January Plant of the Month 2006 (Agave filifera compacta)

A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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January Plant of the Month 2006 (Agave filifera compacta)

Post by templegatejohn »

Agave filifera compacta Salm-Dyck


Growth Habits: The plant in the photograph is the ‘compact’ form of this species and remains relatively small. My plant (in photograph) is about 5in. (12 cm.) The normal sized plants grow in fairly dense rosettes of sword-like leaves with attractive white markings caused by the tightly furled leaves in the crown of the plant pressing against one another. The normal form of the plant can be up to 2 feet wide (60 cm), and approx. 18 inches tall (45 cm). It has the usual spines at the end of each leaf common to the Agave species and threads hang down from the edges of the leaves giving the plant a very attractive appearance.

Scientific name: Agave filifera ssp. filifera

Common names:
Thread-leaf Agave

Synonym: Agave filamentosa

Etymology: The word Agave, pronounced a-GAV-ay, is from the Greek agauos meaning admirable. Filifera means thread-bearing.

Origin: Mexico, mostly in the states of Hidalgo and San Luis Potosi.

Light: The plant will take full sun to light shade. But if the sun is very fierce it is recommended to have some form of temporary shading.

Compost: As with most Agaves this plant prefers a very open, free draining compost

Water: This plant will take plenty of water during the summer months, but prefers to be on the dry side in winter.

Flower: The mature rosettes bear a 6 feet tall spike carrying 2-inch flowers. The flowers themselves are green in colour gradually turning brownish as they age.

Fruit: Cannot find any information at the present time.

Min. temp: 50°F (10°C). Will take lower temperatures for short periods.

Cultivation: The plant is reasonably easy in cultivation and is often kept by non-succulent lovers as a normal house plant. It does not require any special treatment but if left dry too long in the summer months the tips of the leaves tend to go brown. It will also take a reasonable amount of fertiliser and this can be given at half strength every watering if desired. Most Agave's have quite a serious root system that consists mainly of fibrous roots. If the plant is not in a large enough pot these roots tend to grow in a circular motion around the bottom of the pot eventually forcing the plant up out of the pot. When they are repotted it is not uncommon to find a mass of roots and hardly any compost. This caused one well known cactophile to name them "compost eaters."

The plant is usually found growing at an altitude of 3,000-4,000 feet.

The compact form of many of the Agave’s give people with little spare room the chance to grow this spectacular genus, particularly those people who do not live in a climate where they can be grown outside all the year round. However as with many succulents it is not usually the cold that kills these plants but rain water getting into the crown of the plant and freezing. The stem of the flowering spike of these plants is used for rope and fibre. They are also the source of both tequila and pulque, the distilled and fermented drinks from Mexico.