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Glendale Public Library
Xeriscape Demonstration Garden Information Sheet

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Agave colorata-Mescal Cenizo

Agave colorata is a small to medium-sized plant, growing to 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. Its striking powder blue-gray leaves are relatively short and broad, measuring 1.5 - 2.5 feet long and 7 inches wide at the widest point. The leaves have intricate bud prints on both sides from the teeth and terminal spine of the leaves both above and below. The leaf edges are heavily toothed with dark brown teeth and a 2 inch long terminal spine.

A 10 foot tall panicle with bright yellow flowers appears in late spring and early summer. The flowering stalk signals the end of that plant’s life cycle, although Agave colorata does produce offsets that will continue to grow after the flowering plant has died.

There are two forms of Agave colorata in cultivation. One is smaller, about 2.5 feet high and 2.5 feet wide. Its individual leaves are nearly spoon shaped, 1.5 feet long and very broad towards the end. The other form is larger, growing to 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. Its leaves are more swordshaped, measuring 2.5 feet long and not noticeably wider anywhere along their length. If possible, look for the form with shorter, spoon shaped leaves, as it is the most compact and attractive.

The flowers will attract hummingbirds, but the plants may take about 15 years to flower.  Native to Sonora, Mexico, this plant is reliably cold hardy to 15° F. It has a slow to moderate growth rate, and thrives in full sun and reflected heat exposures. It also works in coastal areas, provided that drainage is excellent.  Great in pots or in the landscape.

© Webmaster & Author George Hull Last Updated August 10, 2003