Agave plants are an excellent choice for gardeners who want to reassess their water-guzzling landscapes while adding beauty, structure, texture, and subtle color. Agaves thrive in the Southwest and Mediterranean climates. However, they are versatile and can be planted in pots outside their zones if winter shelter is provided.
This plant, or a genus of plants, is a succulent with long fleshy leaves that grow in a rosette configuration. This plant has flowers. However, they only bloom once every several years. Agave comes in a variety of varieties, each with slightly different properties. The plants’ stems are also exceedingly short and spherical and scarcely discernible.
These plants produce sap and have sharp edges on their leaves for protection. Furthermore, they tend to produce pups that can be used for propagation.
In the genus Agave, there are roughly 270 species. Some are used to make food goods like agave syrup or alcoholic beverages like mezcal and tequila.
Agaves are incredibly adaptable to their environment. Soils with a low clay percentage are ideal. Sand or rocky texture is possible. Well-drained soil is required in locations where there is a lot of rain. Agaves thrive in the warmer subtropical zones with seasonal dry periods (Zones 8 to 10). A few species native to the southwest United States and northern Mexico can withstand higher levels of heat and cold. Agave parryi can withstand temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit (Zone 5).
The Mediterranean climatic zones of California are ideal for growing the most varieties. On the other hand, many species will thrive in the desert Southwest. In addition, some plants can be grown in cold or wet places elsewhere if kept dry and well above freezing in the winter.
So, let’s move ahead and learn about the 20 different types of agaves and how to grow them in gardens and containers to boost your home’s curb appeal!
Table of Contents
Types of Agave Plants
#1. Octopus Agave
This Agave’s fleshy, outward-twisting leaves resemble tentacles, hence the common name octopus agave. This immense beauty’s pale green rosettes can grow up to 6 feet wide. There are no teeth and only one terminal spine to be concerned about. This Agave, like all agaves, dies after blooming at maturity (around ten years). So pot up the tiny plantlets it produces along with its blooms to keep yourself in an octopus’s garden for years to come.
#2. Twin Flowered Agave
The twin-flowered Agave, A. geminiflora, is a fascinating plant native to Mexico’s west coast. It grows in a rosette of 2- to 3-foot spaghetti-narrow green leaves with curly white filaments framing the edges. In containers, it functions admirably. In the summer, provide light shade in the hottest desert places.
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#3. Thread Agave
Another little specimen is the thread leaf agave, a 2-foot-wide dark green variety with white edges and fluffy white filaments that gives it its common name. A. filifera is a native of central Mexico that thrives in containers and the garden. Growing this agave plant is simple: it prefers to be ignored and reproduce by producing new small heads that can be left to spread or potted up to fill huge areas. But otherwise, this is a reasonably low-maintenance agave.
#4. Mountain Agave
This beautiful plant thrives at elevations of up to 9,000 feet in Mexico’s highland wilds, making it one of the most cold-tolerant Agave species. It reaches 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide and resembles a vast artichoke! The leaves are bud-printed, with impressions of the teeth of the adjacent leaves pressed into the leaves around them. The zigzag stick that runs down the midrib of each stiff-leaf results from this.
#5. Verschaffelt Agave
This plant, also known as Verschaffelt agave, is native to Mexico’s semi-desert regions between Puebla and Oaxaca. This beauty is small enough to fit in any garden, only 2 feet in diameter. Smaller agaves and red Echeveria contrast sharply with broad, blue-grey leaves with scarlet spine tips. Plant them in full sun in all but the hottest climes; they’re lovely in pots and robust enough for the harshest desert gardens.
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#6. Smooth ‘Variegata’
A. desmettiana, or smooth Agave, is a tiny agave with a graceful arching shape (3 feet in diameter at maturity). The leaves are light yellow-green to dark blue-green. Variegated varieties, such as the one seen, are incredibly coveted. This Agave thrives in dappled shade in the low desert rather than direct sunlight. This species is equally at home in huge containers on the ground.
#7. Ferocious Agave
With spines around the edges of the leaves and a powerful stinger at the tips, the fierce Agave (that’s what ‘ferox’ means) is well-armed. This example is a stunning urn-shaped plant with broad leaves that grow just 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, but others (like ‘Medio Picta’) can grow to double that size. This one can take a beating, but keep it dry in the winter.
#8. Bigthorn Agave
The spines at the apex of this plant’s leaves are a testament to the Agave’s name, which means “big thorn.” On the other hand, a little blue-grey Agave is a pleasant sight—the most are much more significant. This poky cutie-small pie’s 112-foot stature makes it ideal for containers, patios, and borders. This clump-forming Agave is native to Oaxaca and Puebla, giving it full sun unless you live in the warmest temperature.
