Agave Attenuata Care – ‘Foxtail Agave’

Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata is a slow-growing succulent that reaches maturity at approximately 12 feet tall and wide. It can be found in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Belize. A mature plant has a rosette of fat leaves with sharp teeth on the margins. The flowers are yellow, orange, or red and they grow from the center of a panicle on an 18-30 inch tall stalk.

The leaves are poisonous to humans in large doses because they contain compounds that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps if ingested. The plant is very common but it grows slowly so harvesting for food production must be done carefully!

Agave attenuata is an Agavaceae that grows in the Mexican highlands and can reach up to ten feet tall. The leaves are gray-green in color with a serrated edge, while flowers range from white to yellow. It prefers dry soil and has low water needs. This plant does not have any known pests or diseases, so it is an easy plant to grow.

Origin and description of Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata is native to the desert areas of central Mexico, in particular on slopes and rocky outcroppings that have a dry climate with little water availability. It’s also found at higher elevations, up into the mountains where there are some rainshadows which can be very cold for much of the year.

This agave is different from the “typical” agave that we always see in our yards and gardens, which are more commonly Agave americana or Agave tequilana – this variety has been called a monotypic species (a single-species genus) because it doesn’t resemble other members of the agave family.

The agave attenuata is a long-lived species, living up to 50 years in nature and able to be grown inside as well – it’s one of the most hardy plants of its kind. It features white flowers that bloom in April or May for two weeks, they’re pollinated by flies such as Hermetia illucens, which are attracted by the plant’s sweet nectar.

How to propagate agave attenuate ‘foxtail agave’

Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata is not typically grown from seed, but rather cloned. Plant material for cloning can be taken by cutting a healthy plant with at least four leaves and its root system intact in the late winter or early spring. The cut should ideally come from near the base of the agave’s trunk. It should then be immediately potted in a container with well-drained soil.

Specimens can also be propagated by taking a cutting from an existing agave plant and rooting it with some well-drained soil mixture, such as half sand and peat moss (or other potting mixes). They will also need a well-lit location that is shielded from the wind for two to three years before being planted in more permanent locations.

The rooted plants will continue to need water for about six months before they are watered by their own root system.

General care for Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata

Light requirements

Agave attenuata is sun-loving. It needs full, uninterrupted sunlight to thrive. If it does not get enough sunlight, the leaves will turn yellow and fall off as they slowly die back from neglect.

You will want to place this plant in a sunny garden or an area outside where it can get plenty of sunlight. If your climate is one that has cold winters, you may need to move the Agave attenuata inside for the winter months so they don’t die from lack of light and exposure.

Soil/potting mix

Agave attenuata does not have many specific requirements for its soil. It needs to be well-drained and fertile, but other than that it can grow in most soils. If the Agave attenuata is planted in a pot or container, you will want to make sure there are some drainage holes on the bottom of it so excess water does not stay and rot the roots of your plant.

The soil should be moist but never wet – your plant may suffer if too much water is present in its pot or container.


Watering should be done about once a week.

The leaves on your plant will tell you if it is thirsty – if the leaves start wilting, they are telling you that they need water more often than before. If this happens, don’t wait one or two days before you water them again! It’s better for them to get watered a little more often than the once-a-week they need rather than to wait too long.


In order to grow a healthy agave attenuata, you need to fertilize the plant. Agaves generally do not require heavy fertilizer; they are native plants that evolved in deserts where the natural conditions were very low nutrient levels. However, if yours is planted on a lawn (or other areas with high nitrogen concentrations), it will benefit from supplemental fertilization.

You will need to fertilize in the early spring and again in mid-summer – as new growth starts up, you can fertilize one time every six weeks until autumn arrives. Add a balanced fertilizer such as 25-20-15 (the nitrogen is higher than what agaves typically require) at the rate of 20 pounds per 100 square feet.


The Agave attenuata species is a succulent plant that can withstand extreme temperatures. They are known to grow and thrive in areas with temperatures up to 107-118 degrees Fahrenheit (42-48 Celsius).

Agave attenuata plants have been noted for their ability to tolerate very high heat, which makes them an ideal candidate for desert landscapes.


The ideal humidity for an Agave attenuata is between 50% and 65%.


Agave attenuata

The care of an Agave attenuata is very easy because they have a tendency to grow in the shape that you place them. You only need to prune if it outgrows its space. Pruning should be done at least once a year on all succulents and cacti plants.

When to repot?

The best time for most plants is in early spring when they are still dormant. This means that you should wait from March until May before deciding to re-pot your Agave plant. Ideally, it will be dark and cool outside which makes an excellent environment for the plant to start growing.

What are some benefits of repotting?

Repotting your Agave will help it grow stronger and healthier while increasing its lifespan. It also encourages new growth as well as preventing root rot and other problems. If you do not repot, then your soil may become compacted or the plant may be stunted and not grow properly.

The most important thing to remember is that repotting should never be done in the fall, as this will lead to a dormant period for your Agave attenuata. You can always wait until next spring if you want it to become accustomed to its new environment before putting it outside again.

What are the disadvantages?

The main disadvantage of repotting is that it can be hard on your plant. In order to prevent this, you should only do so every two or three years and make sure to water well after each repotting.

Hardiness zone

Agaves are perennials, and are cold-hardy to USDA zone 11.

Pests and diseases

When it comes to pests and diseases, there are a few that can be harmful to your Agave attenuata. The most common of these is root rot, which often occurs because the plant has been over-watered or not watered at all.

There are also some less common issues – powdery mildew and mealybugs may attack your plant, but these can be treated with the right kind of fungicide.

Insects are another issue you might face if your plant is in a garden or other area where there are pest problems. These include caterpillars and slugs which will eat away at the leaves, making them turn brown and wither up.

The best defense is to use organic pest control. This includes using a natural pesticide, which will kill the pests on contact and ensure they don’t return or come back in other areas of your garden.