An inconspicuous desert plant in Bruce Dyer’s front yard in Cortez transformed into a giant while he was on vacation.
“My neighbor called and said a tall tree had suddenly grown up. It’s like Jack and Beanstalk,” Dyer said.
The distinctive species of agave on Chestnut Street is known as a century plant. It takes eight to 30 years to bloom and does so in spectacular fashion, then dies.
When blooming, the agava americana species sends up an impressive flower stalk that grows up to a foot per day and reaches 10 to 20 feet with arms of full of blossoms.
“We did not know, it’s one of those unexpected surprises that occur in life,” Dyer said. “It’s exciting.”
He said it was planted in 2006 as part of a cactus garden and is watered from a drip system. The garden is fed soil conditioner occasionally.
While the mother century plant will die a few months after it blooms, offshoots will survive, said Vic Vanik of Four Seasons Greenhouse in Dolores.
“They are slow growing and take a lot time to establish,” he said. “Century plants are fairly unusual this far north, so it’s really special.”
Vanik sells century plants, although none are in stock now. He said when they are cultivated and cared for in gardens, they tend grow and bloom a little sooner than in the wild.
The towering flower stalk has generated quite a bit of interest in the neighborhood, Dyer said.
It is amazingly sturdy and holds up to the winds, helped by being sheltered in a plaza of townhomes.
The blossom began to shoot up after Dyer left for vacation May 1, and grew more than 10 feet by the time he returned.
The plant’s offshoots look to be healthy and might create another great show in 10 to 20 years, Dyer said.