For the anxious father it was months of waiting, watching and preparing – then go away for two days and miss the whole thing. In the case of Nigel Brown’s happy event, his baby is a two-metre flower stalk flapping about in the wind over a six-metre century plant, and its explosive birth has trashed his glasshouse.
The plant, Agave americana, has evolved to withstand the arid climate of Mexico: it can grow slowly over decades to an enormous size, then flowers just once. Its common name is the century plant because it was thought to flower only once in 100 years: many British botanists have waited their entire professional lives to see one flower.
“I was completely dumbfounded when I came back on Monday and saw it,” Dr Brown, curator of the Bangor University botanical gardens, said yesterday. “It had grown 6ft [1.8m] in the two days I was away, smashing straight through the glass, which after 28 years watching over it seemed a bit of a shock.” [ read more … Roof busting bloom shocks curator of botanic gardens]
While agaves are usually too fast growing and too large to make a good house plant occasionally you’ll run across a slower growing, smaller variety.