Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave Plant)

Agave shawii

Last updated on September 7th, 2022 at 07:37 am

Shaw’s agave plant, also known as Agave shawii, Shaw’s giant agave, or Coastal Agave, is an extremely hardy and drought-tolerant species that prefers full sun exposure. It’s native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and California, and was discovered by George Shaw in the early 19th century.

Shaw’s agave plant was named after William Shaw, a professor at Harvard University in the late 1800s. This plant is native to southern Arizona and northern Mexico, but it’s now common in many different parts of the world as an ornamental plant and houseplant.

If you have one of these plants and are trying to figure out how to grow it, here are some tips that can help you keep your Shaw’s agave healthy and growing happily in your home or garden.

Origin and distribution

Agave shawii (the Shaw’s agave plant) is native to a small region in Southern California, where it grows in coastal areas, mostly on sandy beaches. It is also known as coastal agave for its adaptability and proximity to sand-rich environments.

It typically thrives at elevations ranging from 0 to 1,500 feet. The plant has been observed growing in both full sun and partial shade. The soil can be coarse or fine, but it must be well-drained; if waterlogged, Agave shawii will die within a few weeks of planting.

In addition, coastal agaves require an ample supply of moisture throughout their entire life cycle. Although they are drought tolerant once established, these plants do not perform well under conditions of extreme heat and low humidity.

Agave shawii propagation

Agave shawii

This succulent can be propagated easily through stem cutting. I find that it is best to let them sit out in indirect sunlight for a few hours before cutting, as their leaves tend to get damaged and turn brown if they are exposed directly to sunlight right after being cut.

Also, when placing in a permanent pot, use an all-purpose soil mixture with little-to-no perlite or vermiculite. Make sure your pot has good drainage holes, otherwise you will end up with a soggy mess! It also helps to add about 1/4 of gravel at the bottom of your pots; it seems to help keep moisture levels consistent and will make watering easier.

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When first repotting, you may want to water lightly every day until you see new growth coming in. After that initial watering period, water once every two weeks or so depending on how quickly your plant is growing.

Agave shawii care information

Agave shawii

The Shaw’s agave is native to southern Africa, where it grows in full sun and sandy or clay soil. In cultivation, its popularity as a rock garden plant has led to hybridization with other Agaves, most commonly Agave filifera and Agave chrysantha.

It can be grown outdoors year-round in subtropical regions where winter lows do not dip below 10°F (-12°C). The plants require little care once established but should be protected from prolonged frost.

Light requirement

Agave shawii plant prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. Use organically rich, well-drained soil to ensure healthy growth. Make sure to allow plenty of room for your agave to grow. This plant can reach up to 8 feet in height! A minimum of 6 feet between other plants is recommended.

Make sure that it receives at least six hours of sunlight every day.

Soil/potting mix

The Shaw’s agave plant requires soil that is of a well-draining clay consistency. Therefore, a potting mix rich in loam and perlite with peat moss can be used to maintain an ideal growing environment for your Shaw’s agave plant.

The most commonly used soils consist of three parts sand to one part silt, one part clay, and half of it should be organic matter, whether it is compost or manure.


Keep a close eye on your plant to ensure it is getting enough water. This plant grows best in arid areas, so it does not require frequent watering. In fact, too much water can cause root rot and possibly even kill your agave shawii.

It’s recommended that you water lightly at least once every two weeks during periods of hot weather and drought. If you have over-watered, drainage holes in the pot will help flush out excess soil from around your roots.

Agave Plants Care And Tips

This plant needs little water to thrive, water only when the soil is completely dry, or every five to seven days.

When watering your plant, be sure that it has adequate drainage with pots set on a gravel tray, allowing for good airflow.


Fertilizing agave shawii isn’t necessary, but it can be beneficial if done at specific times during their growth. They prefer soil rich in organic matter, so consider adding compost to your potted plants or fertilizer once every other month.

