Agaves are succulent plants that are popular both as landscape plants and as houseplants that are grown indoors. There are over 200 species of Agave varying in size from small to extremely large.
You can grow Agaves easily since these plants require very little care and are both drought tolerant and cold tolerant. After all, most of them originate from the desert regions of South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Most Agaves only flower once in their lifetime and then the plant dies. Luckily, Agaves are grown for their spectacular form rather than for their flowers. There are so many different types to choose from that, as a collector, you’re unlikely to run out of new species to grow.
Here’s a selection of the most popular Agaves grown by succulent lovers.
1. Agave americana (Century Plant)
This species of Agave has blue-green succulent leaves that have sharp saw-toothed spines around the edges of the leaves and on the tips. This species is great as a landscape plant as it can grow quite large.
Agave Americana is also perfectly happy in a pot and would look great on a veranda or deck surrounded by smaller growing varieties.
2. Agave victoriae-reginae (Royal Agave)
This is a much smaller Agave. It only grows about 12 to 18 inches tall. It has upright fleshy leaves that have a black tip. The leaves tend to curl inwards creating that lovely rosette shape.
The leaves may also have an interesting white border.
This is another good specimen for planting into containers or it can be useful as an edging plant in the garden as well. This Agave will take around 20 to 30 years to flower. The flowers form on a 15-foot stalk and are either cream-colored or reddish-purple.
3. Agave filifera (Thread Leaf Agave)
This Agave gets its name from the white thread filaments that grow on the edges of the leaves. The leaves are dark green with bronze around the tip. The edges of the leaves are white.
Agave filifera can grow to about 2 feet high with a spread of about 3 feet. When you see it, you could imagine those “threads” being used by the native people for different “sewing” projects.
4. Agave attenuata (Foxtail Agave)
This Agave makes a very attractive landscape plant but is also suitable for growing in containers. It has lovely, soft fleshy leaves that curl slightly inward.
Agave attenuata is spineless so it’s great for areas that get a lot of traffic such as near the front door or on the patio. It can grow to about 4 or 5 feet high.
This species is also available in a variegated form – Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’. The blue-gray leaves have a lovely creamy center stripe. This Agave variety is frost-tender so it should be protected if you live in a colder climate.
5. Agave tequilana (Blue Agave)
You guessed it! This is the plant that is used to make tequila. But, the nectar needs to have careful distilling and heat treatment to make it safe to consume. Agave nectar in its untreated form is actually quite toxic.
Nevertheless, Agave tequilana is a great landscape plant as long as you have rich, well-drained sandy soil. The plant itself grows quite large and can live for hundreds of years.
6. Agave parryi (Artichoke Agave)
With the common name of Artichoke Agave, you would expect this plant to have sharp spines and it does. The tips of the leaves are like tiny spears. The leaves themselves are bluish-gray and broader than other Agave species.
This Agave is sun-loving and makes a great container plant. Just beware of those spines.
7. Agave desmettiana (Smooth Agave)
As the name would suggest, Agave desmettiana does not have any spines. Instead, the leaves are bright green and slightly curved. This Agave would look great planted en masse along a border in the garden.
It also makes the perfect container plant thanks to its absence of spines. Propagating this plant is really easy because it produces masses of “pups” or baby plants at its base.
This variety is also available in a variegated form – Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’. It only grows to around 3 feet in diameter and the dark green leaves are framed with a yellow stripe around the edges. This variety prefers to grow in dappled shade rather than full sun.
8. Agave geminiflora (Twin Flower Agave or Pincushion Agave)
This is a nice smaller growing Agave with masses of thinner leaves that form a lovely rosette. The leaves are dark green with white threads or filaments around the edges and sharp spines on the ends.
The plant is quite compact and dense. It’s also super easy to grow in containers.
9. Agave vilmoriniana (Octopus Agave)
The leaves of this Agave resemble the tentacles of an octopus, hence its common name. They are a soft green in color and curl outwards. The plant grows around 3 to 4 feet high and spreads to around 5 to 6 feet.
The terminal spines on this plant are quite soft rather than sharp, so it’s ideal for planting in high traffic areas. It can take around 10 years for this plant to bloom but it will produce bulbils along its flower stalk so that you can propagate them.
10. Agave potatorum (Butterfly Agave)
This lovely Agave has wide leaves that resemble the wings of a butterfly. They are arranged in the common rosette shape of most Agaves and are blue-gray in color. The spines that surround the leaf edges and the tip are almost red in color.
As this is a slow growing Agave, it’s ideal for planting in a container. It only grows to about 2 feet in diameter and is quite hardy and drought-tolerant.
11. Agave angustifolia (Caribbean Agave)
Agave Angustifolia is a variegated Agave with narrow leaves arranged in a rosette. It grows to about 4 feet wide and spreads to 4 feet. Due to its symmetrical shape, it makes an excellent landscaping plant but would also grow well in a container.
The leaves are pale green with white margins. However, the leaves do have very sharp spines on the tips so care must be taken when considering where to place this plant. When it flowers, the flowers are fragrant and the plant produces tiny bulbils along the flower stalk.
12. Agave ovatifolia (Whale Tongue Agave)
This is quite a striking Agave with very wide, pale green leaves arranged on a rosette. This Agave is cold tolerant and very easy to grow.
The leaves are very fleshy but they have large, sharp spines on the ends and smaller spines around the edges of each leaf.
13. Agave macroacantha (Black-Spined Agave)
This Agave has narrower, thick blue-gray leaves arranged in a rosette. The leaves have 1 inch long black spines at the tip. This plant is a sun-lover and produces multiple offsets at the base.
