Agave angustifolia, commonly known as the Caribbean Agave Plant, is an ornamental plant with naturalized populations across South Florida and the Caribbean region.
A member of the Asparagaceae family, Agave angustifolia has become widely popular due to its striking appearance, ease of care, and drought tolerance. Growing from 1-3 feet in height, Agave angustifolia bears succulent leaves which can reach up to 3 feet in length and 2 inches in width.
The Caribbean Agave plant, Agave caribaea, or The Blue Aloe of the Bahamas and Bermuda, is one of the most popular tropical plants in the world today due to its beauty and alluring foliage.
This article will explain how to properly care for an Agave angustifolia so that you can enjoy its luscious look year-round, indoors or out.
What is the Caribbean Agave Plant?
The Caribbean Agave Plant, also called the Agave angustifolia, is one of many varieties of agave plants, making up part of the Agavaceae family in the Asparagales order. This tropical plant originates from tropical and subtropical Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Belize.
Origin and distribution
The Agave angustifolia plant is native to Mexico and Central America. It can be found in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate regions of Argentina, Brazil, Bermuda, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Jamaica. They are also found in parts of Africa.
Although they are cultivated in these areas today; they were once only naturally occurring plants that colonized these areas centuries ago. Today, many species of agaves are endangered due to the over-harvesting of their sap.
Some agaves have been listed as endangered by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). This has led some people to believe that all agaves should be treated as endangered species even though some do not need protection.
Agave angustifolia propagation
Cuttings can be rooted in either soil or water. Many growers like to root them in sand or a mixture of sphagnum moss and perlite. They can take several months to form roots and should be kept above 60 degrees F while rooting. If they do not root easily, dipping them in a rooting hormone powder will increase your chances of success.
New plants are potted up in regular potting soil once they have at least three leaves and their roots have become established. When you move your new plant from its pot into its final container, make sure that it has plenty of room for growth; repot only when necessary.
Plants grown in containers tend to grow larger than those grown in-ground, so plan accordingly. It is best to allow your agave plenty of room until it reaches maturity so that it does not outgrow its space too quickly. The agave’s shallow root system makes transplanting difficult, especially if you are moving it outside during warmer weather.
The best time to transplant an agave is during cooler temperatures between October and March, this gives it time to establish itself before summer heat sets in.
Agave angustifolia care information
Caribbean agaves are more suited to a sunny, open area rather than being confined by walls. If you wish to grow your agave against a wall, they will need frequent watering in well-drained soil. Make sure that your agave receives 6 hours of sunlight each day.
Also, keep in mind that your agave is not a cactus! You cannot expect them to be able to survive long periods of dryness and will require regular watering depending on their level of exposure to sunlight and air circulation.
Agave angustifolia prefers full sun to part shade. It should get at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. If grown indoors, it will be a good idea to rotate your plant every few days so that it can adjust to light conditions and not be leggy or elongated. You will also want to make sure that you expose your plant to as much light as possible and avoid damping-off fungal growth.
The most common way to do so is by placing your plant in a south-facing window where it will receive plenty of natural light. Make sure that there are no obstructions in front of your windows such as curtains or blinds; these may block some of the light from reaching your agave.
Also, keep in mind that if you place your agave outdoors during the summer months and bring it inside during the winter months, its leaves may brown up because they are used to being exposed to more sunlight than they would receive indoors.
The soil should be well-drained with some organic material and perlite. Avoid planting in hard clay or heavy soils which will cause your plant to become pot-bound. If you are using an artificial growing medium such as coco-peat, there is no need to add perlite as it is already added.
A gritty sandy medium works well with agaves due to their heavy, fibrous root system. It is also important that you use a good quality potting mix that has been sterilized for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
This will kill any fungus or other pests that may have been present in the mix before sterilization. Once your plants are established, they can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but do best when provided with a well-draining growing medium.
The Agave angustifolia is a drought-tolerant plant, so regular watering is not necessary. The soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings; if you notice yellowing leaves or stunted growth, your plant needs more water.
If you’re growing it indoors, keep your plant away from south-facing windows. If possible, move it outdoors during the summer months and bring it back inside before temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
While they are drought-tolerant, Caribbean agaves should be fed a fertilizer high in nitrogen. Choose either a time-release or liquid type. If you opt for a time-release fertilizer, apply it during your plant’s dormant period in winter when no growth is taking place.
