The name filifera is Latin for ‘carrying threads’ and refers to the fine hairs that grow along the leaves. It is often mistaken for a member of the cactus family due to certain species having spiny, pointed leaves.
Some types grow on stalks, but the most recognised is the one which grows as a clump that forms a rosette of shiny, succulent leaves. Although it rarely flowers, when it does it produces a 6-foot-tall spike with green flowers. As the flowers get older they start to become maroon in colour.
It is commonly found in the deserts of southern America and it is believed that this plant originated in the Mexico area, probably in the San Luis Potosi and Hidalgo State areas. It prefers bright, dry conditions and needs very good drainage. It is pretty frost resistant and can cope with temperatures as low as -8°C and can tolerate light shade.
The Agave propagates itself in the form of suckers which grow from the base of the plant. These can be taken off and planted to become new plants. Some varieties flower annually, some may take decades to bloom.
Agave is the genus and filifera is the species. Agave is quite close to the schidigera genus and the two will readily hybridise.
When kept as a house plant, this variety needs to be watered regularly in summer and left dry in the winter months. Ideally it should be outside in full to partial sun in the summer. It is a low maintenance plant but is prone to root rot, which is usually caused by incorrect watering.
Did You Know?
A huge number of items are made from the Agave and its family. Its fibres are used as rope, the dried stalks can be made into didgeridoos and some can be dried to extract sugar from. Even tequila is made from one variety.
Some plants produce several pounds of edible flowers and the leaves, stalks and the basal rosettes can be eaten too. Their sap is called aguamiel, or honey water.