Agave parviflora, commonly known as the smallflower century plant or the Santa Cruz striped agave, is an evergreen species of succulent in the asparagus family, Asparagaceae, that is native to southern Mexico and Guatemala.
Its rosettes of triangular or lance-shaped leaves are up to 60 centimeters long and 7 centimeters wide at the base and it produces flowering stalks tall with densely arranged flowers at the tip.
The plant was first described in 1841 by German botanist Carl Friedrich Schmidt and given its current binomial name by American botanist John Torrey in 1843.
Agave parviflora is one of the smaller species of agave, with leaves that measure only 2 to 3 feet long. It is native to Mexico and Central America, where it grows in arid coastal plains. The plant can live up to 20 years and produces yellow flowers in late summer or early fall.
Origin and distribution
Agave parviflora is native to Mexico and Central America, where it is widely distributed in mountain ranges. In Mexico, it is known as huizache or santa cruz striped agave. It also occurs in South America as far south as Argentina, but it has been introduced elsewhere too, including various islands of Oceania.
Its natural habitat is rocky slopes at elevations between 900 and 2200 m above sea level. Its range overlaps with that of Agave salmiana, which grows in similar habitats at lower altitudes; there are no records of hybridization between these two species.
Agave parviflora propagation
Santa Cruz striped agaves are traditionally propagated by dividing off or by offset production. Offsets can be removed at any time during their development, and each one should produce roots if kept moist for 2-3 weeks. While offsets are a great way to get several plants quickly, propagation from seed is another option.
Seed pods will develop in about 3 years and then scatter seeds up to 10 feet from the parent plant. Seeds germinate best when fresh but can also be stored for later use. Seeds should not be allowed to dry out completely before planting, as they need moisture to begin germination.
The easiest method of germination is to sprinkle them on top of an appropriate medium and cover them with 1/8 of soil. Water lightly until seedlings emerge. Once established, these plants grow rapidly, producing flower stalks within 4-5 months after reaching maturity.
Flowering may occur year-round depending on temperature and water availability; however, it tends to peak between October and January in California’s coastal areas. The flowers last only one day but are produced almost continuously throughout most of the year.
Agave parviflora care information
Agave parviflora is considered easy to grow in average, well-drained soil in full sun. It is drought-tolerant, and can even tolerate poor soils. When grown as a container plant, make sure to increase pot size every few years, as they have a tendency to become root-bound.
Add fresh soil yearly or every other year; these plants have been known to live for over 50 years when cared for properly. It requires little maintenance once established in its growing location.
Full sun is best for your Agave parviflora, but with some afternoon shade it can do OK in a hot climate. If you grow it in full sun you’ll want to make sure and give it a very deep watering once a week.
It doesn’t like to get too dry between waterings so be careful about how often you water agaves if they don’t naturally get regular rainfall. This isn’t one that will grow well if planted in too much shade or insufficiently watered until established.
Soil for Agave parviflora should be a loose, well-drained mix of sand and organic material such as peat or compost. Avoid garden soils and potting mixes made primarily of inorganic materials like vermiculite or perlite. These mixes tend to drain too fast or have too high a pH (acidity). Be sure your soil is sufficiently acidic, test it with litmus paper, to avoid fatal root problems.
Water new Agave parviflora plants well and keep them evenly moist, at least until they’re established. From there, continue to water regularly, but don’t overdo it. Agaves can rot if too much water collects in their rosettes. In fact, overwatering is a common cause of death for potted agaves.
If you live in an arid climate, check your plant frequently during summer heat waves; otherwise, once or twice a month should be sufficient. If you notice any yellowing or brown spots on leaves, reduce watering immediately.
Also, avoid overhead watering; instead, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems that deliver water directly to the soil beneath your plant’s foliage.
If you wish to fertilize your Agave parviflora, fish emulsion is a good option. Be careful, however; most fertilizers will burn your agave. A better way to achieve healthy growth is by providing it with organic sources of nitrogen and phosphorus.
These can be found in compost or aged manure. Just make sure they’re well-aged before using them on your plants. And don’t use chemical fertilizers, they may kill your plant!
Keep your Agave parviflora at 60–70 degrees during its active growth period, which will last around 6 months in spring and summer. You can lower it to 55–60 degrees over winter. Make sure you don’t let it drop below 50 or freeze. Agaves like heat and sun, but avoid hot afternoon sun in summer, it may burn them if they aren’t used to it.
