Agave pumila (Dwarf Agave Plant)

agave pumila

Agave pumila, more commonly known as the dwarf agave plant, mini agave plant, small agave plant, or miniature agave plant, can be a great choice of succulents to add to your home or office. With its striking beauty and strong air purifying properties, it’s sure to impress visitors while helping keep your indoor air clean and fresh at the same time.

A common misconception about agave pumila is that it only reaches a maximum height of one foot (30 cm). This may be true when grown indoors, but as long as the plant receives at least six hours of sunlight each day, it will grow to its maximum height of three feet (90 cm).

When receiving less than six hours of sunlight per day, this succulent plant will only grow to the size of the pot in which it’s planted.

Agave pumila is an excellent choice if you’re looking to add some color and life to your garden in the form of a potted agave plant, but you don’t have much room for one of the traditional varieties. The dwarf agave plant has long been a favorite of gardeners because it can tolerate full sun exposure and still grow in containers just two inches tall.

If you’re wondering where to buy dwarf agave plants, this article will help you understand what you need to know about these versatile plants and how to select the perfect specimen for your needs.

Origin and distribution

The agave pumila is native to Mexico and Central America. Also known as Mexican Blue Mat, it was originally discovered in Veracruz, Mexico. The dwarf agave plant is also distributed throughout Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

It can be found growing on hillsides, rocky areas, and on limestone substrates at elevations between 200-1,000 meters above sea level. It thrives in full sun or partial shade conditions with well-drained soil. The miniature agave plant is hardy to temperatures of -2°C during winter months but will die if exposed to frost.

Agave pumila propagation

agave pumila

An agave pumila propagates through one of three methods: suckers, stoloniferous propagation, and bulbils. Suckers are new plants that grow from a mother plant’s rhizome. Stoloniferous propagation occurs when a rhizome detaches from its parent plant and grows into an entirely new baby agave.

However, it will not produce leaves until it has formed some roots of its own. Lastly, bulbils are little bulb-like growths on a mother plant that can be removed and planted to create more mini agaves.

Bulbil propagation is less common than sucker or stolon propagation because it takes more time for bulbil to form enough roots to survive on its own. In fact, most growers opt for a sucker or stoloniferous propagation because they require less time to reach maturity.

Regardless of which method you choose, once your mini agave plant reaches about six inches in height, you should start preparing to repot it so that it doesn’t outgrow its pot too quickly. As long as you keep your mini agave well-watered and fertilized throughout its lifetime, you should be able to enjoy years of growth with your miniature agave!

Agave pumila care information

agave pumila

The care for agave pumila is very similar to that of other succulents. These plants prefer full sun and dry soil, which makes them perfect for xeriscaping. In fact, they are so hardy that they can even be grown indoors.

They are drought-tolerant and do not require a lot of water or fertilizer. If you choose to fertilize your plant, use a very weak solution once a month during the spring and summer months.

The dwarf agave plant is succulent. As such, it requires very little care.

Light requirement

The miniature agave plant requires six hours of indirect sunlight per day. It will not tolerate direct sunlight, which can cause its leaves to burn and turn brown. If you place your dwarf agave in a spot that receives only four hours of light per day, it will grow more slowly than if it were placed in a location with at least six hours of light each day.

Soil/potting mix

Agave pumila grows best in sandy, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. The potting mix should be slightly acidic and balanced between peat moss and perlite or sand. The plants will enjoy a bright location but require very little water, especially when young. Grow your agaves in a brightly lit window that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Watering

The dwarf agave plants should be watered only when they’re completely dry. Overwatering can lead to rotting, so it’s important to get into a routine and stay consistent.

You should also water them early in the day and allow them to dry out in between watering. By doing so, you’ll be certain that your plant doesn’t sit wet for an extended period of time. During hotter summer months, dwarf agaves will appreciate being misted with water to keep humidity levels high.

Fertilizer

If you’re growing your Agave pumila plant in a container, start using fertilizer as soon as you’ve planted it. A diluted solution of fish emulsion is a great way to get your baby agave off to a good start. This seedling formula has many important nutrients that will help your agave grow big and strong.

Once you’ve transplanted your agave into its permanent home, switch over to an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer like Miracle-Gro® Indoor Houseplant Food. Dilute according to package directions and use every two weeks during the growing season.

Temperature

If you live in an area where frost is possible, you’ll need to keep a small agave plant indoors. Most varieties of dwarf agaves require temperatures around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth. A mini agave is not going to tolerate below 50-degree nights well.

Ideally, your mini agave will be placed in a south-facing window that receives full sun during most of the day. Keep your mini agave away from heat sources and drafts as much as possible.