A diluted solution of 20-20-20 fertilizer can be used and will promote strong growth of leaves and blooms. Alternatively, you can use slow-release pellets to avoid overfertilization.


Agave shawii is best grown in temperatures between 68 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be kept away from direct sunlight because it cannot handle extreme heat. If you live in a very hot area, consider placing your agave shawii in an unheated garage or shady location during extreme summer months.


If you live in a dry climate, mist your Shaw’s agave plant every few days to increase humidity. Mist early in the day to let dry before nightfall. Also, using a humidifier in your home can help create a more hospitable environment for an agave plant.

Shaw’s agaves enjoy humidity levels between 30 and 40 percent. For plants that have been outdoors, keep indoor humidity low during the winter months and then gradually increase it as spring approaches.


The best way to care for your Shaw’s agave is to prune it as little as possible. They prefer dry soil, so over-watering will cause rot and mold. If you do need to water it, try not to get too much water at one time or in one spot, which can create leaf burn.

When to repot

At 1 year old, repot Agave shawii into a larger container. Replant it in a rich, well-draining cactus mix with added perlite to promote fast drainage. Use fertilizer specifically made for cacti and succulents.

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When it is rootbound, that is, when it looks like its roots are growing out of its pot, t’s time to repot again into an even larger container or directly into the ground in warm areas or containers indoors elsewhere.

The plant can grow up to 5 feet tall and wide, so make sure you have plenty of room. Shaw’s agave plants can live outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 but will do best if brought inside during winter months in cold climates.

Dormancy/Winter rest

Agave shawii plant will go into dormancy during the cold winter months. The leaves of these plants will fall off and it may look like they are dead, but in reality, they are simply dormant.

During dormancy, water can be withheld and during periods of drought when water is being rationed you must withhold all water until new growth begins to emerge again in spring.

Be sure to use well-draining soil that drains within 12 hours. If drainage is poor or slow, water will sit on top of your soil and cause root rot.

Agave shawii flower & fragrance

Shaw’s agave plants can flower at any time but are especially prolific between June and September. Their white flowers only last for a few days, but their gorgeous fragrance can be smelled from miles away!

You might even spot hummingbirds visiting them if you go on a guided tour in July or August. A guide is always happy to show you around – they’re just as curious about Shaw’s agaves as you are!

Growth rate

Agave shawii

Agave shawii is among one of the slowest growing and most drought-tolerant plants. With proper care, it can live over 15 years or longer with minimal maintenance.


The sap of Agave shawii contains a chemical called fructosan which, if consumed, could be toxic and possibly fatal. Also, don’t consume any part of Shaw’s agave in large quantities or for extended periods of time.

Agave kewensis (Grijalva's Agave)

USDA hardiness zones

Agave shawii thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. In these areas, it can be planted outdoors during the summer months and kept as a potted plant indoors during the winter months. In other regions, it should be grown as a houseplant.

It requires full sun exposure to thrive and should not be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be well-drained and slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

A slow-release fertilizer can be added monthly at half strength when plants are actively growing.

Pests and diseases

Agave shawii is susceptible to attack by a variety of insects, including scale insects, mites, and mealybugs. While some insecticidal soap or horticultural oil sprays are effective against most of these pests, it is also possible to attract beneficial insects from your garden that will feed on these pests.

Parasitic wasps in particular can be very helpful. They lay their eggs in or on an infested agave and feed on the inside of it for about two weeks before emerging as adults.

You should also check your plants every week for pests like mealybugs, aphids, and scale.

You can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove these pests from leaves without harming your plant.


Agave shawii plant is a fast-growing flowering plant that needs to be pruned regularly to prevent it from taking over your garden. Its unique shape makes it one of the most ornamental plants you can grow in your garden, and with its help in pollinating flowers, you’ll have an abundant harvest of produce each year.

The Shaw’s agave plant comes highly recommended by botanists around the world as a great addition to any home gardener’s garden.