Catherine Winbush’s baby is finally close to full grown, and it’s gotten big in its old age.
It lives in her front yard, rising far over her single-story house and dwarfing nearby bushes. At about 30 feet tall and reaching the ripe old age of 15, it’s survived whatever nature could throw at it, from ice to gusting winds and baking sun.
Up close, its coloring and textures make it seem more like a species from another planet than something native to North America.
Augusta, meet Winbush’s Agave Americana plant. It’s blooming for the first and last time.
Agave Americana plants, known as “century plants,” are commonly used as decoration and are native to Texas and regions of Mexico, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Web site. Legend has it that the plants bloom only once every 100 years, but they actually bud every 10 to 30 years.
After blooming, the plant dies over the following months, leaving small “pups” to grow into other agave plants. The agave’s stem, which forms as the plant gets ready to bloom, generally reaches heights of 12 to 25 feet.
Winbush received her plant from her daughter as a gift 15 years ago.
She had no idea it would shoot to such heights and said the plant’s position in the yard gives it plenty of sunlight, heat and room, which she believes contributed to its size.
“It started growing its stem back in April,” Winbush said. “And it just kept going and going. It’s shot up that high in two months. Everyone started coming over and looking at it after that. I started getting a little worried about it. I just hope a big wind doesn’t come over and blow it over on me!”
Winbush expects the plant to finish blooming in June or July. She will collect any pups and distribute them to friends and family while keeping one for herself. She hopes to be able to plant another in the near future.
“I like to see things grow and I like to share what I grow with other people,” Winbush said. “I get a joy from sharing. It stimulates you and gives you energy, especially when you grow things like this and share it with my community.”
She said neighbors and friends swing by to compliment her on the plant’s titanic size and uniqueness. It’s not like anything they’ve seen before, they say.
“It truly is my baby. It’s so special to me,” Winbush said. “I’m so excited. I’ve never seen a plant grow like this one. It’s all grown up. I’m just glad I can see it bloom. I hope I’m around to see another one grow.”