The Agave family is filled with massive, beautiful succulents native to Mexico, and the Variegated Agave Butterfly is no different. Unlike most Agave plants, this succulent grows compact and is perfect as an indoor succulent. Plus, its hardy nature makes the Variegated Agave Butterfly the perfect plant for beginners– just follow these tips to help make your Agave Butterfly thrive.
Generally, the Variegated Agave Butterfly has similar needs to the other members of its family:
For light, you’ll want to keep your succulent in full sunshine. Unlike most succulents, the Agave takes longer to burn under direct sunlight, and while it can tolerate some shade, it’s best to let this plant get as much sun as possible. At least six hours of direct, sometimes filtered sunlight is best.
Like many other succulents, the Agave Butterfly doesn’t need much water– you should only water it once the soil feels completely dry to the touch. It’s also important to water deeply with this succulent, which you can do by setting up a bottom-watering system whenever you need to water it.
To prevent root rot and other potential overwatering complications, you’ll need to plant your Agave in sandy or rocky soil with slight acidity. A succulent or cactus potting mix works well for the Agave Butterfly, but you can also modify a traditional potting mix by adding sand or perlite to increase drainage. To further improve drainage, place small stones at the bottom of your pot before adding your soil.
4. Temperature and Humidity
In terms of temperature, all members of the Agave family are native to warm climates, meaning you’ll need to keep them nice and toasty for them to grow. These succulents can’t tolerate frost and will die in the winter if grown outside, so keeping them indoors with temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
Fertilizer isn’t necessary for an Agave to thrive, and if you want to avoid flowering, it’s best to stay away from fertilizer. If your succulent is struggling with growth and nutrient absorption, we recommend adding a few drops of water-soluble fertilizer to your watering routine or adding a little compost into your soil mixture.
Potting and Repotting
When you repot or handle your Agave, always wear gloves to avoid getting the plant’s sap on your fingers. It’s also best to repot your succulents during their growing season, so the plant has plenty of time to adjust to its new home and recover from any leaf or root damage. A general rule of thumb for potting and repotting your succulents is to go with a pot at least 10% larger than the plant’s previous pot (or 15% larger than the plant if you’re potting for the first time). Since the Agave Butterfly requires porous, well-draining soil, consider planting it in a pot with a drainage hole. To further improve drainage, use pots made from porous materials like concrete, terracotta, or unglazed ceramic.
Like hens and chicks, succulents in the Agave produce pups or tinier versions of the mother plant that begin as offshoots before taking root. While you can propagate your Agave Butterfly with leaf cuttings, it’s easiest to propagate the plant directly from its offshoots. To do so, wait until your chosen offshoot just begins to take root. Then, use a clean, sharp knife to cut the pup off from the mother plant. Transfer the pup to its own pot, and treat it as you would a baby succulent!
The Variegated Agave Butterfly is a monocarpic succulent, meaning it flowers once before it dies. These flowers appear on long, thin stalks with green and yellow flowers at the top of the stalk, and are most likely to appear in the late fall or early winter when your Agave reaches full maturity at about ten to fifteen years. On occasion, these flowers may have red tips. If you see your Agave Butterfly start to bloom, it may take either a few weeks or several months for the plant itself to wither– it’s best to get a cutting or harvest an offshoot plant as soon as possible. When the mother plant dies, offshoots will take over the space where the mother plant had once been. Similar to hens and chicks, this cycle lasts many years, so you won’t have to worry about replacing your Agave when it starts blooming.
Like most succulents from warmer climates, the Agave Butterfly goes dormant in the winter. It may appear discolored or wilted, and its growth will slow. While your succulent is dormant, decrease the amount of water it receives and keep it away from cold, drafty areas. When temperatures rise again, your Agave will slowly come out of dormancy and begin to perk up. Typically, the waking period starts when temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before we dive into the care needs for this succulent, it’s important to note that members of the Agave family contain poisonous sap, which is a common skin irritant. The sap can cause gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, when ingested. It’s best to keep this succulent away from pets and children and always use gloves when handling it to avoid getting any sap on your skin.
The most common problems you’re likely to encounter with an Agave Butterfly stem from overwatering or poor drainage. Root rot, fungal gnats, and fungal infections are likely if your Agave struggles with poor drainage. To fix this, repot your succulent in fresh, sandy soil with some rocks at the bottom to improve drainage, and follow our comprehensive root rot guide for reviving plants suffering from root rot.
See more about All You Need to Know about Succulent Variegation