Sunday, April 27, 2008

Century Plant

A few years ago, our local newspaper published an interesting article on a locally blooming Century Plant. The Saint and I found the article so interesting that we had to drive by and check it out. Of course, with such a rarity, I had my camera with me.

Even though this plant appears to be a Cactus, Wikipedia tells me it is a Agave which are closely related to the Iris and Amaryllis families. The Yucca plant is also a Agave.

I find it difficult to believe they are not in the Cactus family because they appear so similar to them. The base is clumped with long leaves that end in a point. Each long leaf contain spines along the edge. I can recall my grandmother having a similar plant in a pot in the kitchen window. We called it a cactus but I wonder if it was a small Century Plant?

The Century Plant only blooms once in its
lifespan. The blooms consist of clumps of yellow tubular flowers. The bloom stalk shoots way up high into the sky at such a fast rate, that it uses all the plants energy. The plant then dies.

The long stalk stands up as if a ships mast standing tall into the sky. I cannot help but think of the Fairy Tale, Jack and the Bean Stalk! Hum, I wonder if a Century Plant was the writers inspiration?

Legend says it takes 100 years for one to bloom, hence the name Century Plant. In reality, the plant only has a life span of about 25 years. As a gardener, waiting 25 years for a plant to bloom can seem like a Century!

Even though this plant dies once bloomed, suckers produced at the base of the stalk form new plants.

This Century Plant is located on one of the routes we travel to town so we see it often. These pictures were snapped on June 30, 2005 but to this day, the dead stalk is still standing tall.

As you can see, this yard contains more then one Century Plant.

I have since, spotted Century Plants in other yards in the older section of town. I wonder if they were at one time, the "IN" plant for the town...

Longwood Gardens in PA. (Click here) Century Plant 2007 - Longwood Gardens documented a great series of pictures of a Century Plant blooming in their garden. It is amazing how fast the stalk grew! It is worth viewing.

**I posted a topic with "Pet People" about the progress of our Bluebird family. If anyone is interested, Click on this sight below and then click the topic title "I am a new Mommy" (beside) Skeeterkitty... Yes, I am a Tuxedo Cat!


  1. Hi Tina, I enjoyed your story about the local agave. The agaves are quite popular again where they are hardy due to their drought resistance. I didn't know they were hardy where you live. I have tried several times to grow them with no success. Pam at Digging has some wonderful specimens at her place. There are many different kinds, small and large. A good source for them is Yucca Do Nursery in Texas. I have been there and seen these plants sited perfectly and grown to perfection. Google them to get their website.

  2. I had no idea Century plants were related to amarylis and irises. I recently saw one in a big box and knew you were posting about this so I considered getting it. Do you think it would grow here in the ground? I could put it out there by my yuccas. It is a beautiful flower and to be still standing three years later! Is it still yellow?

    Frances, I saw some of Pam's pics because didn't you all visit her garden? I am sure she has lovely specimans in her garden. Drought tolerance is very good now a days.

  3. I meant to say, you all go over and check Skeeter's post out on the bluebirds. She has awesome photos. Thanks for posting the link Skeeter! I am heading there next. I don't have an account so I can't comment though for you I might consider getting an account.

  4. Skeeter-You've been a busy busy new mom! You all go see those lovely pics and read Skeeter's story on Pet People. Good pics for the garden...

  5. One last thing, the link worked perfectly and it was easy to access. Sorry the other thing didn't work out. I am going to be playing with it soon so maybe I can get it and let you know. Seems kind of hard? We'll see. ciao

  6. A very interesting plant Skeeter! 25 years for a plant to bloom seems like a very long time. You would really have to appreciate the foliage you have until then.

  7. Wow! How cool is that! Looks like a rare species of a tree, big, very big.

  8. I have read about the Century Plant but have never seen one. Neat story and plant.

  9. I am glad y'all enjoyed the Posting. I had never heard of the Century Plant either until reading the article in the paper. I notice them all over town in the older areas.

    Tina, the stalk is dead as dead can be with no blooms but still standing tall! I have no idea why it is still standing but I can only assume, it is one strong stalk! I am not sure they would grow in TN but you never know. I did not know Yucca could grow up there!

