Common in hot and dry areas, century plants and agave are stunning. They are easy to grow and display beautiful blossoms at the end of their lifecycle. But, is there a difference between a century plant vs agave? What does each of these plants look like?
Keep on reading to discover more about a century plant vs agave.
Is There A Difference Between Century Plant vs Agave?
All Century plants are a type of Agave, but not all Agave are Century Plants.
When most people think of agave, they picture tequila since it is one of the main ingredients. However, agave has a lot of uses. Interestingly, agave is just a genus of plants with about 200 different types. One of the most common types of agave is the Century Plant. The Century Plant is better known as Agave Americana or American Aloe. Although its nickname contains the word ‘aloe,’ Century Plant is not an aloe.
In other words, all Century plants are a type of agave, but not all Agave are Century Plants. Instead, Century plants are unique as they live between 10 to 30 years and are about 6 to 10 feet long. It prefers hot and dry areas and is native to Mexico and parts of Texas. However, it has adapted well and can be grown in Africa, China, Thailand, the Canary Islands, and the West Indies. Century Plants have long, thick grey-green leaves that contain a syrupy sweet sugar, sometimes fermented to make alcohol.
Is Blue Agave the same as Century Plant?
While Blue Agave is a type of agave, it is not the same as Century Plant. Instead, Blue Agave is used for making tequila. It is native to specific states in Mexico, including Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, and Aguascalientes. Blue Agave grows in high altitudes, sometimes exceeding 5,000 feet. These beautiful plants produce flowers that resemble trees. When they blossom, hummingbirds and greater long-nosed bats pollinate the flowers, producing thousands of seeds. The flowers are a vibrant yellow and reach tall. Century Plants similarly grow tall stocks of clustered flowers right before it dies.
How to Use Century Plant (Agave)
Century Plants are not just for decoration; they are also highly nutritious and made up of fiber. You can roast, boil, and consume the stalks and leaves. Actually, agave syrup and sweeteners are made up of a natural smooth syrup within the flower stalks. While Century Plant is not used for tequila, you can make pulque, a popular alcoholic beverage in South and Central America. Although most people don’t know this, you can also grind the seeds of the Century Plant and add them to soups and other dishes to thicken. It acts similarly to flour. These plants are also sometimes used for medicinal purposes as they have been harvested for thousands of years.
Tips and Tricks on Growing Century Plant vs Agave
It is more common to see century plants and other types of agave growing in the wild. However, you can still grow agave at home with a few special tips and tricks. The tips and tricks are listed below.
- Agave requires at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.
- Low humidity levels are ideal for growing agave.
- Unlike other plants, you don’t need to feed your Century Plant fertilizer as this will trigger blossoms, leading to a quicker death.
- To propagate Century Plants, it is easier to take an offset and plan it in a container with well-draining soil.
- These plants do better in the ground compared to in containers.
- You should only water lightly and infrequently as it can lead to root rot, wilting the leaves and killing the plant.
Fun and Interesting Facts about Century Plants and Agave
- Despite the large differences in their appearances, Agave plants are related to lilies, amaryllis, and tulips. Sometimes they are all grown together.
- They are succulents.
- Once, a large blue agave grew a 30-foot stock and blossomed in a greenhouse, prompting the owner to create a hole in 2006.
- Some people use a special tool called the coa to strip the leaves from the plant.
- The heart of the agave is called the pina. This is used to make sweeteners and alcohol like tequila.
- Agave is a great sugar substitute for people who have diabetes.
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