Coming from the arid regions of Arizona and New Mexico, Agave Parryi [a-GAH-vee, PAIR-ree-eye] is a slow-growing succulent plant with a rosette of grey-green leaves.
The plant may reach close to 3’ feet in diameter, but most household plants stay a bit smaller.
It’s a compact succulent needing lots of sunshine.
The plant has a couple of common names:
- Parry’s agave
- Mescal agave
The popular plant gained the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
It’s a short-lived plant, dying out after it produces its bright yellow blooms from the top of a 12’ foot flower stalk.
Agave Parryi Care
Size and Growth
Agave parryi has a rosette with grey-green leaves.
The tips and edges of the leaves feature sharp spines.
It’s an evergreen, with leaves remaining year-round.
In the right conditions, it may reach up to 2’ feet tall with a spread of 3’ feet.
Flowering and Fragrance
When it matures, the mescal agave produces a 12’ foot flower stalk.
After the bright yellow flower blooms, the plant begins to wither and die.
It requires all the nutrients and energy the plant stores to produce the flower.
Luckily, it rarely flowers.
The typical agave parryi flowers after about 10 to 15 years.
Some varieties take up to 30 years to flower.
In the time leading up to the blossom, the plant will also likely produce quite a few offsets or suckers near the base.
Light and Temperature
These plants tolerate cold better compared to most succulents.
In USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10, agave parryi grows well outdoors year-round.
Even in cooler regions, bring the plant outdoors for the summer.
Just ensure temperatures don’t drop below 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C) at night.
It needs bright to full sun and grows best in temperatures between 70° – 90° degrees Fahrenheit (21° – 32° C).
If kept indoors, place it near a sunny window.
Watering and Feeding
This succulent can last without water for a while, making it easy to overwater.
Thoroughly water the soil and then allow it to mostly dry before watering again.
Liquid fertilizer helps younger plants grow a little faster, but isn’t necessary for mature plants.
Use a liquid fertilizer when watering the plant during the warmer months.
Don’t fertilize at all during the winter.
Soil and Transplanting
Use commercial cactus soil or create a mixture using equal parts regular potting soil, sand, and peat moss.
The plant grows slowly and doesn’t need repotting frequently.
Every four or five years, repot agave parryi to freshen the soil.
Move to a larger pot if needed.
TIP: Always wear gardening gloves and long sleeves when transplanting or handling the plant.
The sharp spines may poke the skin.
Grooming isn’t necessary.
The plant grows evergreen leaves rarely exceeding 2’ – 3’ feet and only flowers once during its lifetime.
How to Propagate Parry’s agave
Propagate with the offsets appearing around the base of the plant.
To avoid receiving a cut, remember to wear gardening gloves.
- Carefully dig up the soil around the offsets.
- A fleshy root connects the bottom of the offset to the mother plant.
- Use the tip of a shovel to cut the root and then lift the offset.
- Plant the offsets in individual containers with sandy soil or commercial cactus mix.
- Water sparingly and don’t transplant until they grow roots.
Propagating in the early spring should give the plants time to take root before the summer heat.
It’s also possible to propagate from seed.
Collect the seeds from the pods appearing after the plant flowers.
NOTE: As mentioned, it may take 10 to 15 years or longer for the plant to bloom and produce the seed pod.
Start the seeds indoors in seed trays using sandy or gravelly soil.
Water thoroughly and then don’t water again until the seedlings sprout.
When the plants reach several inches, after about two to three months of growth, transplant them to individual pots or containers.
Mescal agave Pests or Disease Problems
Agave parryi doesn’t suffer from any major insect or disease issues, but slugs or snails may damage the foliage when planted outdoors.
Agave weevil may also become a threat to outdoor plants in the Southwestern US.
To keep these pests away, spray the leaves with an insecticide.
The ingredients should deter critters from using the plant as their home.
Root rot is one of the main concerns for the plant.
As a succulent, agave parryi doesn’t need a lot of water.
Overwatering or poor drainage leads to rot.
If the rot is widespread, toss the plant and attempt to propagate using the offsets.
For minor rot, trim away the infected areas and repot the plant in soil with better drainage.
Suggested Agave Parryi Uses
Agave parryi looks great as a ground cover in the dry southwest or as container plants in regions where the plant isn’t winter hardy.