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Long-Living Plant Flowers for First, Last Time

Jul 15, 2016 08:44AM ● Published by Tori La Rue

It’s been eight years since the now 13-year-old Agave Americana plant found its home in Conservation Garden Park, and it’s now in bloom for the first and final time.

Gallery: Long-Living Plant Flowers for First, Last Time [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com


It’s been eight years since the now 13-year-old Agave Americana plant found its home in Conservation Garden Park, and it’s now in bloom for the first and final time.  

 Agave plants are known colloquially as century plants, because of their longevity. Each plant lives about 10 to 30 years, and flowers only once at the end of its life cycle.  

 “Even though it doesn’t take a full century, it sure feels like it,” Clifton Smith, garden manager, said.  

 Once in bloom, the green, spiky plant grows a tall stalk that spouts out yellow blossoms before dying for lack of energy, Smith said. The conservancy garden’s plant grew to be taller than 16 feet and towers over the surrounding specimens.  

 “In this area, there are not very many of these particular plants, so it’s quite a site,” Smith said. “It is fun to look at it and see an example of nature at work, so it’s a fun specimen for people to more check out.”  

 Although century plants are native to Utah, they are more common in hotter climates, Smith said. Each winter, his garden team covered the succulent plant. In March, they started to wonder why the plant was looking different under its covering. Upon removing the cover, they realized that the plant was generating a stalk.  

 The stalk grew through April and May before reaching its peak height in June. Smith said the plant will likely die in July or August, so people who would like to see the plant should soon head over to the garden at 8275 South 1300 West.  

 "It is just really impressive how such a small plant can have such a tall stalk," Annette King, a self-described amateur gardener, said as she gazed up at the century plant in the conservation garden.  

 Annette and her husband Jason King stumbled upon the flowering plant while taking a walk around the conservation garden, looking for plants they might add to their park strip. The couple said they come to the garden several times each year, so they'd seen the century plant many times but never in bloom.  

 "The sad thing with this is that it will grow for 10 years, and you just get this," Jason said pointing to the leaves jutting out of the bottom of the plant, "And then once you get this, then it dies, and then you have to start all over again," he continued referring to the plants lengthy stalk.   

 After century plants die, they generate tiny plants off to the side of the main stalk called pups. The garden staff plans to plant all the pups that are generated, Smith said. Although the current plant will soon be dead, the conservation garden park will have new agave blossoms to look forward to in the next 10 to 30 years.  

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