Hudson woman grows giant agaveKathy Miller of Hudson has a giant in her house ... a large agave plant she has nurtured for the past six years which is blooming for the first time.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Kathy Miller of Hudson has a giant in her house ... a large agave plant she has nurtured for the past six years which is blooming for the first time.
“We take it outside in the summer and bring it back inside when it gets cold,” said Miller, a petite 5-foot-1 who is dwarfed standing next to the plant that nearly reaches the 18-foot peak of the ceiling in the main part of her house.
“We took it downstairs earlier but the ceilings are only 10 feet high,” she said.
Miller believes the plant is monocarpic like many agave plants and will die after it is done blooming. She bought it at Linder’s but the greenhouse can’t identify it.
When in doubt, turn to the experts. The Star-Observer asked for help from the UW-River Falls Biology Department for help and sent along photographs of the unusual plant.
Associate Professor John Wheeler responded via e-mail last week.
“I think the plant in the photographs is agave stricta,” he said. The species has an un-branched inflorescence (flowering stalk) and is widely available in the nursery trade.”
“It is apparently cold-hardy and has been grown outdoors in England. The flowering stalk in the specimen is probably unnaturally tall if it flowered indoors. In nature (it is a native to Mexico) it grows in full sun and so the flowering stalk would be more compact and the flowers would be closer together. In nature, most agave species are pollinated by bats,” Wheeler said.
“A plant that normally grows in the full sun will often etiolate. Etiolation is the technical term for abnormal elongation in the dark or shade. So I would expect that the plant in Hudson looks a little different from how it might appear in nature,” he said.
“That being said, the plant in the photos is amazing and special. The person who grew this species to such a magnificent flowering in Hudson should be congratulated,” said Wheeler.