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Lifestyle Stories

Century plants are a treat -- if you're patient

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 08:37 PM

I don't pray for patience, though Lord knows I could use it.

If you pray for patience you get a 10-month pregnancy. Or the slow line at the grocery store.

Or a century plant.

Brenda Kaylor might have been praying for patience when she moved into her home in Sulphur Springs 22 years ago.

"There was a lot of cactus taking over the yard, so we pulled them out," she recalls. "I saw this little plant and it looked good, so I didn't dig it up."

She figured it was some kind of cactus. Turns out it's a succulent, Agave americana. Also known as a century plant, because it feels like it takes that long to bloom.

Brenda's little plant grew. It grew and it grew and it grew. And then, one day last month, she noticed something poking up from the middle. The next day, that thing was a foot taller. Now, it's as tall as the trees in her yard, and starting to form a seed head at the top.

"We've been in this house 22 years and that's the first bloom we've seen," she says. "It's amazing. We had no idea what it was. It looks like a giant asparagus."

Brenda and her neighbors did some research online and discovered the mystery plant's identity. They also learned the fate that awaits it.

"It's so sad!" she says. "It produces this beautiful thing, and then it dies!"

Apparently, this is the time of year when century plants around here throw up their once-in-a-lifetime bloom. I've heard there's one shooting up in Dade City, too.

Brenda - now the world's most patient person - says it's worth the wait.

"If I were younger, I'd plant one," she says. "It's amazing."

Maybe I really should pray for patience.


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