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Agave ‘Blue Flame’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Agave ‘Blue Flame’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal
Sap causes severe skin irritation

Agave potatorum

Butterfly Agave

Cacti and succulents


Sculptural succulents with rosettes of fleshy leaves. Impressive, sometimes colorful, flower stalk emerges from the rosette’s center looking something like a giant asparagus; some kinds produce clusters of flowers on side branches, while others have flowers packed along the stalk. After flowering—which may not occur for years—the foliage clump dies, usually leaving behind suckers that make new plants.

These plants shrivel from serious drought but plump up again with watering or rainfall. Provide good drainage. Species listed here are native to Mexico, except as noted.

Agave potatorum (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Agave potatorum (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Agave potatorum

Grows to 1–2 ft. high and 2–3 ft. wide, usually as a solitary rosette. Its short, broad, toothed, blue-gray leaves flare outward, giving a ruffled appearance. Each leaf is tipped with a distinctive, often twisted, reddish spine. Best in full sun. Needs regular water in desert, little to moderate water along coast. Fine choice for a large container.

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