University of Florida

Agave lopantha

Agave lophantha is a succulent perennial plant that is winter-hardy and easy to care for. This plant can be used in landscapes or grown in containers.

Commonly mistaken for cacti or aloe plants, Agave is a separate genus with very distinct features. Native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, there are over 200 species of Agave plants.

Characteristics

Agave lophantha, also known as thorncrest century plant, grows very slowly to about 2 feet in diameter and up to 2 to 3 feet tall.

In partially shaded areas, this plant can be used as a focal point in a desert garden, or in groups as a barrier. The saw-like flat leaves grow from a dense rosette base and spiral outwards.

The foliage varies in color depending on the cultivar. Agave lophantha 'quadricolor' has dark green leaves, with yellow edges and a pale green strip down the middle; the leaves are also accented with dark red teeth lining the sides. 

Other cultivars also have dark green leaves with a lighter colored stripe pattern. The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association chose the center stripe agave (Agave lophantha 'Splendida') as a Florida Garden Select Plant for 2013. This variety has dark green rosettes highlighted with a creamy-gold center stripe down each leaf that brightens in spring and early summer.

It takes several years for this plant to bloom, and has greenish yellow flowers on a stalk which can reach 12 feet tall. As with most Agaves, each plant only flowers once and then dies soon afterwards. However, numerous “pups” are produced around the base which will continue to grow.

Care and Maintenance

Since Agave lophantha is a desert plant, it has adapted to very hot weather, but can also tolerate temperatures as low as 11°F. 

These plants are susceptible to root rot due to overwatering, so water carefully—too much moisture will kill them. Only water when the soil completely dries out. They require well-draining soil and prefer a sandy cactus soil mix.

Agaves grow well without fertilizer, but can be fed a slow release fertilizer to promote a full, rich look. Agave lophantha thrives in direct sunlight, but will tolerate partial shade as well.

Thorns of this plant are very sharp and should be avoided when tending to it. Requiring little attention, Agave lophantha will be a unique and strong accent to your garden or patio.

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