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You only die once, unless you are a mostly monocarpic agave*

Agaves are famously monocarpic. That is, after they flower, they die. Like a drone bee, once they have done all they can to reproduce, life's work is done.

Aloes, sometimes mistaken for Agaves, have quite different flowers and continue to live productive and often happy lives after flowering. (More of that in my prickly issue post a few years back.)

In flower at the moment in Kew's Princess of Wales Conservatory is Agave bracteosa, one of the smaller agaves but still with flowering spikes to nearly three metres tall. Its common name is the the Squid or Spider Agave, alluding to its thin, arched leaves.


Its natural home is the high desert country of northern Mexico, in the States of Coahuila and Nuevo León, where it presumably endures hot days but also some cool nights. It will grow outdoors in some parts of London but we chose to mollycoddle ours in the Princess of Wales Conservatory (Desert) Dry Zone.

Because the leaves have very tiny marginal teeth and no terminal spine, th…

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