Just as too much water can kill your Agave parviflora, too little water can also kill it. Over-watering may cause root rot and/or bloat, both of which are fatal for your plant. To avoid over-watering you’ll need to determine what is normal for your climate. If you live in a hot or dry climate, check for moisture by sticking your finger about 3 into the soil to see if it feels damp.
The ideal humidity range is 40-60%. However, if you live in a humid climate, your agave may need more water. If you’re concerned about over-watering, check for moisture by sticking your finger about 3 into the soil to see if it feels damp.
If it does not feel damp, then you are probably under-watering and should increase the frequency of watering. If it feels moist, then you are probably overwatering and should decrease the frequency of watering.
While succulents and cacti may seem rugged, they need regular pruning to keep them healthy. Just as you might trim a bonsai tree or clip your fingernails to keep them tidy, agaves and other succulents need pruning so that their plants aren’t damaged from crowding or overgrowth. Make sure you sterilize all of your gardening tools first! Then, follow these steps:
Inspect your plant for dead leaves and stems. These can be trimmed off at any time during the year. However, it is best to do it in late winter or early spring when new growth starts growing vigorously. Trim off any dead parts of your plant with clean shears or a sharp knife. Be careful not to damage live tissue while doing so!
When to repot
Repot your smallflower century plant in spring when it outgrows its pot, but keep it in a container at least 15 inches across. Use a rich, fast-draining potting mix that doesn’t hold water, such as equal parts of sand and horticultural-grade perlite or two parts potting soil and one part perlite. The plant should be repotted every 2 to 3 years, or when it becomes rootbound.
Once established, Agave parviflora do not need to be watered in their dormant period. Since agaves are succulents, many do not need to go completely dry; it is best to follow whatever watering schedule your particular variety requires.
If you live in a frost-free area and have an agave that is native to a colder climate, you may want to move it into a garage or shed over winter. The same can be done for species that require cooler temperatures during dormancy. Some will even tolerate light frosts if they are kept dry.
In areas with mild winters, they can remain outside as long as they are mulched well to prevent the heaving of soil due to freezing temperatures. In cold climates where there is no danger of snow cover, consider covering them with burlap sacks during freezing weather conditions.
Agave parviflora flower & fragrance
Agave plants are well known for their stunning, large showy flowers that are used in floral arrangements. Agave parviflora plants are also some of nature’s great air purifiers, their strong fragrance actually helping to remove toxins from indoor air. As a result, many people will grow agaves in their house or office space as an air filtering system that is beneficial to human health and well-being.
Agave parviflora is a slow-growing plant. In ideal conditions, it can grow as much as 6 inches per year, but under normal conditions will be smaller. The growth rate depends greatly on its location and available sunlight.
Typically, agaves grow their most in their first year but continue to add height throughout their lives. It takes about five years for them to reach maturity. By that time they should be large enough to flower.
Agave parviflora plants are poisonous to both humans and animals. When ingested by people, they may experience gastrointestinal issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Additionally, even when consumed in moderation they can be harmful to a person’s health because of high concentrations of furfural and related compounds produced during their processing into alcohol. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified agave furanone as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on limited evidence in laboratory animals.
USDA hardiness zones
Agave parviflora thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 8-10. If you live outside of these zones, it’s a good idea to keep your agave potted and bring it indoors during the winter months. It’s also important to note that agaves are susceptible to frost damage, so be sure to protect them from harsh weather conditions.
You can do so by wrapping your plant in a thick blanket or moving it into an unheated garage or shed.
Pests and diseases
As with many other succulents, Agave parviflora are prone to get attacked by pests and diseases. One of its major pests is the spider mite. You can control these insects by using insecticidal soap or dish soap or avoid buying plants that are infested with these bugs.
Another pest affecting agaves is fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, which can spread quickly and eventually ruin your plant completely. If you notice white patches on your leaves, it’s time to take action before it spreads further. Remove affected leaves immediately and prune off any parts of the plant where you see signs of infection.
You may also want to try spraying a solution made from baking soda and water onto infected areas; repeat every 7 days until there are no more signs of infection.
The Agave parviflora is a slow-growing succulent plant that makes an excellent addition to a container garden. It grows well indoors, outdoors, and thrives best in milder climates. This versatile plant can be used as an indoor or outdoor landscape plant.
Because of its drought tolerance, it can be left unattended for periods of time without water which also makes it a good choice for someone who has minimal gardening experience.