Virtues: We love spider agave (Agave bracteosa) for its drought tolerance and striking architecture. A great choice for hot, dry climates and a fine container specimen elsewhere.
Common name: Spider agave, squid agave, candelabra agave
Botanical name: Agave bracteosa
Foliage: Long, narrow, tapered leaves originate at the center of the plant and arch out. Unlike some other agave plants, the leaves do not have toothed edges or sharp ends.
Flowers: Tiny creamy yellow flowers appear on an impressively tall spike once the plant reaches maturity (several years). After it flowers, the agave plant dies. Small sucker plants around the main plant survive, however, keeping the planting going.
Habit: Rosette-shaped evergreen succulent able to grow 2 to 4 feet tall and as wide, though it grows slowly and so is typically closer to 1 foot tall and wide. New leaves develop from the center of the plant. New plants (suckers) pop up from the base of the plant, making an expanding clump.
Season: Year-round, for foliage.
Origin: Cliffs and limestone canyon walls of northeastern Mexico.
Cultivation: Grow in full sun to part shade. Good drainage is crucial. Tolerates drought but tolerates moisture as well, as long as the soil is well drained. If you prefer to grow this agave as a single specimen rather than a clumped group, remove suckers as they appear. Propagate Agave bracteosa by rooting the suckers. USDA Zones 7b–10. Suitable for a pot where it is not hardy. Read about growing agave in pots.
Read tips on growing agaves in cold climates.
Image attribution: Stan Shebs. Image rights.
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