmoriniana is deer resistant.
The sap can be irritating to sensitive skin. It is best to plant this excellent accent plant off the beaten track.
Wear gloves, goggles and long sleeves when handling the plant.
Is This Agave Considered Invasive?
Although this Agave species does produce hundreds of bulbils when it flowers, growing these succulents successfully is rather challenging.
It is NOT an invasive plant.
Uses For Vilmoriniana Octopus
This very dramatic drought tolerant plant makes a wonderful specimen plant or a focal point for a sunny border.
It can also be used as a very large handsome container plant.
This hardy succulent does well in coastal gardens and can also prosper in partially shaded inland gardens.
Every xeriscape garden in the Southwest should several of them.
Vilmoriniana is also an excellent choice for fire-prone areas (fire escaping) as it is considered “firewise” or “fire smart“.