    I do enjoy my birds! The new camera allows me some great pictures with the zoom lens! Today the mommy and daddy bluebird are taking the worms high into the trees so the babies are out of the house and in the big world now. I will take the binoculars and watch were they fly with the worms and try to get a count on baby heads! Soon the little blue spotted babies will be at the worm feeder. They are so cute...

  10. So sorry, Skeeter, I didn't look at the byline and thought it was Tina. My bad. There are so many different agaves, some and hardier than others. If you can find one with a tag and look up the name to see what the zone hardiness is, that might be a place to start. I should have put mine in the ground, not a pot, but it looked so pretty in the pot last summer, it didn't make it.

  11. Frances, I know Skeeter will come on here and respond, but I wanted to say it is no problem! It is easy to miss bylines when you get used to something. She has Sundays on here and is a big help. Others will be posting as we go along too. You convinced me last weekend that a break is good and she and I worked this out. It is nice to take a break plus I like her posting, but like you, I am still reading. Are these plants hardy here do you think?

  12. Hi Tina, what a good idea to have some help with the posts. She does a great job too. There may be some types that are hardy here at my place, with the right drainage and some south facing wall protection, we are pushing it though.

  13. Thanks for the kind words! I did not think twice about it Frances! LOL... Tina works so hard at keeping a posting daily that I felt she needed a day off to be with Mr. Fix it and the Jimster on Sundays... Tina and I are similar in many ways, like, we enjoy talking so this is a natural for me. I truly enjoy chatting with everyone. Now, my posts will not be so full of information as Tina is the professional here and not me! I will touch on the hobbyist side of gardening…

    What is up with Word Verification? Really difficult to make out the letters lately...

  14. My mom has a friend who has a century plant, they live in Florida, and she drove down there just to see it bloom. It was about 40 years old and everyone was so excited because it was finally blooming.

  15. Great post on the century plant. I had seen pics of one--may be the same one where they had to take the top of building off. Sad tho that the plant dies. Does it completely die to the point that it has to be removed?

    Really great for you to step in Skeeter & help. I know nothing about it but I realize it is hard work to come up with a subject every day. I really learn a lot on here & really enjoy it.

    I agree about the word verification. Some times I have to do it 3 times.

    Took the kiddies Sat. on monthly journey. This time it was to High Springs for "Pioneer Day". Too much walking for this ole' gal, but endured for kiddies. Boy what a reaction when they did the "gunfight" part. 2 got shot in front of us---Anthony looked round & asked, "Papa are they really dead". Boy, what a hoot. Wouldn't miss that for all the tea in China.
    What would have been funny is if he had went out & poked the guy. I think all would have laughed their heads off. It was educational as well as they told how High Springs got started. I believe he said that was 7 generations ago. They had to fight the Indians also.

    Tina, will send you a couple pics when I get them on my puter.

    I truly hope all are having a great weekend. Back to garden tomorrow. Lots more to do.

  16. Yup I agree with that darn word thingy. When it goes the first time it makes me so darn happy. But that does not happen as often as 2 or 3 times. I even put my magnifying glasses on it to try and get it right.

    Glad you had a good time with the boys, Lola. With all you have gone thru lately and all the work you have done, you sure were due a great day.

    Lola for days that take a lotta walking you should get a wheelchair. I have one and the kids love to push it. Or they did when little, now I think they just do it so I am able to go with them.
    Then there are the reaal little ones that like to ride on "Mimi's"
    lap. If we go where we are taking
    coolers, food, bathing suits, towels, ect we
    cart all the stuff in on the chair.

  17. BTW....Doctors will write a prescription for a wheelchair and then insurance (private or medicare) will pay for it.

  18. Yah, what's with the letters for the word verification? Afew of them have slanted together so bad I couldn't tell if it was i's or l's or part of another letter. Last week it was x ing itself out, I didn't discover it until I was done writing. Found I could preview to get one up but I lost my first post.
    It just occurred to me.....I'm reminded of who-ville when I look at this plant. Too bad they didn't grow up here, I think most everyone would have one.

  19. Jillybean, the research I did says the Century Plant only lives for about 25 years but the one in the picture still looks the same to me at the base of the plant! I forgot to tell y'all, there is a second one that bloomed soon after the first one! Two in the same yard! Both plants still look alive to me except for the dead looking stalks.

