Agave Tequilana: How To Grow and Plant Care

Native to Mexico, the Agave tequilana, the blue agave, or the Weber’s Blue Agave is a striking succulent which comes from the Asparagus plant family.

You can grow it as a houseplant in colder climates, or if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm, you can use it as an architectural plant in your own garden. 

Just be aware that if you do live somewhere warm, the plant can flower, and this flower spike can be as large as 30 feet tall, so plan accordingly!

Here’s everything you need to know about the tequila agave, including its care requirements, its lifespan, and how to propagate it.

At a Glance: What You Should Know About a Blue Agave

You can recognize a tequila agave pretty easily, from its pointed, spiny leaves which make up a large rosette. This foliage has a silvery blue sheen, and the spines can be the same color as the foliage, or they can be red.

You might also be familiar with tequila, which is distilled only from the ‘Weber Azul’ cultivar of Agave tequilana, and only from plants which are at least seven years old. 

The heart of the plant is roasted, and the now-sugary sap is fermented into tequila. The process is long and complicated, so it’s best left to the professionals.

Agaves are also known as century plants, as they can take 50 years or more to flower. While this doesn’t sound like a good thing, it’s worth pointing out that the plant dies once it flowers, so it is largely grown for its foliage rather than its rare flowers.

A tequila agave can grow as tall and as wide as 5 feet, making it perfect for filling in the gaps in your garden. 

It has the advantage of not needing a lot of care, and as long as you get the growing conditions right, you can leave it to fend for itself, mostly. 

It’s a perfect plant for a garden that gets long periods of drought, or someone who travels a lot.

You can also grow it indoors, if you prefer. 

How to Grow a Tequila Agave

Sunlight & Position

Sunlight is the biggest requirement for an agave. A tequila agave needs well-draining soil, in a position of full sunlight. 

If you’re growing it indoors, you may need to get a grow lamp if the light in your house isn’t particularly bright to keep the plant from growing leggy.

Agaves love sunlight. The more you can give them, the better they will thrive. While they will withstand some colder temperatures, keep them out of exposed areas if possible, especially if you’re growing them indoors.

When you are trying to decide where to grow your agave, keep in mind that these leaves have spines, and each leaf ends in a point. 

This can limit where you want to put it, as you don’t want to plant it somewhere that gets heavy traffic, otherwise you’ll get attacked! Try to put it in the middle of a border, or the back of a very sunny bed. You can even use it as a deterrent.

This is something you should keep in mind while growing an agave indoors, too. Make sure you place it somewhere sunny, but somewhere that you won’t come into contact with the spines. 

It’s not only unpleasant to be scratched by an agave, but any wounds will need to be treated with antiseptic.

When Should You Water a Tequila Agave?

Very rarely. As a succulent, the agave stores its water reserves in its leaves, so you’ll notice that you won’t have to water this plant very often. 

In winter, reduce watering to next to nothing, and once spring comes, you can water it once every few weeks, depending on how hot the surrounding area is.

How to Propagate a Blue Agave

Blue agaves readily produce plantlets at the base, which are very easy to separate from the parent plant. 

Give them a few weeks in order to establish some good roots, and then gently divide it, and pot it in its own pot. Just make sure you wear gloves!

You can also take cuttings if you prefer. Select the largest leaf possible, as the new plant will use its stores of nutrients to grow roots and new foliage. Again, make sure you wear gloves, as the sap is highly toxic.

Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut it from the rest of the plant, and set it somewhere dry to callus over for a few days. This will make sure that when you water it, it won’t drown.

Place it on top of barely moist compost, somewhere in partial light, and you may see growth within 6 weeks or so. Leaf propagation doesn’t always take with succulents, so it is best to take more than one cutting at a time.

You can also grow them from seed if you prefer, but this is a lengthy process, as the seeds can be difficult to germinate.

Frequently Asked Questions: The Tequila Agave

Is a Tequila Agave Poisonous?

Yes. In their raw form, the agave leaves contain sap which is very toxic. This applies to both animals and humans, so be very careful. Simply brushing against the plant causes contact dermatitis, which is nasty enough.

If you manage to get the sap on your skin, it will burn and blister, so avoid this at all costs. 

Ingesting any part of the plant will cause swelling, and may make it very difficult to breathe. If you suspect someone or a pet has ingested part of the plant, get them medical attention immediately.

How Long does a Blue Agave Live?

A blue agave will live anywhere between 8 and 14 years on average, though it may survive much longer, or much less than this. It depends on the individual plant and the care it receives, as well as its individual genetics.

Unfortunately, chopping off a flower stalk will not extend the life of the plant. It is dying anyway, so you might as well enjoy its swan-song in flower form. 

Is a Blue Agave Suitable for Gardens with Pets or Children?

Well, if you take into account that the blue agave is highly toxic, as a rule, it isn’t suitable for gardens which have pets or children as regular visitors. 

While you can minimize the risk as much as possible, you cannot eliminate the possibility of the plant causing harm or being eaten, so it’s best to choose an architectural plant which is less toxic.

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