Agaves have grayish-blue to bluish-green leaves and long spines at the tips. They are extremely drought tolerant, slow-growing, and propagate in dry and gravelly soils. These plants live between 10-25 years and produce a flower stalk of up to 15 feet tall. They can weigh around 500 pounds or even tons, and occupy a space of around 5 feet to 40 feet in diameter when fully grown.
Here are the 3 things you need to know before planting an agave:
First, agaves should be planted away from people. They have long spines that can be a safety concern to children and pets. A workaround if you already have an agave planted near a walkway or side street is to trim the spines at the tips of the leaves with garden clippers. Agave spines do not grow back after getting cut, and so you only need to worry about new growth as time passes by.
Second, agaves are very large when fully grown and should be planted with proper distance from existing structures. Walls and fences will eventually be pushed until one cracks or breaks. Agaves are deeply rooted and heavy plants. One should be mindful of how the area around the agave plant will be used. Is it just dead space, a property line, an area you do not want people to go to? Surely, one will not want to place an agave in front of one's front door if one plans to still keep using that front door. But we digress, because it is far too common to find professionals in the real world to not just do but even extensively plan exactly what we exhaustively described here not to do. Maybe due to the fact that it could unimaginable to think that a 3-gallon agave baby plant will eventually grow to become a 10 ft monster? Maybe.
Third, agaves must be planted far away from towering deciduous trees. Sometimes, we find agaves on areas they should not be planted on, like a sunny patch of land 15 feet away from a Live Oak Tree. Live Oaks are deciduous trees, and like all deciduous trees, they regularly shed leaves. These leaves tend to collect underneath the foliage of an agave plant. The leaves when left alone will retain moisture and become the perfect home for cockroaches, spiders, mosquitoes, snakes, and even rats. Agaves within the city limits should therefore be used sparingly and with utmost awareness of planting intentions and use of the vicinity.
Now, what do you do if you already have an existing agave planted in all the wrong places as described above?
We always recommend to transplant any plant if it is still small or can be transplanted safely. This, however, is rarely the case when it comes to agaves. The reason you are here is probably because your specific agave is already too large for a 3-man crew with a jack to lift. In this case, transplanting is worse than saving the plant. We are risking a lot to transplant an agave plant that is already 50/50 once lifted off the ground. In such cases, we recommend to remove the agave by cutting it down to small portions, and reusing, repurposing, and recycling the entire plant for other uses, like soap, antiseptic, or a much needed addition to your compost pile.