Cabbage Head Agave

Cabbage Head Agave

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Agave parrasana (Cabbage Head Agave)

Agave parrasana (Cabbage Head Agave) is a slow-growing succulent that produces compact, usually solitary rosettes of grey-green leaves…

Plant of the Week: Cabbage head agave


USDA Hardiness Zones: 7 to 11

Origin: Northern Central Mexico

Not all agave are giants. The cabbage head agave (Agave parrasana) is relatively petite and visually coarse. As the name implies, cabbage head agave grows in a spherical rosette with the leaves growing and radiating from a central point.

This agave has silvery-green leaves that are 6 to 10 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. The leaf margin and tip have sharp thorns or spikes of contrasting burgundy.

Giving this plant extra interest, the surface of the leaves has profound imprints of the surrounding leaves. The flowering rosette part of the plant will die after it blooms, but new rosette pups will grow in its place as offshoots from the mother plant.

For the central Ohio climate, the cabbage head agave is not winter-hardy, so it will need to be inside when the temperatures drop.

Cabbage head agave is a nice addition to the garden border (it can be kept in its container for easy relocation in the winter) or as a specimen container plant on a sunny deck or patio.

See the cabbage head agave in the Desert Biome at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Agave Species, Cabbage Head Agave, Century Plant, Maguey


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Vista, California(9 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On Mar 23, 2016, Lodewijkp from Zwolle,
Netherlands (Zone 7a) wrote:

I think its way more cold hardy than growers claim it to be, most sources list it as zone 8B, 9A at 25 F. in nature it grows in Couhuila Mexico at north-facing slopes to an altitude of 2400 m (8000 ft.) There is probably a wide variety of hardy provenances in correlation with altitude and cross breeding.

im going to trial this agave in my zone 7B climate , i expect ( conservative guess ) it to be hardy around 7 F.

On Mar 25, 2011, GermanStar from Fountain Hills, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Confederate Rose (A. potatorum, A. pygmaea, or a potatorum/pygmaea hybrid) is not A. parrasana. A. parrasana is a larger, more attractive plant, sort of a jumbo A. parryi truncata, with very smooth leaves, reaching about 30" in diameter.

On Mar 2, 2009, agave57 from St. David, AZ (Zone 8a) wrote:

I was curious about the "Confederate Rose" agave labeled parrasana because it seems very different from the species--many experts seem to think it's mislabeled--a hybrid of unknown species, but defintely not a parrasana.

On Jun 30, 2007, cactusmother from Scottsdale, AZ wrote:

My agave parrasana was planted about 9 months ago, so it should have had time to acclimate. It gets the noon and afternoon sun. and it is now suffering from sunburn and seems to be drying out. I live in the Phoenix area and it has been hot. I love the plant and want to save it. I also like it in this location do I have to move it? More water? Any suggestions?

On Oct 22, 2003, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

What a beauty of a miniature Agave. It grows as an excellent potted plant, offsets abundantly, will form mounds in the pot or landscape. It is only hardy to 25F. Love the blue green foliage, easy to see why it is called a Confederate Rose, tight foliage resembles a rose. Each mature plant is only about 4 inches across. Caution as the spiny tips are very sharp.

Cabbage head agave - 10 seeds

A. parrasana is a compact, chunky, small sized agave related and similar to Agave parryi. It has very short broad leaves that form into a tight, symmetrical, spherical rosette, shaped like a 'globe artichoke' 40-60 cm tall, 30-50(-90) cm in diameter. It produces few or no offsets but can form small mounds in the pot or landscape.

1. Mix equal amounts of garden soil, sand and broken brick perlite. Sterilize prepared substrate by putting it in a microwave for 3 minutes or in your oven for 45 minutes approximately.

2. Previously prepared containers for planting are to be filled with substrate, but while doing it, be careful and leave some space at the top, at least 0.5 inches (2cm). Add plenty of water and leave the container, so that the water has some time to decant.

3. Plant Agave seeds, but leave at least 0.4 inches (1cm) of space between each seed. Then cover the seeds again with a thin layer of substrate, and to finish it off, cover it with a thin layer of fine gravel, with grains no bigger than 0.12 inches (3mm). Water it again.

4. Moisture is the most important part for seed germination. It’s best to cover the container with a piece of nylon or a plastic bag in order to keep it moisturized. The container with seeds should be put somewhere warm, but not exposed to direct sunlight. The temperature needed for Agave to germinate is 77°F (25°C) and above.

5. The germination can start as soon as 4 days after planting, but it’s more frequent for it to start after 10-12 days. Remove the glass that kept the container moisturized 2 weeks after planting.

6. You need to spray the substrate every day, it cannot be let to completely dry off. It is also important to provide the plant with sufficient sunlight during the day, but avoid direct sunlight for a couple of months. It’s of great importance for Agaves not to change its light regime during this sensitive period. Try to provide it with a similar amount of light every day.

7. Agave’s seedlings have a tendency to fall over, which can be fatal for them. You can prevent that by adding some pebbles around the plants. Agaves bred from the seed start off as one leaf. The empty shell of the seed can stay at the top of the plant for a long time. You can take it of gently by yourself, but it’s not necessary. The plant starts to form a new leaf four weeks after germination, so they start looking like mature Agaves. However, only after forming the third leaf will Agaves look more like their parents.

A rosette will typically mature over time to 2' tall by 3' wide. Each leaf has spiny margins with a one inch terminal spine. Suckers/offsets root at the base of the rosette forming over time a colony of rosettes. Each rosette will flower only once, usually at some point between 10-15 years (not the 100 years suggested by the also-used common name of century plant used for some agaves), but sometimes flowering will not occur until 20-30 years. One huge flowering stalk (to 20' tall) will rise from each rosette, with each stalk producing 20 to 30 side branches and with each side branch containing a large cluster of creamy yellow flowers. In its native habitat, flowers typically bloom in summer (June - August). Flowers are followed by seed pods. The flowering rosette dies after flowering, but new rosettes formed by suckers/offsets from the base of the mother plant will remain. Native Americans used this agave as a source of food, fiber, soap and medicine. Plant liquids may be fermented to form an alcoholic beverage called pulque which may be further distilled to form mescal or tequila. Reliably winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10. Best growth occurs in a sandy/gritty, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates some light shade. Sharp soil drainage is important. Poorly-drained soils inevitably lead to root rot. Tolerates dry soils and drought. Surprisingly good winter hardiness for this succulent. Plants have reportedly survived winters with temperatures as low as -20F (USDA Zone 5), but cold temperatures should be "dry cold" as opposed to "wet cold".

Watch the video: Agave parrasana - growing and care


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