Variegated century plant for Desert Landscaping

Variegated century plant Desert Landscaping

Variegated century plant for desert landscaping. The Agave (Agave americana ‘Marginata). It is a plant that is suited for the desert Southwest.  Long stripped fronds that end with sharp needle-like points.  With yellow stripes on the edges of the fronds.

Why is it called the Century Plant?

In about its 25th or 30th year, It will produce a long beautiful spiky stalk about 40 ft. tall.  The stalk will also produce bright yellow/green pods.  See the image below.  The stalk and its pods will last about 6 weeks or so.  Once the stalk dies it will fall off and the plant will also die.

Some people think “it took 100 years to bloom” thus its common name. However, it will also produce numerous plants at the base after it dies.  You can remove them and plant them in your landscape or in containers.   It is native to the Sonoran Desert and thrives and sandy alkaline soils.

Watering too often will stress it out and the fronds will wrinkle up and die.  It should be watered about once per week during its first year after initial planting.


Variegated century plant Desert Landscape
The Stalks of the Agave or Century plant.

Variegated century plant for Desert Landscaping

There is also the Americana Century plant also called the Blue Agave. Mainly the same size but without the yellow stripe on its fronds.  A bluish-green color that will bloom in mid-June through July.

Variegated century plant Desert Landscape
Blue or Americana Agave

Where to place Century Plant

The Agave plant loves the full hot sun but can tolerate some shade.  Anything less than 6 hrs. of sun and it will have a hard time growing or looking good.  As mentioned before the stalk will shoot out about 40 ft. tall and when it dies and falls you will have some cleanup and maintenance to do. It might fall into the street, your neighbors’ yard, or worse on top of your vehicle!

Variegated century plant Desert Landscaping
Two Agave in the front entrance of this nice looking Southwestern home. Variegated century plant for Desert Landscaping.

Problems with this plant

Like most desert-type plants this one does not overwater. It will wrinkle up and die if the root system receives too much water.  Insects such as Mealybugs, soft scale, and the cactus longhorn beetle will attack this plant.  Spraying with an insecticide at the first signs of insects will kill these insects.  Organic alternatives are to use Soap based insecticides and Neem Oil for good organic insect spray.  From my experience, these products work well but oftentimes you will have to spray numerous times before they work.

Spraying with dormant oil or horticultural oil is also a good choice.

Diseases on the Century Plant

Anthracnose and crown rot are fungus-like diseases that will infect this plant.  These fungi come for spores that birds and other animals carry the spores.

Learn more about diseases and insects on plants. No matter where you live.

Copy of Information on the Variegated century plant

Common Name
Scientific NameUSDA ZoneWater UsageFlowerHeight Width
Variegated Century Plant
Agave americana ‘MarginataUSDA Zones – 9 – 11 LowNo Produces PlumeHeight - about 6-7 ft. tall, width about 4-5 ft.

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