Agave, Caribbean, Century Plant, Mescal Agave, Narrowleaf Agave 'Marginata'

Agave angustifolia

Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Agave (a-GAH-vee) (Info)
Species: angustifolia (an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Marginata
Additional cultivar information:(aka Variegata)
View this plant in a garden


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage

Good Fall Color

This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:




24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Chartreuse (yellow-green)

Dark Purple/Black

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

From bulbils

This plant is monocarpic

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Eufaula, Alabama

Lillian, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama

Fountain Hills, Arizona

Meadview, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona(3 reports)

Bostonia, California

El Cerrito, California

Encino, California

Hidden Valley Lake, California

Irvine, California

Pomona, California

Reseda, California

San Dimas, California

San Leandro, California

Sun Valley, California

Valley Center, California

Yorba Linda, California

Boynton Beach, Florida

Brandon, Florida

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Miami, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida

Niceville, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Palm Coast, Florida

Patrick Afb, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida

Saint Augustine, Florida

Venice, Florida(2 reports)

Vero Beach, Florida

Weston, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Kealakekua, Hawaii

Lake Charles, Louisiana(2 reports)

Metairie, Louisiana

Vacherie, Louisiana

Kansas City, Missouri

Henderson, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Summerville, South Carolina

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

San Benito, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 31, 2018, DMichael from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

Agave angustifolia var. marginata is one of only a dozen or so Agave sp. that will perform well in Ft Lauderdale, FLs subtropical / tropical 10b climate, and is one of the most attractive Agave species which can be grown here.


On Feb 6, 2016, opal92nwf from Niceville, FL wrote:

I saw a beautiful specimen at a big box store in the houseplant section, I had to get it. Although from what research I did at the time I learned that it might not be cold hardy enough for my zone 8b. It thrived for a few years, and I would cover it when it would get into the low 20's and below.

It grew so fast. I would literally watch multiple leaves open from the center within weeks. I started out with one single, main plant, but very soon after, multiple little ones started sprouting up all over the place, even as far as 2 or 3 feet away. This would seem to be a bane for a lot of gardeners, but I actually thought it was neat: being a sign that the plant was as happy and healthy as ever.

From what I could tell, it would withstand at the lowest mid 20's wit... read more


On Oct 29, 2015, MikeRath from Austin, TX wrote:

I have raised Agave angustifolia 'Marginata' plants for about 7 years. I have found them very easy to take care of. They are not invasive if you take the time to separate the pups from the mother plant. You need to use thick leather gloves and a long sleeved shirt when pruning or moving these plants and out of doors if they are potted. I am amazed how many people had the similar idea to prune their plants with a chainsaw. I've pruned mine with long pruners or even hand pruners with no issues. When I brought potted plants indoors for the winter I cut off all the razor sharp terminal spines beforehand. Sadly I have planted all 3 of our formerly potted 'Marginatas' outside knowing they will not survive Austin's occasional below freezing temperatures. My wife wants less houseplants and I have ... read more


On Nov 12, 2011, jerrytate from Lake Charles, LA wrote:

beautiful and fast growing.


On Oct 10, 2011, jerrytate from Lake Charles, LA wrote:

extremely fast growing and beautiful. here in s.w. louisiana, from a 4" big box purchase to a full 1x1 sphere with suckers in 7 months.


On Jun 5, 2011, sugarmae from Hancock, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I was watching the 1951 scifi movie, "the thing from another world", and it was mentioned that the century plant eats mice. Is this true?


On Nov 22, 2010, IMAMano from Scottsdale, AZ wrote:

Use caution when trimming or removing as the sap can cause considerable pain, itching and blistering when it gets on your skin as I learned two days ago.
After using a chain saw to remove and/or trim several plants my forearms began to itch causing me to rub them with the leather gloves I was wearing for protection from the sharp spines. My arms instantly began to burn in the worst way.
A combination of a shower, first-aid spray and Benedryl brought some relief but today both arms are covered in red blisters. Very unpleasant!


On May 16, 2010, TexasPuddyPrint from Edinburg, TX wrote:

This plant might be pretty to look at but I found out what a demon it is! Talk about the pain of hell and being on fire! YIKES!!! I had a friend cut back one that was growing in the back alley by my fence gate. I had no problem moving piling up the leaves but when I got the hose to rinse out the pole saw that debris splashed over my hands and arms. Talk about instant pain! My arms and hands were itching and burning! It felt 100 times worse than when you handle fiberglass! This reminds me getting zapped by an asp caterpillar!!!

I jumped into the shower and then applied some hydrocortisone cream. Relief at last!

It was only today that I googled for century plant allergies that I came upon the Dave's posts. Wish I'd known about it earlier!!! I had no id... read more


On Apr 14, 2010, portorangeflorida from Port Orange, FL wrote:

I didn't know anything about this plant before I tried to prune it with a chainsaw. What a mistake. My legs and stomach were covered with an instant burn and soon after red and blisters. I have looked and looked for some answers to help ease the pain and a remedy but not much luck other than 4 weeks to heal. Any help or information would be greatly appreciated. I live in the Daytona Beach, Florida area.