When it flowers, the flowers are small and purplish-green in color. If you don’t mind the sharp spines, this Agave is ideal for container growing as it only grows to around 1 and a half feet tall and wide.
14. Agave bracteosa (Squid Agave)
This interesting Agave has narrow, long leaves that curl outwards. The plant is drought-tolerant and slow-growing. It’s ideal for growing in containers but will grow happily in the garden as well.
15. Agave montana (Mountain Agave)
This is another attractive Agave that originates from high in the mountains of America. It has dark green wide leaves that curl slightly inward. The plant is cold-tolerant and can grow to a height of 4 feet with a spread of around 5 feet.
The white or brown spines that surround the leaves and are also found on the tip, gives this plant a distinct appearance. The leaves also have an interesting white imprint down the center of each leaf. This is created by the sharp spines pressing against each leaf as it forms.
Before it gets ready to flower, the leaves of this Agave will turn bright red. The flower stalk can grow to 15 feet tall and produces clusters of yellow blooms.
16. Agave titanota (Rancho Tambor Agave)
This is a smaller growing Agave that only grows to around 1 to 2 feet high with a spread of around 2 to 3 feet. The leaves are thick and fleshy in a pale green color.
There are spines all around the edges of the leaves and on the tips. The plant forms a lovely rosette shape and is ideal for container growing as long as you take care with the spines.
17. Agave salmiana ferox ‘Green Goblet’ (Ferocious Agave)
With a name like “Ferocious Agave” you would expect this plant to have very sharp spines and it does. The sharp spines grow around the edges of the leaves and also on the tip.
However, don’t let that deter you as this is an attractive plant with wide, fleshy dark green leaves symmetrically arranged in a rosette to form an urn-like structure.
The plant grows to around 4 feet high and spreads to around 3 feet. It’s quite cold-tolerant but likes to be kept dry during the winter.
18. Agave bovicornuta (Cowhorn Agave)
This Agave has glossy green leaves that are quite wide across their center but then curve around to form a sharp tip. The spines surround the edges of the leaf and are also on the tip. These are red in color.
Agave bovicornuta grows to about 3 feet high and can spread to around 4 feet wide.
19. Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave)
This is another interesting Agave that has wide pale green leaves with a paler green “stripe” down the center of each leaf. The leaves are ringed with spines and there’s also a sharp spine on the tip. These spines are brown or gray in color, giving this Agave an interesting look.
It’s a relatively small growing plant reaching a height of around 2 to 3 feet.
20. Agave ‘Blue Glow’
This Agave is a cross between A. ocahui and A. attenuata. It has attractive blue-gray leaves that are arranged in a symmetrical rosette. The leaves are fringed with yellow or red spines.
Like a lot of other Agave species, this plant will take around 10 years to mature and flower. In the meantime, it will grow to a height of 2 feet and will spread to about 3 feet. This makes it an ideal plant for growing in containers.
21. Agave stricta (Hedgehog Agave)
This Agave almost looks like the ponytail plant but without the tall trunk. It has masses of very narrow, dark green leaves arranged in a rosette shape. The tips of the leaves have sharp spines. The leaves are quite long and can reach a length of 1 foot.
When it flowers, the flower stalk can grow to about 6 feet high and will exhibit small red flowers.
22. Agave parviflora (Small Flower Agave)
This is one of the smallest Agaves. It only grows to about 8 inches in height and 8 inches in diameter. This makes an interesting container plant. It has dark green to reddish fleshy leaves that are arranged perfectly into a rosette.
The leaves also have white threads or filaments around the edges. The tips of the leaves have a sharp spine. The flowers are creamy yellow and are very attractive to pollinators such as bees.
23. Agave lophantha (Thorncrest Century Plant)
This is quite a striking specimen with attractive dark green leaves that are fringed by gray spines. The plant grows around 3 feet high and around 2 feet in diameter.
This species of Agave is cold-tolerant and can handle temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius).
24. Agave parrasana (Cabbage Head Agave)
This Agave has fleshy green leaves with sharp spines around the edges and on the tip. The leaves are blueish-gray in color. It grows to about 2 feet high and around 2 feet in diameter.
It will take around 10 years for the plant to mature and produce its flower spike. However, this spike can be about 20 feet high. The flowers start out as redbuds and then open to reveal yellow blooms. This plant will send out suckers, so you won’t lose the entire plant when it does eventually flower.
25. Agave chiapensis
The leaves on this Agave form an open rosette. They are fleshy and light green in color. There are dark brown spines around the edges of the leaves and on the tip.
When the plant flowers, it produces a flower stalk that can grow up to 6 feet tall. This Agave prefers a more tropical climate and will not tolerate frost.
26. Agave havardiana (Harvard Agave)
This is another Agave that is very cold-tolerant. It has thick fleshy leaves that are silver-gray in color. Like most Agaves, these leaves are arranged in a rosette. They have spines around their edges and also on the tip.
It can take around 10 years for this plant to mature and flower. The flower stalks can reach a height of 10 feet. The flowers are yellow and fragrant. This Agave is also drought-tolerant.
27. Agave mitis (Mitis Century Plant)
This is another Agave with no sharp spines. It has very attractive blue-green leaves that can curl outward at the tip. The leaves can easily grow up to 2 feet long.
28. Agave pumila (Dwarf Century Plant or Miniature Agave)
This Agave is said to be the smallest variety available and is very popular among collectors and enthusiasts. It’s quite easy to grow but a very slow grower.
This Agave has interesting blue-gray leaves that are almost cup-shaped when they fully open. They also have a slightly striped or spotted appearance. There are spines around the edges of the leaves and also on the tips.