Agave attenuata is a perennial succulent native to Mexico. The plant is also known as the Fox Tail and the Lion’s Tail because of the tall, flowering stalk it produces resembling an animal’s tail.
The Attenuata Agave grows well as both a houseplant and outdoors in the garden.
Agave Attenuata Appearance
The Attenuata Agave plant is evergreen with a rosette growth habit. New offsets grow outward from the central mother plant.
The plant grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet tall (61cm to 0.9 meters) and 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters). The leaves are thick and fleshy, growing 5 to 6 inches wide (12 to 15 cm).
Blooming only occurs on the Agave Attenuata after the plant is at least 10 years old. The small flowers grow in clusters at the end of a long, thick stalk called a raceme.
When the flowers die off, a seed pod grows in its place making propagation by seed easy.
Light Requirements for Agave Attenuata
Provide your plant with either full sun or partial shade. A spot near a South-facing window works well. If moving the plant from partial shade to full sun, allow the plant to acclimate to its new location. Expose the plant to two or three hours per day, then gradually increase the hours.
Watering Your Attenuata Agave
The Agave plant is drought tolerant and survives well without water for periods of time. A lack of water will cause the leaves to shrivel, but the foliage will revive after the plant is watered. Still, the plant prefers regular watering. Water your plant thoroughly once per week in the spring and summer. As temperatures begin to cool, decrease waterings. In the winter, water the plant sparingly only to keep it hydrated. Avoid getting water on the leaves when watering and never let the plant sit in water as crown or root rot may develop.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
The Agave Attenuata requires a sandy, well-draining soil. Add some small gravel to improve drainage if needed. Don’t grow the plant in a deep pot as the root system is shallow and doesn’t require the extra depth. Feed your plant with balanced, liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once per month. Follow this feeding schedule throughout the spring and summer months and withhold fertilizer in the fall and winter.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
Average household temperatures are sufficient for the Attenuata Agave plant. As the plant is not frost tolerant, avoid temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). As with most succulent plants, keep humidity levels low to avoid fungus or rot issues.
Propagating the Agave Attenuata
The two methods of propagating Attenuata Agave are by seed and by offsets, also known as pups. After blooming, the mother plant begins to die off so propagation is recommended.
To propagate the plant by seeds, choose clean containers with drip holes at the bottom. Fill the pots with a sterilized seed starting mix. To sterilize your own soil, create a mixture of 50 percent sand or perlite with 50 percent sphagnum moss or coco coir. Spread the soil onto a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes. Allow the soil to cool before using.
Scatter seeds collected from the plant’s seed pods onto the surface of the soil and cover the seed with a thin layer of soil. Fill a drip tray or sheet pan with distilled water and set the pots into the water. Allow the soil in the pots to soak up the water until the soil is evenly moist to the surface. Remove the pots and allow excess moisture to drain out. Cover the container with plastic wrap to retain moisture and set the pots in temperatures between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 21 degrees Celsius). Provide bright, indirect sunlight. Mist the soil to keep it moist but not soggy. Sprouts will appear in 14 to 21 days. When the sprouts have grown two to three leaves, they are ready to be transplanted to their own pot.
To propagate by pups, choose a well-developed offset with a stalk large enough to hold several leaves. Wear gloves to avoid injury from the sharp spines of the plant and avoid contact with the mildly toxic sap. Use a sharp and sterile knife to cut along the spines of the offset with straight cuts. Expose the healthy leaves and remove any old or dying foliage. Cut the offset from the mother plant and allow it to sit for several days to form a callous. Fill a pot with a succulent soil mixture and plant the pup into the soil. Ensure the crown is sitting above the soil’s surface to avoid crown rot. Water the plant to settle the soil and remove any air pockets. Place the pot in a warm location with bright, indirect sunlight. Leave the plant alone until new growth begins, then care for it as a mature plant.
Common Pests and Diseases of Agave Attenuata
Brown soft scale is a common pest among many houseplant varieties. The insects are approximately 1/8th of an inch long (4 to 5 mm) with long, oval-shaped bodies. The pest’s color ranges from a yellow-green to yellow-brown and are found on the stems and leaves of infested plants. The pests are female and lay eggs on the plant, which become crawlers that move and infest other areas. As the scale feeds on the plant, they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. This secretion often turns into black, sooty mold which causes further damage. To treat your Attenuata Agave from soft scale, use an insecticidal soap recommended for house plants. Multiple applications may be needed to rid the plant of the pests.
Crown rot and root rot result from overwatering your plant. Soil with a constant, high moisture content develops fungus, which rots the crown and roots of the plant. Younger plants are more susceptible, with the first sign presenting as yellow or red leaves. Rot is difficult to reverse, so the best course of action is prevention. Use a well-draining soil and do not overwater your plant. If rot is present, cut away any affected roots or portions of the crown. Repot your Agave Attenuata in a clean pot with fresh soil. Remove as much of the old, infected soil from the plant as possible before repotting.
The Agave Attenuata is an impressive house plant that rewards its growers with lush foliage and eye-catching blooms. The plant’s care needs are like most succulents, with emphasis placed on correct watering and temperature control. Add this plant to your home or garden for years of enjoyment.
Agave Attenuata FAQ
Repot your plant every two years, even if it has not outgrown its current pot, to refresh the soil and provide new nutrients.
This Agave grows well in USDA zones 10 to 12. Those in other climates may move their plant outside during the warm, summer months, but only if nighttime temperatures remain well above 50 F (10 C).
Yes, the plant’s sap is considered mildly toxic if ingested or comes into contact with skin. It is recommended to keep the plant away from pets and small children.
Agave Attenuata variegata is similar to the Agave Attenuata with the exception of its leaf color. The foliage of the variegata plant features creamy-yellow variegation along with the main, greenish-gray leaf color.
The plant has a slow growth rate and will take between 10 to 20 years to mature.