Agave plants are most commonly known as “Century Plants”, mainly because after many years of growth that finally leads to a flowering stalk growing to reach 20 or more feet tall that is capped with a spreading flurry of white flowers at the top. Agave mother plants after dying form a cluster of small plants at the base of the hard, stiff, erect leaves. Most of these xeriscape plants come from the desert where they grow prolifically with no attention required to maintain their drought resistant, tough woody, succulent body. Some of these unearthly agave forms are round and symmetrical but tend to grow into strange, weird shapes. Many agaves are cold hardy enough to withstand frost damage, and many northern gardeners choose to plant them in containers that can be grown inside during the winter.
All the fleshy parts of some agave species are edible. The leaves, flowers, roots and flower stalk, and the juices that contain sugars can be fermented into alcoholic drinks, as in the Agave tequila. Agave plants can be used as an ornamental landscape plants by some gardeners, and most agaves can be containerized and grown inside the home or office. The fleshy succulent leaves can be damaged by frost, although the Century Plant agaves will survive below freezing temperatures. The leaf colors of agaves can normally grow into various shades of green, gray or variegated, and the rare variegated leaf combinations can contain yellow or white stripes that can occur on leaf edges or as a mid-stripe.