For liquid types, mix them at half strength and use them every two weeks during spring and summer. The best time to fertilize is just before new growth begins to appear. You can also add compost around your plants if you have access to some.
Agave angustifolia plant grows well in warm, tropical areas. Though its thick leaves help protect it from extreme heat, they may scorch if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. In its native region, these plants grow in shaded forests and ravines at high elevations of approximately 4,000 feet above sea level.
The plant grows best at an average temperature of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius and will tolerate temperatures as low as 5 degrees Celsius.
Indoors, it’s a good idea to grow Agave angustifolia in medium to high humidity conditions. Without humidity, they may lose their leaves and go dormant; with too much humidity, however, they may grow excessively large and rot. In either case, it’s a good idea to mist them with water several times a week while they’re indoors so that they can retain their leaves and size.
The ideal humidity range is between 50 and 70 percent. You can measure your home’s humidity with a hygrometer, which you can buy at any hardware store. If your home’s relative humidity falls below 50 percent, it’s best to grow agaves outdoors in a garden or greenhouse where they can be exposed to more humid conditions.
Like many succulents, Agave angustifolia requires pruning to keep it in check and to promote new growth. Though it’s possible to use scissors, a sharp knife or pair of snips will make clean cuts.
Prune dead leaves and rotted stalks from your agave, but refrain from cutting back into green areas; only cut away dying material. Do not trim more than one-third of an agave plant at any given time. If you want to encourage branching, remove some of its sides shoots when they reach about 12 inches long.
When to repot
To repot Agave angustifolia, you have to do it at exactly the right time. If you’re repotting your plant in spring, then as soon as it starts growing again, that’s a good time to do so. If you choose to repot during summer or fall, however, you should wait until after its second flush of growth.
This is because if you repot before then, there will be no new roots for next year. Once your agave has flowered and set seed pods, it’s time to move on from that pot and into something larger.
During its first year, you may find that your new Agave angustifolia is getting smaller than you’d expect. This means it’s probably going into a dormancy period, which can last anywhere from a few months to years. During dormancy, you should give your plant as much sunlight as possible and keep it away from drafts. Water only sparingly.
Many agaves won’t come out of dormancy until spring, so be patient. If yours doesn’t emerge by then, you may need to move it outside for a while in order to wake it up.
If you have an older agave and are wondering whether or not it needs winter rest, try moving it outdoors for several weeks in winter; if nothing happens after that time, bring it back inside and assume dormancy has already set in. If your plant starts growing again on its own once indoors, leave it alone! It will resume growing when conditions are right.
Agave angustifolia flower & fragrance
The flowers of agave plants come in several colors from yellow to bright red. They appear in spring, or when mature plants are heavily watered. The flowers last for only a day and are pollinated by hummingbirds and bats.
If you want to enjoy their fragrance indoors, try drying them with silica gel and hanging them upside down in a cool dry place for about two weeks. Just open them occasionally to make sure they aren’t stuck together!
Agave angustifolia has a slow to medium growth rate. Needs a large space with good light but also plenty of water and humidity. Be careful not to overwater as agaves are susceptible to root rot.
When ingested, Agave angustifolia may cause gastrointestinal distress. If ingested in large quantities it can also result in kidney failure. It is also toxic to cats and dogs. All parts of agave contain saponins which are toxic to animals, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
USDA hardiness zones
Agave angustifolia grows well in USDA zones 9-11, though there are reports that it can be grown successfully as far north as zone 7. The plants don’t grow in winter so they need to be kept indoors in climates that do not see at least 10 hours of daylight per day during the winter months.
Pests and diseases
Like many other succulent plants, Agave angustifolia is susceptible to a number of pest and disease issues. The two most common problems that occur with agaves are mealybugs and whiteflies. These tiny insects are hard to detect on a plant, but they can do a lot of damage very quickly. Mealybugs excrete honeydew, which creates an ideal environment for black sooty mold growth on your plant’s leaves, stems, and fruit.
The Agave angustifolia plant is a strong and hardy plant that grows well in most climates. They do not grow as quickly as some other varieties, but they do provide their owners with highly valuable products.