The King Ferdinand Century Plant, Agave Ferdinandi-Regis, is an incredibly beautiful plant. It features glaucous green leaves that have a distinctive white pinstripe decorating each leaf. As an added accent, the leaves are tipped with a sharp, little black “stickers,” just as a reminder that royalty should not be ignored or aggravated.
Agave Ferdinandi is a distinguished member of the agave family, and that is saying a great deal for the word “agave” translates as distinguished or excellent. Found originally in the mountains north-east of Saltillo, Mexico, its first scientific name was agave nickelsiae. Alwin Berger renamed it Agave Ferdinandi-Regis in 1915, even though some botanists dismissed it as simply being a variant of agave victoriae reginae. In recent considerations, Mexican botanists noted distinct differences, and determined that it should be given a separate designation.
Each slow-growing plant can reach about eighteen inches tall and become eighteen inches wide. Like most agaves, A. Ferdinandi likes sandy or rocky soil and dry, warm weather, with the occasional or seasonal shower. It will tolerant cool autumn weather, but does not enjoy cold winters. For growers who are farther north than USA zone 8, your best option is to grow any agave species in a pot. Outdoors, it likes direct sunlight or partial shade.
Wear safety gear including eye protection, long sleeves, long pants, and gloves when handling King Ferdinand Century Plants. Their spikes are very sharp and the sap can be irritating. By the same token, it is a good idea to keep A. Ferdinandi away from pets and children to prevent damage to the mobile creatures or the plant.
If you are growing the King Ferdinand Century Plant in a container, a twenty-four fluid-ounce pot is recommended. It likes indirect sunlight, but plenty of it. If your houseplants frequently die from neglect, you will love A. Ferdinandi for it thrives on just being left alone. It does not require frequent repotting, but when it does become necessary, (perhaps every two years or so), be sure to completely change out the potting soil and make sure that your plant is firmly seated. Like many succulents, it will do well in a cactus potting mix, with some coarser material in the bottom of the container to ensure good drainage.
Do not panic if your King Ferdinand Century plant seems to remain the same size for a long time. They do grow very slowly. If it produces pups, they can be introduced to their own pots to provide a continuous supply of agaves. They also make dandy gifts for other plant lovers.
Be prepared to say good-bye to your royal plant guest when it blossoms. Like most agaves, it is likely to die after blooming. Which brings us to another topic: fertilizing. Large amounts of fertilizer tends to encourage blossoming, so to preserve the life of your plant, be conservative when feeding it. Once it is established, it should need very little added plant food.
King Ferdinand Century Plants do not usually require pruning, unless your plant develops diseased or dead leaves. Again, always wear good safety gear, and use a sharp knife or pruning scissors if you must remove leaves.
Overall, a King Ferdinand Century Plant should provide any plant lover many years of enjoyment. In desert or Mediterranean environments, it does well as a feature plant in a low-water garden area. It serves as a focal point for a rock garden, or it can provide ground level interest when teamed with yuccas, grass trees, and similar growth. It is a good idea not to plant it too close to pathways or high traffic areas because of the spines. But viewed from a respectful distance in is a gorgeous addition to any garden or indoor plant collection.