A Rare Century Plant Bloom


People from Raleigh neighborhoods are flocking to see an unexpected century plant bloom, much to Alan Tharp’s displeasure.

Century plants require many years to collect enough energy for a flower spike that can reach 30 feet tall. However, once they get this size, they tend to die, producing offspring known as pups that may take over their work.


Century plants thrive in their natural environment of dry climates with minimal rainfall yet require regular watering to succeed. When you water, ensure the soil is fully saturated. Avoid overwatering as century plant roots are susceptible to root rot.

Watering is essential during the spring and summer growing seasons, particularly if your soil has an optimal moisture content. While long, fleshy leaves are efficient at storing moisture, periodic deep watering sessions may still be required to ensure an ideal moisture balance in the soil.

Century plants are also sensitive to frost damage, so during the winter, they should be brought indoors to protect from freezing temperatures. Offering extra protection by covering them with cotton sheets or placing them near large rocks that retain heat can help safeguard leaves against frost damage and keep them at bay.

If your plant is situated in the ground and has established an ample root system, supplemental watering may not be necessary; however, containerized plants require regular supplemented irrigation for their health and success.

Century plants require frequent, deep irrigations with regular drying between sessions. Soil should be well-draining and rich with plant food; an ideal mix is leaf mold, pine needle soil, coarse sand, and bone meal, as they meet looseness requirements while providing ample moisture and nutrition to support plant life.

Variegated century plant varieties should be protected from direct sunlight during the summer, as prolonged exposure can cause its leaves to burn, which reduces chlorophyll production and alters the look of your century plant. If burnt areas appear on your century plant, move it to a shadier spot to protect its leaves. If some healthy roots remain after extensive root rot damage, these might still be transplanted into new containers; alternatively, “pups” produced at the base of the flower spike can also help propagate your century plant species!


A century plant can live for 25-30 years, hence its name. This long lifespan reflects how its flowers take decades to bloom; furthermore, pups from its flowers may also be propagated after flowering, and seeds may be spread by offshoots that develop post-flowering.

These plants thrive in dry, sandy conditions and can be grown indoors or outdoors. When keeping these plants indoors, use large pots with plenty of drainage holes to prevent soil saturation and root rot; water only when needed to avoid overwatering your plants.

Century plants are relatively easy to care for, yet can still be susceptible to various pests – particularly agave snout weevils, which damage the plant’s leaves, roots, and fruit. Regular applications of copper fungicide may help combat this pest problem.

Even though plants do not need fertilization during dormant autumn and winter periods, applying an evenly balanced liquid NPK fertilizer monthly is an excellent idea to promote healthy growth and avoid disease in plants. This will aid their overall well-being and keep conditions from developing.

Spring and summer are ideal for checking the century plant’s soil for signs of disease. Wilted or discolored plants could have root rot, proving fatal for their survival. If this occurs, roots must be extracted and sterilized using a solution of 1:1 bleach to water.

A century plant is an eye-catching sight, its long, branched flower spire typically adorned with pale yellow or white blossoms. Though they can be forced into bloom more rapidly with artificial means, most century plants take two to three decades to reach maturity – Being monocarpic means they only set seed after their blooming process is complete and then die shortly after setting basis themselves – therefore, gardeners should expect a long wait before witnessing this rare site!


Repotting is essential for Century plants as soil levels can deplete over time, needing additional room to spread their roots. Suitable container size will also help avoid overwatering issues that plague Century plants; too much water may lead to root rot and ultimately eradicate them.

Century plants require well-draining soil and can withstand drought conditions. Since they originated in arid environments, century plants need deep yet less frequent irrigation; this is especially important during the winter when less moisture evaporates through evaporation.

Summer months require increased watering frequency and amounts for optimal plant growth, while fertilizers should also be utilized during this period to entice mature specimens to bloom. Shade variegated Century plants to prevent direct sunlight from scorching their leaves.

Removing a Century plant from its old container provides the ideal opportunity to inspect its root ball and soil for signs of damage or rot, untangle any circling roots, and repot if necessary – significantly if its size has outgrown its current container.

Repotting plants immediately upon removal from their old containers will help prevent their roots from becoming damaged as they attempt to penetrate through their sides and become exposed. This will also protect their health in general.

Checking soil for signs of rotting is also an ideal opportunity to identify problems quickly before they can spread and kill your plant. If roots are decaying rapidly, an effective root fungicide should be applied immediately to kill any fungal growth in that area.

If the plant cannot reroot itself, it should be reduced to a low level before replanting in a fresh pot with well-draining soil. Propagation can also be achieved by extracting offsets known as pups, which grow at the base of flower spikes and then replanting them to start new plants.


The Century Plant lives up to its name by blooming only once during its entire 30-year lifespan, which makes for an extraordinary display when one does bloom. Rare in the southern United States, its stunning bloom is truly impressive; when one does appear, it creates awe-inspiring scenes. These vibrant yellow blooms don’t just look beautiful – they also serve practical functions such as rope and mat production!

Care of Century plants relies heavily on light. Originating in desert regions, they thrive best when given plenty of sunshine. A potted Century will often die indoors without enough sun; for optimal care, it should be placed near a window or sunroom in full sunlight if possible; otherwise, a shaded porch or sunroom might work just as well.

Watering is also essential. While these plants are relatively drought-tolerant, their performance improves significantly when given regular amounts of moisture. Be careful not to overwater; that can lead to root rot. When watering the plants, be sure to soak their soil thoroughly first before leaving it alone until completely dry before watering again.

Century plants don’t require fertilization but would benefit from receiving a small dose of liquid N-P-K fertilizer every month during their growing season. Furthermore, it would be best to report them yearly, as their roots can quickly outgrow their containers.

While most people associate Century plants with houseplants, they can also be planted outside in certain circumstances. Before doing so, however, you must understand your local climate thoroughly – these delicate flowers are highly susceptible to frost damage and should never be exposed to freezing temperatures if possible; heavy rainfall or flooding also renders these less suitable than their indoor counterparts for outdoor growing.