Scientific: Agave attenuata
Common: fox tail agave, spineless century plant
Family: Asparagaceae (subfamily Agavoideae)
Origin: mountainous regions of central Mexico

Pronounciation: A-GA-ve at-ten-u-A-ta

Hardiness zones
13 (with protection), 20-24
USDA 9 (with protection), 10-11

Landscape Use: Accent plant in entryways and atriums in Phoenix where protection for full exposure to the outdoor elements is provided, under shade of trees, poolside agave, very nice container plant.

Form & Character: Evergreen perennial, succulent, vigorously rosetting, soft, tropical.

Growth Habit: Clumps vigorously by producing many basal offshoots to 5 feet in height with equal to greater spread.

Foliage/texture: People friendly, broad soft leaves with an entire margin, succulent, grey green, tapering to flexible point (not rigid as with other agaves); medium coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Produces a tall 'foxtail' like complex flower structure; fruit multicarpulate, sometimes produces bulbils.

Seasonal color: None

Temperature: Foxtail agave is quite sensitive to temperatures below 50oF, frost and freeze intolerant.

Light: Mostly to full shade in Phoenix to full sun in southern California and south Florida and Hawaii.

Soil: Tolerant of all soil textures as long as the soil is well drained. This agave is moderately salt tolerant.

Watering: Regular supplemental water about every two weeks is best in Phoenix, but in southern California only very little to no supplemental water is needed. Supplemental water increases growth rate and eventual size.

Pruning: None required, except to remove basal offshoots.

Propagation: Division of basal offshoots.

Disease and pests: Agave snout weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus) will attack several agave species in the low desert of Arizona.

Additional comments: This is a very handsome, intermediate- to large-sized agave that requires full protection in Phoenix in order to survive because of its sensitivity to local extremes of heat and cold. In southern California coastal areas such as in Los Angeles, this is the agave of choice (where cool plants mingle with the stars). There are several named cultivars that are outstanding - I would seek them out if I lived along the Pacific coast in Santa Barbara, California, where this agave thrives. They include: 'Kara's Stripes' PP#19,444 (patented, wide yellow leaves edged with green margins), 'Nova' (glaucous foliage), and 'Raea's Gold' (bright yellow to chartreuse foliage depending on light intensity).

The wonderful cultivar 'Blue Flame' is able to grow well in Phoenix in mostly full sun. This is a hybrid cross between A. attenuata and Agave shawii that was selected by David Verity in the early 1960s at the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden on the campus of UCLA.