Agave ‘Kissho Kan’ (Century Plant) is a tough and beautiful ornamental succulent plant for container gardens. The plant has a strong form growing in a tight symmetrical rosette. It has more coloring than many other species of Agave plants. It bears creamy light yellow coloring adjacent to the blue green centers on its leaves. And the spines at the tips are cinnamon colored but prominent enough to be used as a color echo in a mixed container garden.
Besides being beautiful, it is a really easy to grow plant. Low-maintenance, it will last for years and potentially bloom (if you are lucky), and then die. Yup, croak. However, it will offer up Mini-Me’s over time as offshoots from the base prior to its death. And if the plant lasts at your home long enough for it to offer its flower stalks as its final gift to you, you may in turn want to honor its life and eventual passing by downing a shot of tequila — because, as many folks know, Agaves are used to produce the strong elixir.
Mini-Me’s from the Mother Plant
When mine was sprouting offsets (Mini-Me’s) at the base, I decided it was time for it to be re-potted. I grabbed a couple special gardening tools and selected an urn I had in my stock (perfect as it was one size up from the former pot). Collecting up some tools, I did my propagation routine which was easier than I expected.
- Beach towel
- Large grill tongs
- Fish tank gravel
- Potting mix amended with some coarse gravel and sand
- Thick garden gloves, the type with rubber fingers and palms
- Coarse airy stones for the top of the soil
The beach towel was used because I was lazy, and wanted to grab something quickly to put on my table to collect any fallen soil as I worked.
The grill tongs used because I couldn’t think of what else was handy to hold onto the Agave, but it turns out I didn’t really need those cause the plant easily shook out of the pot onto the towel.
The fish tank gravel was from a fish tank years ago. I knew I’d find a use for it. It was washed and rinsed prior to filling the base of the urn with it, to about a 1/3 of the way up from the base for drainage. Remember, well-draining soil is critical for this plant.
The thick garden gloves, well – for obvious reasons. To protect my hands from the Agave’s spines at the leaf tips.
And lastly, coarse porous black stones were for the top of the soil. Agave plants sit so close to the soil line that putting some barrier material between it and potentially wet soil will help to avoid rot situations. Also, the soil mix used must be porous. You can look for the type used for succulents or cacti if you don’t want to amend it yourself.
Each little baby plant or Mini-Me (a.k.a., sucker, sprout, offsets or offshoots) at the base of the Momma plant were easily pulled away and re-potted. Given to special gardening friends with a word of caution: Not hardy, avoid cold wet rain situations (early spring, late fall), and watch your hands or butt should you walk by this plant – the spines are sharp.
The pot should be relative to the size of the current plant. It thrives in tight conditions and is a slow-grower so it won’t overtake a pot or container garden quickly. Select a pot that is form fitting if you plan to grow it solo, or in a mixed planting situation, you can go somewhat bigger if desired.
There are plenty of succulents and alpine type plants you can use to mix it up in a container garden for a real show. Want some ideas of what those are? Visit my Succulent Sensations Pinterest boards and attend my May 24th class in 2014.
There is much to know including how easy it is to give birth (propagate) new plants (Mini-Me’s) from the mother plant. Because, as I said earlier, this plant is easy to grow, you should have grandchildren from Agave ‘Kissho Kan’ in a two to three years.
Celebrate its Birth and Size with Tequila
This plant will grow to about 15″ or so, slowly. However, other Agave species grow rather large. If you want to see a really big blue agave plant being dug out of the soil by a strong farmer, check out this video. I’d like to hire this guy to dig out some yucca plants in garden beds, equally tough to remove. And then have a couple tequila shots with him, because the plant he is harvesting is used to make tequila. And, believe me, he’s earned a shot or two if he does this process for the whole field of plants.
Fortunately, Agave ‘Kissho Kan’ is far more manageable, and it will not grow as large as shown in the video above. It is perfect for container gardens and for people who are a little negligent with their watering routines because the plant enjoys desert to semi desert conditions.
As mentioned above, the only thing you can do wrong to it is let it sit in cold wet conditions – this usually leads to rot on the leaves. My recommendation is to put it outdoors in the early summer after the early cold spring rains are done, and it is warm outside regularly. And to move it back inside for the winter before the cold autumn rains hit. It likes to stay warm. Most people fail with this plant because they think it will be okay if it gets rain at that time period because you still have warm days between cold rainfall, but I say avoid that cold rain situation all together for success.
Death after Flowering
If you don’t kill it, or die from doing too many tequila shots – great – the plant (and you) will last a very long time, and even perhaps a beyond a few centuries. They grow so slow that many won’t produce a flower spike until after 15, 20 or even 30 years when it reaches maturity. The flowers rise on tall stalks and put on quite a show. In this video, you can see how a flower stalk reaches to the heavens. It is quite spectacular, requiring years and then just the right conditions to come out into the open.
Some Agaves will grow flowers regularly, but I must confess, I am not sure if Agave ‘Kissho Kan’ is one of them. There are some confusing references on it but not a concern, if I see a flower stalk appear, I’ll let you know immediately. In fact, I’ll be sure to brag about it. And then do a tequila shot to celebrate my success and to honor plant’s eventual passing after giving so much to its life.
Want to join me when this happens? I’ll get the good kind.
Agave (Century Plant)
Agave sp. Kichokan
Agave potatorum ‘Variegata’
Zones 9-10 / Full Sun
15″ Tall Rosette
See my blog post about this place HERE.
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