Agave Montana [a-GAH-vee, MON-tah-nuh] is an evergreen perennial succulent from the Agave plant family Asparagaceae and native to northeastern Mexico.
The plant is called Montana (the Spanish word for mountains) because, in its natural habitat, it grows on the mountains, as high as up to 9,000’ feet.
It is known by the common name of:
- Mountain agave
- Hardy Century plant
The growth of Agave Montana in high mountains is also the reason why it remained undiscovered for a long time.
It has only been a little over a decade that the plant was discovered and brought to cultivation.
Agave Montana Care
Size & Growth
Unlike many types of succulent plants, agave Montana grows quite large.
On average, it reaches the height of 4’ feet and spreads up to 5’ feet.
It is a solitary plant, meaning it doesn’t produce offshoots.
In its natural habitat, this agave species generally grows as an understory plant in oak and pine forests.
The plant features short, broad, upright, and fleshy leaves with a thick and firm terminal spine and brownish-red colored large teeth along the margins.
On their lower surfaces, the leaves carry imprints of the teeth of previous outer leaf-buds.
The leaves are apple green to deep green in color and form a dense rosette as they grow, giving the plant the appearance of a large artichoke.
Learn more about the Artichoke Agave – Agave parryi
NOTE: The Montana Agave is a close relative of Agave gentryi.
Flowering and Fragrance
Flowering is seldom – most mature plants only flower once in their lifetime.
But, when the plant does produce flowers, an asparagus shoot emerges from its center and grows up to 12’ feet.
The shoot then produces 20 to 30 short branches on the sides.
Tightly packed clusters of bright yellow flowers emerge at the tips of these side branches.
The green leaves of this succulent agave species change color to shades of purple, red, or orange during bloom time. The plant dies after flowering.
Light & Temperature
Mountain agave is hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10 and grows at a slow to moderate rate.
This plant thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
When grown in hot desert gardens, the plant, in fact, appreciates some shade.
Also, since the plant naturally grows on high altitudes, it is a lot more tolerant of cold weather than any other agave species.
The plant can easily tolerate temperatures as low as 14° degrees Fahrenheit (-10° C).
However, when planted in houses, experts suggest providing a little protection to your Montana plant – bring the plant indoors or cover it with fleece.
A. Montana can survive in damp conditions.
Watering and Feeding
The water requirements of the mountain agave are not high.
Since it grows at high altitudes, it has the ability to tolerate drought.
When grown in pots or containers, water the plant actively during the growth period and feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer once every 3 to 4 weeks.
Soil & Transplanting
In its natural habitat, the plant grows in a variety of soils, from the soils rich in organic matter to the sites covered with thick layers of pine needles to the nutrient lacking poor soils.
However, it cannot survive in poorly drained soil.
The plant can tolerate acidic to neutral soil pH.
When planted in home gardens or pots, use a gravel-mix substrate and make sure the soil has good drainage.
Since this agave species doesn’t grow at a fast rate, it usually takes a very long time to outgrow the pot and doesn’t need frequent repotting.
Grooming and Maintenance
Growing and caring for A. Montana isn’t difficult; it continues to grow even if it is not cared for properly.
The plant also doesn’t need grooming. In fact, it doesn’t like to be disturbed.
How To Propagate Mountain Agave
Since mountain agave is a solitary plant, it can only be grown from seeds.
However, they aren’t widely available; again, because of their lesser cultivation.
If you are able to get your hands on the seeds of this agave species, sow them just like you do for any other succulent or agave plant.
Take a pot or a container with a hole in the bottom for drainage and fill it with a sterilized potting mix containing equal amounts of organic and inorganic material.
Scatter the seeds on the surface of the soil.
Since the seeds of A. Montana need light to germinate, cover them very lightly with soil.
Place the pot in a shallow, water-filled pan; the water should come to half the height of the pot containing seeds.
Let it stand till the soil is moist through and then remove.
Cover the pot with a plastic wrap, to maintain moisture, and place it in a warm place where it receives bright, but indirect sunlight.
The seeds typically start to germinate in 2 to 3 weeks.
Remove the plastic as the seedlings start appearing and transplant them to individual pots when they have about 2 to 3 leaves.
Meanwhile, water the seedling only sparingly – the key is to not let the soil completely dry out.
Mountain Agave Pest or Diseases
While mountain agave is not generally susceptible to diseases, it can develop chlorosis due to magnesium deficiency.
Also, it can be affected by scale insects.
The plant also attracts birds, hummingbirds in particular.
However, it is deer resistant.
Agave Montana Uses
The solitary rosette-forming plants are ideal for growing in decorative containers and as border accent plants in sunny locations.
They are also great choices for city gardens, Mediterranean gardens, succulent gardens, rock gardens, and beds and borders.
However, it is recommended to not plant them near walkways or pathways because the teeth on their leaves are needle-sharp and can injure both humans and pets.
The plant’s sap will also cause skin irritation.
Therefore, you should exercise caution and wear full clothes and protective gear when handling this agave species.