Agave filifera is a succulent indigenous to the unforgiving landscape of Central Mexico. It is commonly known as Thread agave due to the thin, filament-like threads adorning the leaves. These ornamental threads serve to distinguish this species from countless others, earning it the valued Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
It is a slow-growing evergreen that typically reaches heights of about 3 feet, with a spread of 2 to 3 feet. The stiff, sword-like leaves form rosettes from the base of the plant; this is a stemless plant. This agave blooms once every 10 to 12 years, producing an impressive inflorescence borne on a long, thin stalk up to 10 feet tall. This typically happens only once in the lifetime of a plant and is a treat to behold.
Agave filifera Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Thread Agave, Thread-leaf Agave|
|Botanical Name||Agave filifera|
|Synonyms||Agave filamentosa, Agave pseudofilifera, Bonapartea filamentosa|
|Native Range||Central Mexico|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9 to 11|
|Mature Size||Height: 9-15 inches; Spread: 9-18 inches|
|Propagation methods||by offsets|
Agave filifera Care
Agave filifera is a forgiving succulent, perfect for beginners. While you’ll still need to care for them on occasion, you’ll still end up feeling that these plants practically grow themselves. Be mindful when pairing them with other plants, however, as an unintentional increase in humidity can cause stress to the plant.
Light and Location
Thread agaves prefer full sun but can also tolerate light shade. They are heat- and drought-tolerant plants, perfect for hot, dry climates. However, they will not do well in cold temperatures. Place them in a sunny spot, on a windowsill or patio, and the plant will love it.
Thread agaves do not require a lot of water. In fact, they are quite drought-tolerant. Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch and then water deeply. Ensure proper drainage channels are maintained so it does not become soggy. In winter, keep the soil barely moist as the plant enters dormancy.
Although Thread Agaves prefer warmer climates, they are incredibly hardy plants. They can tolerate temperatures ranging from 20 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you want to keep them happy, somewhere in the mid-50s is ideal.
As succulents, These agaves prefer dry air. They do not like high humidity and will rot in wet conditions. Average room conditions in most homes are acceptable; just don’t pair them with humidity-hungry plants.
Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer in spring to help your agave to get off to a good start. Feed again in midsummer if the plant looks like it needs it. Stop entirely in fall and winter, as the plant goes dormant at these times.
Although these agaves don’t require much pruning, you may need to trim off dead or damaged leaves occasionally. Use any sharp shear to do this. Prune only during the growing season.
Propagating Agave filifera
There is only one practical method for propagating Agave filifera, and it’s also quite easy. These plants naturally produce offsets or “pups” in the growing season, which conveniently multiply the plant, offering a ready opportunity for you to expand your garden. Typically, these offsets will begin to show when the plant is actively growing in spring and summer. Wait for them to reach a respectable height before separating them from the parent plant.
- Use a sharp knife to slice off offsets from the mother plant.
- Make sure each offset has a healthy root system attached.
- Allow the offset a few days of rest for the cut end to callus over.
- Replant in a well-drained soil mix, place the pot in a lightly shaded spot, and water well.
- The offset should take root in a couple of weeks.
Potting and Repotting Agave filifera
When potting your Thread Agave, there are a few things to be mindful of. For one, these plants like a relatively small pot, so pick one on the smaller side, to begin with. And ensure the presence of a drainage hole at the bottom so the soil can dry out between waterings. Next, use any potting soil mix that drains well; you can get premade succulent mixtures from any gardening store. Then, water sparingly until the plant becomes established in its new pot.
Agave filifera likes to be pot-bound, so don’t repot unless needed. Repotting is only necessary when you see roots grow out of the pot and peek out through drainage holes. This typically takes a few years. When it happens, replant it in a container one size larger. Wait until the plant is actively growing in spring or summer before repotting.
The sap of the Agave filifera is mildly toxic and can cause skin irritation. So, take care when handling this plant and avoid getting the sap on your skin. Also, note that the leaves end in sharp needle points that can easily injure pets.
Thread agaves are generally pest and disease-free, but scale insects and the occasional weevil can attack them. Treat your plant with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap if your plant gets infested. If the problem persists, seek the help of a professional.