Scientific: Agave sisalana
Common: sisal, sisal hemp
Family: Asparagaceae (subfamily Agavoideae)
Origin: eastern Mexico

Pronounciation: A-GA-ve si-sa-LAN-a

Hardiness zones
USDA 9-11

Landscape Use: Strong blue gray accent, focal point for desert gardens, xeric landscape design themes, rarely used in large tubs or containers, needs space to grow.

Form & Character: Broadly stiff and upright, sharp, dangerous, robust, imposing.

Growth Habit: Moderately raid to 8 feet tall with equal spread. Produces copious rhizomes that make a clump or thicket of basal off shoots, monocarpic.

Foliage/texture: Rosettes of elongated, blue green lanceolate leaves to 5 feet in length, tapering to a stout and sharp tip; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Flowers borne on a tall, long spike that can reach 20 feet in height. Individual flowers are many on a stalk and are urceolate yellow-green in color.

Seasonal color: None, except when flowering (usually after 7 to 10 years).

Temperature: In Phoenix, relatively cold sensitive, damaged below 28oF and killed below 23oF. Conversely, sisal is very heat tolerant.

Light: Full sun required.

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Apply only occasional water once established. It readily responds to water by increasing growth and eventual size.

Pruning: None, though one should clip the tips of leaves to lessen the danger of some unsuspecting person becoming a human shish-kabob.

Propagation: Seed or asexually by division of copious basal shoots from rhizomes.

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Sisal is best thought of as a tropical agave that is quite cold sensitive and can easily be damaged during the coldest time of most normal Phoenix winters. Otherwise, it is a striking and VERY dangerous agave that demands much space and respect in the landscape. The foliage contains stiff fibers that are used in developing countries to make rope.