Xeriscaping is a landscaping technique which utilizes native plants in order to reduce water use. One of the best xeriscaping cactus plans that you can use in Texas and other areas with a temperate climate is the blue agave plant, known by the scientific name of Agave tequilana. Other common names for this succulent are mezcal plant or maguey. The blue agave plant uses very little water and produces beautiful blue-green leaves on a plant they can reach a height of up to 12 feet or more. Another name for this beautiful plant, (one that is a bit of misnomer,) is the century plant. It was once believed that blue agave only bloomed once every century however this is not the case. In temperate areas with normal rainfall you can expect this succulent to bloom about once every 10 to 20 years. When they bloom they send out an amazingly beautiful stalk with flowers that can reach as high as 20 feet or more. These beautiful flowering stalks attract hummingbirds and butterflies due to the nectar they contain. Unfortunately when blue agave plants bloom, they also die. This fact shouldn't stop you from planting them however, since they are beautiful plants that also save water.
How To Grow Blue Agave Plants
Blue agave plants are extremely easy to grow. All that you need to get one started is to dig up one of the young cactus shoots that spread from rhizomes leading from the mother plant. This hardy desert succulent will grow in almost any kind of soil with minimal care. You don't need to water blue agave plants, since normal rainfall is usually enough for them to flourish. You should be aware however, that since the plant spreads through rhizomes, it can be very invasive. Therefore, if you want to contain it in a certain area, you'll have to dig a trench at least a couple of feet deep and place some kind of plastic barrier material in it to stop the roots from traveling. Another thing that you should be aware of before planting them is how the large flowering stalk will someday interact with overhead objects such as power lines and trees.
Little Known Facts About Blue Agave Plants
It is widely known that blue agave plants are used to make tequila. The leaves and roots of the plant are boiled and then fermented for this purpose at distilleries located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. However, most people that grow agave in their gardens don't know that they can harvest delicious agave nectar from the flowering stalk when it finally blooms. To harvest agave nectar you can hollow out a depression in the central stalk using a chisel or carving knife. (Getting past the dangerous spines to the central stalk is not easy, and requires caution.) Each night the depression that you create in the stalk will fill up with agave nectar, which Mexicans call "agua miel" or honey water. A mature plant can make up to half gallon of the sweet liquid each night. Another little-known fact about agaves is that they are home to a species of rare rhinoceros beetle that lives around the plant and under its leaves.
Agaves are one of the most perfect xeriscaping plants for Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California and other dry regions, not only for the water saving qualities possess, but for the beautiful, stately leaves and flowers they produce.