Century plants known for long lives

By Cassie Gibbs cgibbs@southeastsun.com

Century plants known for long lives
When Donnie Bensenhauer noticed a unique plant in his front yard, he realized the plant from an old neighbor's yard was actually a century plant.He knew the myths that surrounded the plant, but he wasn't sure what was truth.Century plants are called century plants because they lived for "a long time," according to Lucy Edwards, home horticulture regional extension agent for the Alabama Extension Office.According to Edwards, the century plant comes from the agave family and is native to North America, Mexico and Central America. The flowers typically take around 10 years to bloom, which signifies the end of the plant's life.She said the plants have features that include a wide spike that comes from the center of the plant. The top of the plant branches out with pale yellow flowers, and the leaves at the bottom of the plant have "teeth."Though the plant does not live long after blooming, it does have a way of keeping itself alive."They'll basically propagate themselves," Edwards said. "They can multiply."The flower will produce shoots that, when planted, could produce more of the plants.Once it blooms, the century plant only lives for a few months. The plant is blooming when the spike in the center of the plant begins to grow.If a person is interested in planting a century plant, it needs room to "grow and thrive," Edwards said."They do like dry soil," she said.She also described the plant as being "low maintenance" in regards to care.For more information on century plants, contact the Dale County Extension Office at (334) 774- 2329.
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