How to Grow the Century Plant in the Coastal Bend - The Bend Magazine

How to Grow the Century Plant in the Coastal Bend

Facts about the century plant and tips on how to grow this giant succulent in the Coastal Bend.

Century plant top view

Top View of Century Plant | Photo by Cissy Beasley

Natural wonders hold a special place in the hearts of many Americans. This is evidenced by enduring efforts to preserve and protect the natural world with park designations and wildlife conservation throughout our nation. 

This is especially true of Texans. We love nothing more than to boast to our out-of-state friends about the majesty and grandeur of Texas’ natural beauty. 

There is one overlooked Texas gem that is truly awe-inspiring and somehow left off of murals, postage stamps and country songs: the century plant. It transforms from an unassuming agave into a 20-foot-tall tree-like plant that you might find in a Dr. Seuss book. If you happen upon this magnificent Texas treasure, you simply can’t help but stop and take in the splendor.

Despite its name, on average, it will take a century plant around 20 years to bloom. As it nears the end of its life, a towering, half-foot-wide stalk is thrust into the air from the middle of the plant—picture a giant asparagus emerging from the ground with enormous leaves surrounding it like a banana peel. It will grow upward several inches daily and after a remarkable flower display, the century plant dies. 

But out of death comes new life; while it was marching toward its dramatic show, resources were being used to make new plants, also known as “pups.” These pups pop up as new plants that will surround the old one to keep the life cycle going. 

Century plant in the coastal bend
20-foot-tall Century Plant | Photo by Cissy Beasly 


Gardener’s Notes

Growing Up

You’ll want to give this giant succulent room to stretch out. Spacing, 8’ to 10.’ Height, 4’ to 6.’ Provide a stage for the show by avoiding planting under a tree or structure; the flower tower can reach 20’ or more. Century plant is low maintenance, so little to no pruning is necessary. Harvest the pups to replant elsewhere or give them away as gifts. Few pests threaten the century plant as long as it’s healthy. 


Century plant requires some consideration and planning. This succulent has spiky, teeth-like edges along the leaves and each leaf comes to a sharp point. Although striking, these plants tell us, “Look but don’t touch.” Like most succulents, century plant’s heat tolerance is incredibly well adapted to our warm climate and it will do just fine even in our worst summer conditions. It prefers full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil. Water sparingly to avoid root rot.

Fun Facts

A captivating drone video was shot in 2022 of a century plant in bloom near our home in Bee County. The footage captures pollinators of all kinds jumping at the opportunity. Like a remote mountain seemingly creating its own weather, the century plant suddenly became an elevated oasis buffet with a flurry of activity and beauty. Special thanks to Cissy Beasley for capturing and editing the footage.

Outside of your plant family, keep yourself healthy too. Check out what an expert had to say on the benefits of juice cleanses in our newest print article.