In terms of landscaping and home gardening, agave plants are a showstopper. Simply put, when you have one of these succulents in a pot or corner plot, and it starts to show its spiky leaves, everyone notices it. Even a small agave plant that is no bigger than two feet, even with its flower spike, will capture the attention of a crowd.

Some of the bigger varieties of agave will grow to have spikes 30 feet tall, and their thorn-lined leaves will stretch out to a plant width of 10 feet. As you plan out your garden or consider the use of agave plants for a landscaping project, prepare to find the right variety of agave plant based on how big and tall agave plants grow. Here is a guide to get you started.

How Big and Tall do Agave Plants Grow?

The range of growth on the agave genus of plants is anywhere from a foot and a half, which is the same as 20 inches or 50 centimeters, up to seven feet or 84 inches (or 214 centimeters). Size typically determines how big and tall an agave plant will grow. For example, the majority of dwarf agave species and small potted agave plants will only grow to be about a foot tall. These varieties also grow for a shorter amount of time, for only a year, before they bloom in their first summer. The plant then dies, meaning the maximum it will grow will be a foot.

The bigger and taller agave plants tend to grow best outdoors where they can receive optimal sunlight, shade, and watering conditions. Here is where you see the large Agave ‘Blue Glow’ or ‘Blue Glow Agave’ that grows to be an average of one to two feet in height and three feet wide in diameter. There is also the Ferocious Giant Agave, which, as its name suggests, is one of the biggest agave plants in the genus. A Ferocious Giant Agave or agave salmiana ferox will grow to have leaves that are 14 inches wide and rosettes or hearts that are 11 and a half feet in diameter.

The stalks are also 30 feet tall on these mature succulents, which are also known as Ferocious Pulque Agave. This agave plant is famous in Mexico for another reason; it is used to produce an alcoholic beverage called pulque. Unique to the Central Mexican states, pulque is a fermented, thick pulpy liquid that has to be chewed more than swallowed. It also gets you intoxicated and is a popular homemade alcoholic beverage drunk at dinner tables.

American Century Agave or agave americana is a popular kind of agave plant. This variety of agave grows a stalk that is 15 feet in height, while the full leaves grow up to be six feet in height at most. The plant grows to be about 10 feet wide. An agave plant at this size will live to be 10 to 30 years old, which doesn’t quite make the century mark for its namesake. However, thanks to the lifespan, the succulent has ample time to grow and develop its larger stature.

How Quickly Do Agaves Grow?

Agave plants do not grow quickly in general, but some varieties of agave plants will grow faster than others. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the agave plant, the faster it will grow. This applies to the dwarf species of agave plants, which will mature in a pot within a year. These plants do grow faster than the larger agave plants, such as the Foxtail Agave or Agave Attentuata. The bigger plants that are expected to grow outdoors take up to 30 years to mature. Compare this to the 12 month lifespan of the smaller agave plants, and you quickly see the difference here.

The reason why some agaves grow faster than others is based on the flowering cycle. An agave plant will flower in the summer months, and smaller agave plants that are grown indoors in a pot may be ready to flower within the first 12 to 18 months after it is planted. This depends on how often you fertilize the plant, and if the plant receives artificial light that stimulates growth and development.

Humans are less likely to impart their thumbprint onto the growing cycle of outdoors agave plants that are grown in the ground. As a result, these plants will grow slower and more deliberately, lasting longer and waiting until later to flower and die off.

Therefore, an agave plant will grow quickly and mature within a year in a pot and if from a smaller variety of agave plants. A larger, outdoor agave plant that has a lifespan of 30 years, such as the American Century Agave, is going to grow slower.

Do Agave Plants Do Well in Pots?

Generally, agave plants that are smaller in size, ranging from one to two feet in height, will do well in a pot. These plants can survive indoors as well, given they are provided with optimal growing mediums and feeding conditions. However, larger agave plants that outgrow their pots do not do well indoors and may suffer from being root bound or having a lack of sunlight. In addition, as your agave plant grows out of the pot it is currently in, you will need to transplant the plant to a larger-sized pot.

