Agave plant in bloom at D.C. Smith Greenhouse

A close-up of the individual blooms.

D.C. Smith Greenhouse staff were surprised back in March by the emergence of a flower stalk from a long-time greenhouse resident, an Agave victoriae-reginae. Now over 10-feet tall, the plant is in full bloom. Visitors are welcome to stop by and see it in the D.C. Smith Conservatory during regular building hours.

This particular agave specimen is older than its current home, but has never flowered before. When the D.C. Smith Greenhouse opened in 1996, the plant was already part of the Department of Horticulture teaching collection and more than a decade old. Former greenhouse manager John Mather estimates its age at 30-35 years.

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A recent photo of the flower stalk, showing its height.

These agave are native to the American southwest and typically grow for up to 40 years before blooming once and then dying. Other species have similar life cycles which have earned them the nickname “Century Plants.”

According to greenhouse manager Johanna Oosterwyk, the plant should continue flowering through the end of this week before its time is up.

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In March, the agave plant started to grow a flower stalk.