Agave plant in bloom at D.C. Smith Greenhouse

D.C. Smith Greenhouse staff were surprised back in March by the emergence of a flower stalk from a long-time greenhouse resident, an Agave victoriae-reginae. Now over 10-feet tall, the plant is in full bloom. Visitors are welcome to stop by and see it in the D.C. Smith Conservatory during regular building hours.

This particular agave specimen is older than its current home, but has never flowered before. When the D.C. Smith Greenhouse opened in 1996, the plant was already part of the Department of Horticulture teaching collection and more than a decade old. Former greenhouse manager John Mather estimates its age at 30-35 years.

Agave vr 11

A recent photo of the flower stalk, showing its height.

These agave are native to the American southwest and typically grow for up to 40 years before blooming once and then dying. Other species have similar life cycles which have earned them the nickname “Century Plants.”

According to greenhouse manager Johanna Oosterwyk, the plant should continue flowering through the end of this week before its time is up.

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UW Family Gardening Day

Spring has sprung! Area gardeners are invited to celebrate the arrival of the gardening season—and gather a cornucopia of helpful ideas—at the UW Family Gardening Day on Saturday, May 9, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

The free, family-friendly event runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the university’s Allen Centennial Gardens, Steenbock Memorial Library, and D.C. Smith Instructional Greenhouse, where UW-Madison and UW-Extension experts and volunteers will be on hand to answer all kinds of questions about plants, soils, weeds and pests; offer advice and tips for gardens large and small; and host a variety of demonstrations and displays, including topics such as limited-space gardens, edible gardens and ergonomic tools for lifelong gardening.

For more, visit the UW Family Gardening Day Facebook Page and webpage.

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