By Blenda Copeland
It’s been a few years since The Citizen last featured a blooming Century Plant (one of the common names for the plant scientifically classified as Agave Americana) . That plant bloomed in time for a local man’s wedding anniversary. A storm felled the plant not long after it bloomed.
The succulent pictured above was planted about 25 to 30 years ago by Beth Webster’s mother on 15th Street in Phenix City.
As of May 17, its stalk had reached an impressive height, as seen in comparison to the young magnolia tree to the left.
Webster said her neighbor first alerted her that the plant’s bloom stalk had suddenly shot up from the base, and over the past several days, its progress has picked up steadily.
In this May 17 photo, the plant showed signs of imminent bloom. It looked much the same on May 29 as the remnants of Subtropical Storm Alberto passed through Central Alabama, except it was leaning forward much more and the bloom was starting to open.
This kind of plant, though it may feel like it takes a century to bloom, actually reaches full growth in as few as about 20 to 30 years, sometimes longer. No one can predict precisely when the plants will bloom. They flower once, then die.
According to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center online, the bloom stalk can range in height from about 12 to 25 feet tall, and it can generally bloom after about 10 years, however, multiple factors (rain, habitat, climatology, etc.) can affect the timing; and it may generally bloom around June or July. According to the USDA NRCS online, Agave Americana has yellow blooms.
A word of caution to anyone interested in placing a Century Plant in the yard: this is a huge plant that can take up a lot of space. The stalk grows very tall when it’s ready to bloom. Don’t plant it close to your house, as it might cause foundation problems later. The sturdy stalk is solid and very heavy. Consider its possible hazards to children and others who may walk near the base’s spiky points.