Agave stricta: Hedgehog agave

Family: Asparagaceae
Common name: Hedgehog agave, Hedgehog century plant, Rabo de leon, Century plant, Maguey

These beautiful sea urchin-like succulents growing in your garden will make your garden quite unique and interesting. Native to Mexico, these plants can grow to a height of 50 cms with thin, long, green leaves in large rosettes.

The leaf tips are reddish-brown in color and pointy like porcupine spines. So it’s better not to keep them near walkways or pavements. They grow well in rock gardens, along edges of gardens, or as thick strong borders that most animals will keep away from.

Hedgehog agave plants are long-lived, living for many years and producing many offsets that can replace the parent plant when it dies.

These plants grow slowly, filling a pot over a period of 3-5 years before it needs repotting. Agave plants are characterized by long leaves that are succulent, leathery and armed with spines or spiny tips. Flowering is also very unique. After many years of growth, the plant sends out long spikes towering above the plant, producing large inflorescences.

Hedgehog agaves also produce long spikes that are over 2 meters tall, with small purple-colored flowers. This is rare in potted garden plants and more likely to happen in plants growing in large areas or in the wild.

Since hedgehog agaves are resistant to drought, they are ideal plants for amateur gardeners. They thrive when neglected, and can go without water for many days.

They like good sunlight but can do well in poor soil or nutrition. Repotting should be done only when it’s absolutely necessary since Hedgehog agaves do not like to be disturbed from the soil they are growing in.

One of the popular variants are Agave stricta rubra also called as Red hedgehog agave, Purple hedgehog agave or Red needle agave. As the name suggests, this plant is characterized by red, narrow leaves very similar to Agave stricta, but slightly shorter. Agave Stricta Nana is the dwarf version which has green leaves very similar to Agave stricta, but is only half as tall and wide.

The name Agave comes from words that mean noble or illustrious, which is quite apt for these majestic plants that can transform your garden with their presence. Hedgehog agave plants have a very arresting appearance, filling pots or large areas with beautiful, spiny rosettes.

Most species of agaves are monocarpic, the parent plant dying after they flower. But Agave stricta plants are polycarpic, the parent plants live even after flowering, for many years. So if you live in a tropical country, make sure you get a Hedgehog agave in your garden.

Propagation is through offsets that grow from the parent plant. These little plants called pups, can be easily dislodged from the soil by slowly moving them back and forth.