If you are transplanting a succulent of any size in a pot, there is a risk of damaging the roots of the plant in transit. There are ways to minimize risk to the root system, which will ensure the plant will survive the transplant. This includes waiting to transplant the agave in the winter time when the plant is dormant (agave plants bloom in summer months).

If you must transplant an agave plant during the warmer months when it is actively producing agave sap, wear gloves and try to avoid breaking the leaves. Also, transplant the agave plant when the soil is dry in the pot, and then water generously after the transplant is complete to help the agave plant rejuvenate its root system.

Is Agave a Slow-Growing Plant?

Agave is a slow-growing plant in comparison to other flowering species of plants, yes. In addition, it is a monocot that produces only a single flower in its lifetime. When the flower dies, the plant itself dies, leaving offshoots at the roots, which can be transplanted immediately to grow new agave plants. As a monocot, agave produces monocarpic rosettes that could be considered multi-annuals. The slow-growing agave plant generates tiny clusters of rosettes in a variety of colors based on the type of agave plant.

The rosettes only blossom one time in the lifespan of the agave plant, no matter what kind of agave plant. The slow-growing plant uses its entire lifetime of energy to make a one-time bouquet of flowers. As a result of this showcase, the plant then stops making energy as the leaves end the photosynthesis process that creates chlorophyll. By this time, the stalk and heart of the agave, which resembles a pineapple once the leaves are removed, are best harvested and eaten raw or cooked.

The agave plant also produces sap that can be boiled and used as agave syrup, but should be avoided raw as it causes a rash on the skin upon contact. While the agave plant can take up to 30 years to grow and produce a single flowering stalk, by the time this happens, the plant and its heart are generating many other edible and usable materials. This includes the fiber in the stalk and leaves of the plant.

The leaves are also edible, by the way. Also, while it may be slow to grow, the agave plants are capable of regenerating upon death thanks to the production of thousands of seeds along with dozens of shoots in the crown root system. These offshoots can easily be propagated and transplanted to start growing another agave plant in a pot or outdoors.

How Long Do Agave Plants Live?

The typical time frame for how long agave plants live depends on the size and environment, which determine the plant’s independent growing conditions. The short answer is one to 30 years, depending on the variety. An easy way to determine how long an agave plant will grow is by looking at the estimated maximum height and width of the plant. The shorter and smaller the agave plant, the shorter the plant’s lifespan. The bigger and taller the agave plant, the longer the plant will live in general.

If the agave plant suffers from too much sunlight or a lack of sunlight, then it will not live as long. Optimal sunlight is key to the growth rate and success of an agave plant, which comes from the sun-loving states of the Southeastern US, as well as Mexico and South America. The other reason why some agave plants live longer than others has to do with watering.

If you over water an agave plant, the leaves will burst and crown rot will consume the heart of the plant, killing it quickly. If you forget to water this succulent, you might find the agave plant to have shriveled tips on its yellowing and curling leaves. This will soon kill the plant as well.

Providing the agave plant with fertilizer and using herbicides to kill off pests will also help an agave plant live longer. All plants need some plant food in the form of fertilizer or compost, and a commercial fertilizer for succulents and cacti is ideally suited for agave plants. If used consistently, you will see massive gains and consistent growth with your agave plants. This will also help your agave plants grow to their maximum size and lifespan.

Herbicides along with fungicides and insecticides ensure your agave plant will have a longer life as well. These solutions are often necessary when dealing with pests, like the agave snout weevils that are endemic to the agave plant growing regions.

The last thing you want to happen is for an infestation of these black beetles to take place inside the heart and stalk of your beloved agave plant that has been waiting for 13 long years for this very moment when it is about to flower. For a home gardener, such an event is spectacular to witness—and the very reason why we often garden—and you can’t let a beetle mess up all that fun.

Helping your agave plants live to be a ripe, old age when they can flower in their full blossoming glory is the ultimate in gardening excitement. Agave flowers and their big and tall sizes of six to 10 feet with flowering stalks 30 feet in height are awe-inspiring to see. Provide your agave with the best growing conditions if you want to see it live to be around for many decades.

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.