a huge cactus that has a spike coming out of it.

by lauren lewis
(vista, ca)

Our cactus or succulent was planted fifteen years ago and has grown to be a massive plant in our back yard. Just recently it started to grow a spike out of the middle. Everyday the spike grows at least a foot or two. I am curious to see why this is happening and what is it going to be ?

Drought Smart Plants reply: Hi Lauren, even without a picture I can tell you that this will be the event of a lifetime!

Your Agave, which this most likely is, is starting its bloom cycle. They are called Century Plant because of this, as they take a long time to reach the size they have to be before they flower.

In some cases the flower spike will reach twenty or thirty feet tall - yes, that's not a typo!

Depending on the species and how big and healthy it is, the flower spike will soon tower over you.

Sadly, this means the end of the plant, which are known as 'monocarpic' or 'once flowering'. If they follow the usual pattern, they will have produced some pups at the base of the mother rosette to take her place.

Enjoy the show!


See this post by another visitor about their very cool succulent that grows to over 23 feet.

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Mar 13, 2015
century plant
by: Linda

Our leaves on our century plant are turning black and dying back, should we cut them off. Some are only half way back the branch. They do not look healthy at all. Is there something we can do for them. We just moved to South Carolina from Pa. and don't know anything about taking care of them.

Mar 13, 2015
No Idea...
by: Jacki

I don't really know what your conditions have been in South Carolina.

If you've had cold temperatures, the leaves will certainly take a hit, even if it's not actually below freezing.

You can cut them off, but some people recommend waiting until you see new growth before doing this.

In your drives around town, maybe check if there are any other similar plants and see if they are doing the same thing. If so, then this is probably typical of what plants in your area do.

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