Scientific: Agave desmettiana
Common: smooth agave
Family: Asparagaceae (subfamily Agavoideae)
Origin: Highly cultivated for centuries, native populations of smooth agave are no longer are in existence. It is thought to have originated from tropical and subtropical eastern Mexico.

Pronounciation: A-GA-ve des-met-ti-A-na

Hardiness zones
USDA 9-10

Landscape Use: Strong accent, possible focal point for desert gardens; oasis and xeric landscape design themes. Great for use around desert and oasis ramadas, patios, and most any walkway. Often effectively used in mass or groups spaced at 5 to 6 feet on center.

Form & Character: Smooth agave is one of the 'soft' and 'people-friendly' agaves. It resembles a smaller more formal version of A. vilmoriniana (octopus agave) except for its proclivity to clump due to copious growth of basal offshoots.

Growth Habit: Smooth agave is a moderate grower ranging in height from 3 to 5 feet with equal spread. Smooth agave produces densely produces basal off shoots (short-stemmed rhizomes) and is monocarpic (individual rosettes die after flowering) like most other agaves in this genus.

Foliage/texture: Leaves are formed in regular rosette patterns, strap-shaped, succulent, deep green to 4 feet long. Leaves are usually recurved or reflexed and the margins are typically smooth but occassionaly have tiny spines. Leaves taper to a shorg, terminal tip that is reddish and about 1 inch long; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: After more than 8 years of age smooth agave will produce a thick, green, flower stalk with pale yellow flowers (1.5 inches long) after which the flowering plant dies (monocarpic habit), flower stalk grows vigorously and is very striking. The pale yellow flowers of smooth agave are massed on an 8 to 10 feet tall panicled flower stalk. Smooth agave can produce bulbils instead of mature fruit;which in time look quite interesting.

Seasonal color: None except when flowering in March to June

Temperature: Hardy to 27oF. In the colder parts fo the Phoenix basin, smooth agave will be partially to fully damaged by the cold every winter.

Light: Filtered is sun best. Great when grown under light, dappled shade.

Soil: Well-drained best

Watering: Apply only occasional water once established

Pruning: None

Propagation: Division of plentiful basal offshoots

Disease and pests: Root rot if soil is wet

Additional comments: This 'soft & friendly' agave is great for landscape spaces that adjoin paths, walkways, and patios. The cultivar 'Variegata' has striated yellow bands in the foliage and is striking, but needs full protection from western sun in Phoenix to survive.