S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing
Variegated Smooth Agave
for the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Agave desmetiana ‘Variegata’
Variegated Smooth Agave desmetiana ‘Variegata’ Origins and Introduction:
Native to Mexico and cultivated for its beautiful variegate foliage and
architectural form. It has an upright arching leaf with a soft grey green center and a light creamy yellow
variegated margin. Agave desmetiana gets the ‘Smooth Agave’ name from the nearly non-existent marginal thorns
with a single reddish brown sharp tip at the end of each leaf.
Smaller than many Agave selections, the Variegated Smooth agave
reaches 2-3 feet high and 3-4 feet wide.
Although commonly called century plant, the life cycle from seed to bloom is said to
take a very long time in dry arid climates. When the bloom stalk of the Agave desmetiana ‘Variegata rises high
above the foliage at 10 ‘ it is quite the spectacular show.
Sun / Shade Exposure for Variegated Smooth Agave desmetiana ‘Variegata’:
– Variegated Smooth Agave can be planted in a full sun or a partially
shaded location in the Northeast Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscape.
Soil Preference of Agave Plants:
Agave plants will prefer extremely well draining soils that are comprised
mostly of sand. If you have clay soils or nice black dirt that grabs and holds water after rains here in
Northeast Florida it would be a good idea to relegate your Agave plantings to raised bed areas and decorative
Expect your Agave desmetiana ‘Variegata’ plants to reach 2-3 feet high
and 3-4 ft wide when fully grown. Smooth Agave are considered to be a fast growing selection
and will have suckers that are attached to the parent plant that can be left in place to form a cluster or
removed and planted into another location.
Agave are extremely drought tolerant as their foliage is a water storage unit for
the plant allowing it to survive periods of extreme drought unharmed.
Allow your agave plants to go unwatered during the winter months to
strengthen their defense against a hard freeze.
Care of Agave desmetiana ‘ Variegata’ in the Northeast Florida / Jacksonville and
St. Augustine Landscape:
– Plant into well drained soil that does not stay moist or wet long after
rains. In frequently moist or water logged soils consider building up a of sandy soil at least 6 inches above
grade and two to three feet wide to plant your Agave in.
– Agave make great container plantings as containers tend to dry out quickly
even with daily rains. Consider planting in a decorative container with drain holes that can be planted
into the ground with a minimum of one third to one half of the pot left above the existing soil level.
– Water once or twice a week during the establishment period after planting in the
garden from an S & J Nursery container.
– Mulch heavily to reduce weed growth under the foliage. Consider using a pre
emergent herbicide like Preen or placing a .5 – 1 inch layer of newspaper under the mulch around the plant
after installing your new Agave to inhibit the growth of weeds that may be hard to reach under the Agave
– Fertilize each spring with a well balanced plant food like Osmocote.