#9. Lion’s Mane Agave
This Agave is known by many names, including lion’s tail, foxtail, and swan’s neck. Each term refers to the plant’s long, arching stem, which grows into a 5-foot-tall trunk from which the strapping, spineless leaves emerge. Others can be brilliant grey-blue, but this variation is pale green with creamy yellow stripes. This Agave enjoys moist, loamy soil, which makes it ideal for planting near a pool or beach. It is frost-sensitive, so keep it protected over the winter.
#10. Shaw’s Agave
This evergreen perennial succulent looks even better in the dusk and dawn light. In the sunlight, the grey spines on the edges of leaves take on lovely colors of coral, scarlet, gold, and pink. It can grow to be 2-3 feet tall.
#11. Cowhorn Agave
Agave bovicornuta is a perennial medium-sized, non-suckering plant with a short stem that forms a solitary light green, open rosette that typically grows wider than it grows tall, reaching a maximum height and width of 80-100 cm and 1.5-2 m, but is sometimes smaller. Its great size and bright green, attractive, widely lanceolate or spatulate leaves, which are 45-60 cm long and 10-15 cm wide, make it easy to spot. The most desirable varieties feature large spoon-shaped leaves with wickedly sharp teeth. After the plant reaches the age of 10-12 years, yellowish-green flowers bloom on a stalk up to 5-6 meters tall.
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#12. Spider Agave
Agave bracteosa is a solitary or clumping rosette known as “spider agave” or “squid agave.” Its succulent green leaves are long and lanceolate, 50-70 cm long, and 3-5 cm wide at the base, making it the smallest Agave. It grows in 1.2-meter-wide clusters. There are variegated varieties.
#13. Maguey Chamula
Agave chiapensis is a plant in the Agave genus. This plant is native to a few states in Mexico, although its spread is limited.
This plant is modest in size and has broad-shaped green leaves. The edges of these leaves bear spikes or fangs. The leaves commonly form a rosette when they grow together.
#14. Hardy Agave
Agave gentryi is a solitary medium-large sized agave ferociously spined along leaf margins and at the tip. It resembles Agave montana in appearance, and the gentryi and montana limits overlap; both are hardy and may be grown outdoors.
#15. Creme Brulee Agave
Agave guiengola is a fast-growing agave with a small number of soft succulent leaves. Its sculptural structure and unusually formed silvery-bluish leaves make it a unique statement in the landscape, and some collectors consider it the most spectacular giant Agave.
#16. Havard Agave
The acaulescent mid-sized Agave havardiana (Havard’s Century Plant) forms rosettes low to the ground, occasionally producing suckers but not establishing enormous colonies like some other species. Agave havardiana’s short, silver-grey to virtually white triangular leaves are up to 60 cm long, three to four times longer than wide, and have teeth along the margins and tip.
The succulent agave plant is the way to go if you’re searching for a vast succulent. They thrive for several decades, are lovely and distinctively colored, and withstand extreme weather. Agave succulent plants require little irrigation, may be grown indoors or out, and make great statement pieces in your landscape or home.
#17. Maguey Masparillo
Agave impressa is a unique tiny to medium-sized Agave with no close relatives. The symmetrical rosettes with spreading light green impressions that merge towards the leaf tip are beautifully characterized with individual pairs of white imprints. The leaves have blunt teeth and spines and are proportional. This plant is unlike any other species in the genus. The unbranched flower spike is 2 to 3 meters tall and has greenish-yellow flowers from tip to near base. It may be connected to Agave pedunculifera.
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#18. Agave Little Shark
The Agave Little Shark is a small, slow-growing hybrid of A. macroacantha and A. victoriae-reginae with fantastic symmetry. Steel blue-green leaves with black borders and tips grow in tight rosettes. The Agave Little Shark is ideal for collectors of unusual plants. It looks fantastic in pots or rock gardens’ nooks and crannies.
#19. Marbled Agave
Agave marmorata is a unique, mid-sized species with broad leaves normally non-suckering. It gets its name from the grey marble-like color and transverse zones that occasionally bar the leaves, especially on specimens growing in full sun.
#20. McKelvey’s Century Plant
Agave mckelveyana is a small, relatively rare dwarf Agave that forms a tight rosette similar to Agave deserti var. simplex in size and shape.
The succulent agave plant is the way to go if you’re searching for a vast succulent. They thrive for several decades, are lovely and distinctively colored, and withstand extreme weather. In addition, succulent agave plants require little irrigation, may be grown indoors or out, and make great statement pieces in your landscape or home.