Humidity

A dwarf agave plant doesn’t require high humidity to grow. In fact, too much humidity can cause problems for agaves. Use a humidifier only if your home is very dry. Make sure to place it far from your agave plants, which could be negatively affected by excessive moisture. If you have any questions about how to adjust your home’s humidity level for your agaves, consult with a professional before proceeding.

The ideal humidity range is between 40 and 60 percent. Use a hygrometer to monitor your home’s humidity level. If it falls below 40 percent, you can increase it by placing bowls of water in rooms where your agaves are located. If it exceeds 60 percent, you can decrease it by opening windows or using a dehumidifier. You should also consult with a professional if you have any questions about how to adjust your home’s humidity level for your agaves.

Pruning

If you choose to prune your dwarf agave plant, we recommend using either hedge shears or sharp scissors and pruning back only to new growth as needed. Do not prune your dwarf agave plant in the winter months when it’s asleep. It is best to wait until spring when new growth appears.

We also recommend that you keep all cuts at least one inch away from the main trunk of your dwarf agave plant. This will help ensure the proper healing of any cuts made on your small agave plants.

When to repot

Once your agave plant has outgrown its pot, you’ll want to move it into a bigger pot. If your plant is in need of repotting, then it’s time to move it into a slightly larger pot and give it some additional fertilizer.

To repot your agave plants, use these simple steps:

  1. Find a pot that is at least one inch wider than your current container and at least two inches deeper.
  2. Fill about three-quarters of the new container with soil mix for succulents or cacti, which should be light and well-draining but not necessarily sterile or nutrient-free.
  3. Set your agave plant on top of the soil and fill in around it with more soil until there are only a few inches between the top of your agave plant’s root ball and the top of your pot.
  4. Water thoroughly so that water drains from holes in the bottom of the pot.
  5. Let sit until excess water has drained from the bottom before placing back on the display shelf or table.
  6. Fertilize every two weeks during the spring and summer months with a half-strength mixture of 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer diluted in water according to package directions.
  7. Watch your agave grow! It will take several years for your dwarf agave plant to reach maturity, but once it does, you can expect blooms year after year.

Dormancy/Winter rest

agave pumila

If you are growing your agave outside, it may experience a dormancy period each winter when it goes dormant and has no leaves. This is nature’s way of protecting itself from extremely cold temperatures that would otherwise kill or damage it.

Make sure that your agave is properly planted so that it receives enough water through winter dormancy. If you live in an area where there is potential for freezing weather, dig up your plant and store it in a cool place indoors until spring arrives.

Then replant it outdoors. Water only lightly during dormancy to prevent root rot and overwatering. Once new growth appears in spring, resume normal watering habits to keep your plant healthy throughout the summer months.

Agave pumila flower & fragrance

The flowers are light yellow and appear once a year, usually in summer. Each flower is about 1 inch in diameter and lasts only one day. They emit a strong scent that attracts bats at night, although they do not seem to be pollinated by them.

Growth rate

The most remarkable feature of Pumila agave is its enormous growth rate, especially when young. It may grow up to 3 m in a year. About 3 years after planting, an average plant has reached 1 m in height, whereas giant plants can reach 5–6 m within 10 years and eventually 15–20 m under ideal conditions; some living specimens have been reported to be 25 or even 30 m tall!

While growing they send out suckers around their base, forming large clumps which can become quite expansive.

Toxicity

If ingested, agave may cause mild gastrointestinal irritation. However, because of its rarity in gardens and landscaping, it’s less likely that a person would accidentally ingest an agave.

Dwarf agaves are even more of a rare occurrence and aren’t readily available in nurseries. If you have dwarf agaves in your garden or landscaping, keep children and pets away from them as they can harm unsuspecting children or animals if touched or stepped on.

USDA hardiness zones

Agave pumila thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10. The plant is not frost-tolerant, so it should be planted outdoors only after all danger of frost has passed.

It will grow well as a container plant in colder climates, but will need to be brought indoors during cold weather. In warmer climates, such as zone 9 and above, Agave pumila can be grown outdoors year-round.

Pests and diseases

Pests, such as aphids and mealybugs, can affect dwarf agaves. If left untreated, these pests can kill your plant.

The fungal disease known as Rhizoctonia root rot is another common affliction of dwarf agaves; if you notice dead patches on your plant’s leaves that aren’t caused by insect damage, it may be suffering from Rhizoctonia root rot.

Conclusion

Although there are many large agave plants that can grow to be 5 or 6 feet tall, there is one particular type of agave that grows only a few inches in height. This type of agave plant is called an agave pumila and it comes from Mexico.

The agave pumila is native to central Mexico, so it can survive most environments with ease. Although its size does not impress when compared to other species of agaves, its usefulness certainly does.