Butterfly Agave

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Cactus and Succulent Garden

Butterfly Agave

​Agave potatorum

  • Common Name: Butterfly Agave (other common names: Agave Species, Butterfly Agave, Century Plant, Maguey, Papalometl)
  • Scientific Name: Agave potatorum
  • Family Name: Asparagaceae
  • Origin: Mexico
  • Height: 1’ – 2’
  • Width: 1’ – 2’
  • Growth: slow growing
  • Zone: 9B – 11B
  • Light Needs: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Salt Tolerance:  tolerant of salty air and soils
  • Soil/PH/Texture: use inorganic of coarse perlite, pumice, sphagnum peat or good compost (avoid manures). mildly acidic to mildly alkaline (pH 6.1 – 7.8)
  • Soil Moisture: if it is in a container, irrigate from below if possible, you can submerge the pot in water or let it soak up water from a dish underneath of the pot. Do not over water, they thrive on a little neglect.
  • Drought Tolerance: moderate
  • Pests/Diseases: no serious pests or diseases normally, virtually disease free, watch for scales and some rare infections include Anthracnose, root and crown rot and Phyllosticta pad spot which are caused by fungus spores that find a home on the agave plants.
  • Growing Conditions: easy to grow and low maintenance
  • Characteristics: this evergreen succulent is grown for its blue-green/gray foliage, its leaves form a symmetrical rosette that is up to 2’ by 3’ with leaves up to 18” in length. The flower spike can get up to 20’ long, with pale green-yellow flowers with red and subtended with red bracts.
  • Propagation: by stem cuttings, offsets, bulbils or by seed (collect the seed heads/pods when flowers die and allow to dry. This plant is monocarpic (it dies after it flowers).
  • Wildlife: attracts birds and hummingbirds
  • Facts: this succulent plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling because the juice can cause acute contact dermatitis that produces blistering and reddening that lasts about one to two weeks. Itching can recur up to a year later without even a visible rash.
  • Designer Considerations: use as an accent plant, in borders, rock, cactus or succulent gardens, great for xeriscaping and can work well as a container plant on your patio.