Blue Agave Care
Blue Agave Care Overview
Caring for blue agave, Agave tequilana, is very easy and makes a great houseplant. It can be grown outdoors in warm, arid climates especially in Jalisco, Mexico where it is used as the main ingredient in tequila. Blue agave requires little water or fertilizer, but needs plenty of sun. Shady, cool areas can cause the agave to be unsightly and health problems may easily arise.
Sunlight, water, soil, and fertilizer requirements are easy to meet. Be careful when handling blue agave! The succulent leaves have sharp points on the ends that can easily draw blood when mishandled.
Indigenous Region for Blue Agave
Blue agave is heavily grown in and around Jalisco for making tequila.
Sunlight and Temperature Requirements
Blue agave plants love the sun due to being indigenous to regions of Mexico. Blue agave can be in sunlight during the entirety of the day, including 5 to 6 or so hours of direct sunlight. Agave should be planted in a bright, open area outside or next to a window that receives light during most of the day. Insufficient light can cause elongated leaves that may appear unsightly. Move the plant closer to the light source to correct elongated leaves. Cool, shady areas are apt to cause disease among blue agave.
Agave can handle regular temperatures into the 90 degree Fahrenheit range. Summer temperatures should stay between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while winter temperatures should never drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Dormancy will occur once temperatures fall and remain below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Soil for Blue Agave
Blue agave do well in soil that has good drainage. Inadequate drainage and waterlogged soil can easily lead to disease and root rot. A cacti soil blend can be purchased at most garden centers, but these blends are not always optimal. Commercial mixes usually retain too much moisture for agave. Simply mixing 2 parts regular potting soil with 1 part coarse sand/perlite will work just fine. Blue agave, like most cacti, do not need soil that is packed with nutrients. The native regions of blue agave have poor, sandy soils. A little fertilizer can be added over time to keep growth steady, but fertilizing is covered below in another section.
Watering Blue Agave
As stated above, the blue agave is native to hot, arid regions and watering is relatively infrequent. Over-watering is one of the most common killers of cacti and succulents, along with many other types of plants as well. Most of the soil should be left to dry out before watering occurs, at least the upper half of soil. This lets the roots dry a little and prevent rotting.
Judge When to Water by Weight
Sticking a finger into the soil to feel for moisture is never the best method to check for moisture. Judging by the weight of the container is much more accurate. Lift the container before it is watered and is relatively dry to get an idea of the "dry" weight of the plant, soil, and container. Lift the container after a thorough watering and get a feel for the "wet" weight. It may take a few waterings before figuring out dry versus wet weight. This method can be done with just about every container grown plant.
Remember to always water thoroughly. Water dripping out of the bottom of a container is not the best indicator of thorough watering. Most of the time water is simply running down a gap between the soil and the inside of the container, because the soil has become dry and hard. Break up crusty soil with a fork before watering to allow water to reach the base of the root zone.
Fertilizing Blue Agave
Fertilize only a few times during the growing season, and do not fertilize if the agave enters dormancy. Water soluble fertilizer and granules can be used when fertilizing blue agave. A balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer does just fine. Remember to only use half of the package's listed amount. Cacti fertilizer is also available for purchase in most garden centers. Cacti fertilizer generally contains less nutrients compared to houseplant and garden fertilizer, which helps to prevent fertilizer burns from occurring. Fertilizer burns cause the edges of leaves to discolor and the roots to sustain damage. Too much fertilizer can easily kill agave.