    Lola, It does not appear that the base of the plant is dead and I am not sure why the plant owners have not removed the dead stalks but I do recall the article in the paper saying that they do not do anything to the plant. They just leave it to nature…

    Pioneer Days sounds like so much fun. I bet the kids did get a kick out of that and I am sure they learned a thing or two also. We went to a similar event when in Colorado called West Days. They reenacted Gun fight at the O K Corral… Was very entertaining.

    Jean, I am with you. Get a mobile chair. My parents have a hard time getting around. My dad has had both hips replaced and I think he would be able to do so much more if he would get one of those Electric Mobile Chairs. He passes on so many things due to walking. It was tough on him when he visited us in Germany due to all the stair climbing but he did well and did not complain too much. There is no way he could do that today…

    Dawn, When you say Who’ville do you mean like the Dr Seuss book? I call the Saint the Grinch at Christmas due to his lack of excitement! LOL…

    I’ve been watching old movies on Turner Classic today. Just finished with a good Bio on Glenn Miller Band. Good music throughout the entire movie! Sad ending though with his plane going down while he was entertaining the soldiers in England…

  20. Hi all! Busy day for me in the garden. I am almost done planting and then will have to only weed. I just have a few zinnias and then seeds of marigolds, cosmos, cukes and gourds. Yahoo! Then watch it grow, oh yeah, and weed too.

    I took off the word verification so we'll see how it goes. It is very likely I will have to put it back on because maybe once you are on a spam list you stay? We'll see. I will be reporting it all though and I hope we can stay off. But for now, gotta houseclean since it is raining finally! That will finally put out the last of the embers. What a great spring we have had!

  21. Hi everyone --interesting plant. Not sure I would want a plant that took so long to bloom, lol. Another busy day today --got a few stray trees out of the yard so mama can plant them up in her yard. These little trees pop up all over my yard and mama is more than happy to take them to her place to replant. Tina --I had to go solo to the Ball --hubby got called into work -sigh:( But, I had a very handsome dance partner --about 4 ft. 6 in and really cute too:0) hahaha Did the mother/son dance with boy number 2. Thank goodness mama came to watch the small two --got them off to bed for me. Today was the usual busy church day followed by a weeding session in the backyard --not like you can tell --hahahaha. We took out a wagon full of weeds --that big garden wagon we got a Lowes. The two older boys helped --hey _I had to wear a dress and heels to there Ball, right?? So, it was only fair to drag them out to help me:0) Such a nice mom --I tell you:) Must chase the two big boys to bed --have a great day tomorrow. It should be easy to pull weeds if this rain keeps up:)

  22. Tina, come on down and help me as I still have tons to do... LOL... I am still getting a grip on the weeds and will have to weed whack the woods as those are way too big for weed killer to work. I hate using weed killer but must in the spring because we have way too many weeds...

    Anonymous, your date sounds handsome. Yep, only fair if mom has to do a deed, they have to do a deed. How does that song go, Dirty Deeds and they Done Dirt Cheap... LOL...

    Is your wagon that large one with mesh looking sides? I saw those a while back and thought they looked like some nice sturdy wagons. I have my little red wagon that hooks up to my Little Red Rider (mower) we gave it a work out today with limb removal. Four loads before the rain stopped us. I was mad at the Saint because he was putt putting back to the shed on the mower and she was getting all wet. I just gave her a bath two days ago and she shines and now he wants to go and mess her up.. I fuss at him for not putting her into high gear… Darn him...LOL

    We did not get measurable rain but just enough to mess up yard plans. The break was good on my body though. Tomorrow is another day… Good Night all…

  23. That's an interesting plant. Once again it's one I've never seen. No surprise, there aren't many cacti type plants up in my neck of the woods for some odd reason. Wonder why that is....

  24. Anonymous, Glad you got your weeding done and I know that ball was PRICELESS. Glad the two little ones had such a great time with grandma.

    Skeeter, I so agree, the break is needed. Very light day for me today and I am hoping for more rain but I don't think it is happening. Sometimes you need weedkiller, especially for that dreaded honeysuckle and poison ivy.

    Cinj, I bet there is no cactus growing in Wisconsin. Too cold maybe? :)

  25. Skeeter, I checked out Longwood Gardens and that was a fascinating group of pics! To grow 35 feet tall! The gardener sure enjoyed it growing-and so fast!

  26. Tina, I was amazed as to how quickly the stalk grew! They did a great job of documenting it for others to enjoy...

    Cinj, Does Yucca grow up there?