The Agave Americana is commonly known as the Century plant and the American aloe. The Century plant does not have a stem. The leaves grow to six feet long and ten centimeters wide, and have sharp spines on the ends and margins. The spines can become more than an inch long. The plant naturally grows in the desert regions of Mexico.
The Agave Americana does best in a sandy, well-drained soil and on the slightly acidic side. This is a desert plant and is known as drought tolerant. It is only necessary to water the plant during the summer months. The plant prefers full sun and can grow in USDA zones 8 through 11. The plant will die if exposed to frost or long cold temperatures.
In Mexico and Central America the Agave Americana is used as a fence on farms. Because of their sharp spines and margins they keep out cattle and people and predators. The plant, used as an ornament, is a wonderful addition to any rock or cactus garden. The eternal plant can be grown in a container, but the size will be much smaller than if it were grown in the soil.
Plant unique functions
The plant may need more than ten years to bloom in warm climate regions. In colder climates expect to wait up to sixty years to see flowers. The Century plant is known to have medicinal properties. The juice extracted from the leaves is applied to bruises to accelerate healing. With oral intake it is assumed that the juice helps with constipation, indigestion and flatulence. The flower stalk has a sweet taste and can be roasted and eaten. The seeds are processed into a flour and are used in bread and soups. Tequila is made from the juice of the blue agave. A natural sweetener is produced from the blue Agave fruit and marketed as a sugar substitute.