Native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and southern parts of North America, agave plants are very drought-tolerant. If you are growing agave in your garden or in indoor pots, you may be wondering about how much sun these plants need and if they can grow in the shade. 

With more than 270 species of agave, surely not every agave plant is exactly alike. The best care practices and tips vary among the species because some agaves are more shade-tolerant than others. 

So which agaves grow best in shade and how much sun do agaves need?  

How Much Sun Do Agave Plants Need?

In general, most agave plants like to be in full sun as this mimics their natural environment. To ensure that your sun-loving agaves thrive, they should get at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. 

Ensure your agave doesn’t suffer from leaf burn or sunscald when the sun is hot and the temperature is too high, like during a heatwave or abnormally hot summer. 

If you live in an area that is warm with minimum daytime temperatures of 80℉ and it’s a minimum of 60℉ during the night, ensure young agaves get partial shade. 

The general rule is that agave can handle more shade the hotter the climate. So you can plant the agave near a tree like a palm that doesn’t have dense foliage. This will ensure your agave gets the right combination of sunlight and shade.  

Types of Sun-Loving Agave Plants 

There are a variety of agaves that need more sun in comparison to shade. These sun-loving agaves that need full to partial sun exposure are: 

  • Agave blue grow (a hybrid of Agave ocahui and Agave attenuata) 
  • Agave cream spike (Agave applanata) 
  • Butterfly agave (Agave Kissho Kan) 
  • Agave montana (Mountain agave) 
  • Agave nickelsiae (King of the agaves)

The agave plants that need full sun exposure are: 

  • American agave (Agave Americana) 
  • Blue agave (Agave tequilana, Weber’s blue agave, or tequila agave) 
  • Agave colorata (Mescal Ceniza)
  • Artichoke agave (Agave parryi var huachucensis) 
  • Artichoke agave, Parry’s agave, or mescal agave (Agave parryi var truncata)  
  • Shaw’s agave (Agave shawii) 
  • Narrow leaf century plant (Agave striata) 
  • Queen Victoria century plant (Agave victoriae-reginae) 
  • Bigthorn agave (Agave macroacantha) 

How Much Shade Do Agaves Need? 

Some agave plants need more shade than others. There are a few agave species that do well in more shade than sun: 

Agave Attenuata (Fox Tail) 

Agave attenuata, also called fox tail, swan’s neck agave, or lion’s tail because of the curved stem, is commonly found in Southern California. This agave species is easy to grow, so they are beginner-friendly. 

Fox tail agave likes shade and sun, and some gardeners have reported that this agave can grow well in shade. This agave is also quite tolerant to being under or overwatered but don’t take this as a challenge. 

Agave Bracteosa (Spider Agave)

Spider agave, also sometimes called squid agave or octopus agave, thrives in full sun and bright shade. The agave with its long, flowing, twisting leaves grows to be quite compact, so it is perfect for rock gardens, backyards, and containers. In an indoor setting, this agave can be placed near northern or eastern-facing windows.  

Spider agave forms a fountain of leaves, and the plant only needs to be watered occasionally once it’s mature. 

Agave Celsii (Agave Mitis) 

Native to Mexico, the Agave celsii has blue-green leaves that grow upward. This clumping agave plant prefers humidity and grows well in light shade or full sun.  

Smooth Agave (Agave Desmettiana Variegata) 

Smooth agave is a small agave plant that grows arching dark blue-green or yellow-green leaves, depending on the variety. This agave thrives in shade and not full sun exposure, especially in very hot climates. 

Do Agave Plants Grow Indoors?

Agaves make excellent houseplants because they don’t need a lot of maintenance. This makes this a very beginner-friendly plant too.

Agave plants can be planted in containers and pots and grown indoors. Most agaves aren’t very winter or frost-tolerant, so if these plants are potted, it is best to move them indoors so they can survive the colder months. 

It is recommended to only pot smaller varieties of agave. If you plant agaves that grow to be quite big, like the blue agave or American agave, you’ll find that they outgrow the container and need to be transplanted quite often. 

Planting spineless agaves in pots is also easier when it comes to repotting. 

That can be a challenge in itself. It isn’t always the easiest to report large plants, and especially not ones that have spiny tips that poke you to no end while handling them. 

Agave Indoor Care 

In terms of sun and shade, agave plants prefer bright light locations where they can soak up sunlight, except for those varieties that do well in more shade. So place the sun-loving agaves near south or west-facing windows and rotate the pot to ensure all sides of the agave get equal sun and shade to grow evenly. 

The ideal indoor temperature for most agave species is 65℉ to 80℉. Ensure you don’t switch on the AC in rooms where your agave grows as cold drafts aren’t suitable for these plants. 

Watering these plants will be the same as if agaves are planted outside. Only water when the top two inches of the potting soil is completely dry. You may find that you only need to water the agave every week or every other week during summer during the plant’s active growing season. During winter, fall, and spring, you may need to water the agave only once a month; however, to be sure, always check the potting mix. 

Agaves need well-draining soil and a well-draining pot. The clay or ceramic container should also be bigger than the root spread; this gives the plant a chance to grow before you need to repot. Luckily, agaves are slow-growing plants.    

Agave Plants You Can Grow Indoors 

While you can grow most types of agave plants indoors, here are the best ones: 

  • Spider agave 
  • Butterfly agave 
  • Artichoke agave (Agave parryi var huachucensis) 
  • Thread agave (Agave filifera) 
  • Twinflowered agave (Agave geminiflora) 
  • Verschafflet agave (Agave potatorum) 
  • Blue grow agave 
  • Octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana) 
  • Fox tail agave 
  • Century plant or American agave 
  • Agave victoriae-reginae 
  • Santa Cruz striped agave, smallflower century plant, or small-flower agave (Agave parviflora) 

A potted fox tail agave prefers a south or west-facing window, while the octopus agave likes full morning sun and afternoon shade

Author

My name is Dan and I am the owner of this blog. I have been tending to the garden ever since my parents moved to a home with a large garden when I was a teenager. Gardening takes time and patience. Let me show you the way to a beautiful backyard.