On Oct 26, 2009, rancherrich from Austin, TX wrote:

I have Agaves in my front yard and at my ranch where i am cultivating them for sale. I actually really like the plants. They are easy to grow and maintain. Beware of Agave beetles, however. They can devastate a stand of plants in a matter of days! I found only one place in the US that sells the granules that will kill the beetles and it was in PA of all places.
Caution: do not "trim" the leaves with a chainsaw unless you are covered from head to toe. I used a chainsaw to trim some leaves that were posing a potential hazard to pedestrians in front of my home and the sap got on my arms (the only uncovered part of my body) and within 10 minutes my arms were ON FIRE! I scrubbed thoroghly, took some Benadryl and still got a few small blisters. According to the Internet, the sap ... read more


On Dec 26, 2008, mikey51h from Palm Coast, FL wrote:

This plant will grow just about anywhere there is at least 5 hours of full sun and in a relatively dry location with good drainedge, growing at a moderate rate to about 3-4 feet high and about the same in width when fully mature. It will do well if applied with a well balanced fertilizer (12-12-12) 1 to 2 times per month during the spring and summer. Cold tolerant down to about 30. Will send out pups for easy propagation. I find this to be an exceptional decorative and ornamental plant. However, the only downfall is its spines and very sharp leaf tips. Some people find the sap to be toxic. Use care and caution when handling and transplanting. Thick leatherpalm gloves up to the elbow is a good choice.


On Mar 19, 2008, jckristafer from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Agave is a beautiful plant, but be careful! My mother recently cut some down with a chain saw, only to find that that she is very allergic to its juice. Some splattered on her legs and very quickly it began to burn, and eventually blistered.


On Sep 23, 2007, nme from Annandale, VA wrote:

I was born and raised in a house where this plant grew. Our soil was lakebed sand. This plant grew behind our carport for the 18 years I lived there and grew to about 10-12'. It was a very pretty plant, but you really had to respect it. The spines are very sharp, as well as the edges of the leaves. The sap is also very smelly.

When I was 18, after living with this plant my entire life, suddenly a stalk shot up from the center of the plant, growing 30' high in a few weeks! A few more weeks, and we had 30' high flowers towering over our carport. On of the most spectacular things I have ever seen from a plant in my life.

A few months later, the plant died and sprouted several pups.


On May 3, 2005, cacti_lover from Henderson, NV (Zone 9b) wrote:

I don't seem to have problems with this plant either. It grew quite fast in the past three years, but only produced two pups. I cut one out to plant in another area, but it was slow to react. It can get frost-bitten, but usually recovers if the damage is not too extensive. I had another planted on my front yard that died due to freezing temperatures, so they are not very cold hardy. Still, they are beautiful plants that seem to behave well in my yard.


On Jan 26, 2005, ForrestGump from Melbourne, FL wrote:

I think this plant is fascinating. The little suckers are easy to pull up from the ground by hand, roots and all. Just stick them in the ground somewhere and they will take root. I usually don't even water the suckers after ripping them from the ground, and they STILL take root and grow - even in sand. When God designed this plant, He really designed a tough one.


On Aug 26, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have had no problems with this being invasive here in zone 9a. Don't know about other zones. It grows slower than some of my other agaves. Handsome looking plant.


On Jul 11, 2004, TucsonJen from Tucson, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

The one at my old house finally bloomed, died, and tipped over. It was glorious. It produced only a handful of adjacent offspring which were easily transplanted to our outer desert or given to friends. Removing the dead plant was a chore due to its size but we had no problem with it beyond the exercise involved. We've planted a new one by the pool at our new home and it's quite dramatic. It has already produced offspring right next to it that I will move out a to a bare patch in the desert as soon as the monsoons loosen up the soil for me. I'm actually happy to see them! My husband and I are not allergic to the sap, thank goodness!

I hadn't known to worry about it spreading into the rest of the cactus garden and I'm hoping its roots won't tunnel out of its confined a... read more


On Jul 5, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Beautiful plant. Seems to be well behaved. The ones I've seen & the one in my yard don't seem to be invading anything.


On Jun 11, 2004, acbgallery from Austin, TX wrote:

This plant is a horror. I live in Texas and planted the century plant not knowing what a big mistake this was. It has spread and I tried to chop it and the sap gave me a severe allergic skin reaction and difficulty breathing. I want it out of my garden as I have a toddler but having not much luck. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated. I have two palm trees next to it so I don't want to kill them by spraying any chemicals. Is there any way to inject the plant or any other way to rid of it and kill it once and for all? Uprooting it is very very difficult. I have been searching the internet for answers over weeks, this plant is deadly.


On Apr 23, 2004, amorning1 from Islamorada, FL wrote:

Getting impaled by the spines are extremely painfull.

I dig a hole , insert a big clay pot and then bury, this will contain this demon, this method also works well with snake plant aka mothers in law's tounge.


On Nov 1, 2003, Vero191 from Lillian, AL wrote:

This agave has spread all over and I agree it will come up near the base of other plants and it's hard to remove..I also thought it was a pretty agave but didn't know the growth habits of the plant. Lesson learned find out the growth habits of a plant before planting it.....I must admit it is a pretty agave...and hard to resist if you see it at a nursery


On Aug 19, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This was a cute little Agave I bought at a local succulent sale one year- attractive, slightly spiny at the time and had a nice variegation. Nothing was told to me about its growth habit. Be careful where you plant this thing- it will spread everywhere. I was beginning to discover that nearly all Agaves suckered profusely, and becoming less enchanted with them as they began to take over the cactus garden - limited somewhat on space, even though I did have over 500 species of plants in it.

I was already battling the Agave americana I had planted that was spreading out of control, but this species is far more insidious. Its roots travel quite a distance- up to 10-12' from the mother plant and shoot up everywhere little spiny offspring. They love to grow right out o... read more