Interested in the Agave ovatifolia but worried about the upkeep? Don’t worry; it’s easy! You can grow this gorgeous plant in your home or garden and add a vibrant pop of color to any space.
Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-care-for plant for your home or an impressive addition to your outdoor garden, the Whale’s Tongue Agave is a safe bet. This guide will help you get started.
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About Agave ovatifolia
A native of Mexico, Agave ovatifolia is a beautiful plant that has become popular among gardeners in the United States. It’s most commonly known by the name Whale’s Tongue Agave in reference to the girth of its leaves.
Agave ovatifolia is an evergreen rosette-shaped succulent that produces thick, waxy leaves that grow up to 3 feet long and incredibly broad. The leaves are bluish-green with sharp, bent spines spread out along their edges. They end in a terminal spine that completes the look.
Agave ovatifolia rosettes remain small, never reaching more than 3 feet in height. As a result, these plants are suited for both indoor and outdoor cultivation.
Related Article: Different types of Agave succulents and their common varieties
|Botanical Name||Agave ovatifolia|
|Common Name||Whale’s Tongue Agave|
|Light||Full sun, Partial shade|
|Bloom color||Yellow, Green|
|Soil||Well-Drained, Loamy, Sandy|
Agave ovatifolia Care
This is an easy-to-care-for succulent, but it does require some special considerations. Agave ovatifolia is hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 11, making it suitable for outdoor cultivation in those regions.
The best place for the Agave ovatifolia is in full sun, though it can tolerate some shade. If your Agave receives too little light, its leaves will get pale and lose color.
If it’s getting too much sun, it risks sunburn.
The Agave ovatifolia prefers sandy soil that drains well. Mixing in some inorganic material (pumice, perlite) is best because this will help prevent soil from getting waterlogged.
Soil pH levels don’t really matter all that much, but it performs best when grown in mildly acidic soils (between 5.5 and 7).
The Agave ovatifolia needs to be watered deeply, but not frequently. Once established, you should start watering once a week during the summer and once a month during winter.
Overwatering causes root rot, the most common cause of death for the plant. The easiest to tell if your Agave needs water is to stick your finger about 2 inches into the soil. If it feels bone dry at that depth, then you should water it deeply.
Temperature and Humidity
The Agave ovatifolia can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but it prefers to be kept between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In warmer climates, it’s best to provide some shade during the hottest times of the day.
It is surprisingly frost-hardy down to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit but should be sheltered from any direct wind.
Humidity should be between 40% and 50%, which you can easily achieve without much effort.
Agave ovatifolia does not require fertilizer for healthy growth, though you can use a balanced fertilizer if you want to promote faster growth.
It is best to use sow-release fertilizers since they are better for the soil and do not contain any harsh chemicals or additives.
Fertilize in the spring when the plant first starts to enter its growing phase.
Pruning an agave is not often necessary. However, if you do need to prune it, the best time is during the plant’s dormant period in the winter or early spring. Just make sure there you do not accidentally damage any live leaves by mistake.
Potting and Repotting Agave ovatifolia
Agave ovatifolia should be repotted every few years. It is best to repot your Agave when it has outgrown its current container or if it has stopped growing.
You should also repot your Agave if you notice that the roots have filled up most of the soil in their current container and are starting to grow outside of it.
Wait for spring to repot your plant, as agaves are dormant during the winter.
How to Repot (Step-by-Step)
- Remove the plant from its pot. Take a trowel and gently remove all the soil from around the base of your Agave. Try not to disturb any roots.
- Clean the roots. Use a soft brush to wipe away any dirt from the roots.
- Remove any dead or damaged leaves.
- Gently place your Agave in its new pot and fill it with soil mix until it’s about one inch from the top.
- Use a watering can to water your plant thoroughly, making sure it all drains out immediately afterward.
Propagating Agave ovatifolia by Seeds (Step-by-Step)
Agave ovatifolia rarely offsets, and most gardeners need to look for alternatives to grow another plant from the mother plant. Seeds are a viable alternative if you can get your hands on them. To propagate by seeds:
- Collect the seeds from the fruit of your Agave ovatifolia and store them in a cool, dry place until ready to be planted.
- Sow the seeds under a fine layer of soil in a pot filled with cactus soil or any other type of lightweight soil mix.
- Just keep the potting medium slightly moist (not soggy), and place it in a warm area free from direct sunlight. The Agave seeds will germinate within a few weeks.
- When the plants are large enough to handle, transplant them into larger pots or your garden bed (depending on space).
Agave ovatifolia is monocarpic, which means that it will bloom only once in its lifetime. When the Agave is ready to bloom, it will send up a tall stalk (15 feet) with bright yellow and green flowers at the top.
Blooming only occurs after the plant has matured for over 15 years, more likely 20.
Unlike most Agave, this one doesn’t produce offsets to continue the culture. You will have to propagate by seeds.
Agave ovatifolia is mildly toxic. The plant sap irritates the skin and mucous membranes, especially if you come into contact with it for a long time.
NOTE: This page is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. The toxicity of an ingested substance varies depending on the amount ingested, the animal’s weight, and its sensitivity to specific allergens. Contact your veterinarian or local animal poison control center immediately if you think your pet may have ingested a toxic substance.
Agave snout weevil
The agave snout weevil is a common pest of this plant. They are small and black, with white antennae. They lay their young on the plant leaves, which hatch into larvae that eat holes in the leaves.
Treatment is usually with systemic insecticides.
Scale insects are small, hard bumps on the plant. They produce a secretion that attracts ants. You can scrape these off with your fingernail or use insecticidal soap to remove them.
Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails can be a problem, especially in warm weather. You can use traps or copper tape to reduce the population of these pests or catch them in the act.
- Placing under harsh sunlight
- Using poorly drained potting mediums
- Fertilizing during dormancy
Agave ovatifolia (Whale’s Tongue Agave): Best Way to Take Care Of (Video)