Propagating Agave by Suckers: A Detailed Tutorial

7. Propagating Agave by Suckers: A Detailed Tutorial

Are you looking to expand your agave collection? Propagating agave plants through suckers is a simple and effective method that can help you multiply your plants with ease. In this detailed tutorial, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of propagating agave by suckers, providing you with all the information you need to successfully propagate these beautiful plants in your own garden. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice enthusiast, this tutorial will guide you through the process and help you achieve success in propagating agave plants.

Introduction to Agave Propagation

Agave plants are a popular choice for gardeners due to their striking appearance and low maintenance requirements. One way to propagate agave plants is through suckers, which are small shoots that grow from the base of the parent plant. This method of propagation is relatively simple and can result in new, healthy plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

What are Suckers?

Suckers, also known as pups or offsets, are essentially baby agave plants that grow from the underground rhizomes of the parent plant. These suckers can be easily separated from the parent plant and transplanted to grow into new, independent plants.

Benefits of Propagating Agave by Suckers

Propagating agave plants by suckers is a cost-effective and efficient way to expand your agave collection. Since the suckers are genetically identical to the parent plant, you can ensure that the new plants will have the same desirable traits and characteristics. Additionally, propagating agave by suckers can result in quicker growth and establishment compared to other propagation methods.

Common Types of Agave Suitable for Sucker Propagation

While many species of agave can be propagated by suckers, some common types that are particularly well-suited for this method include Agave americana, Agave parryi, and Agave tequilana. These species produce numerous suckers that can be easily separated and transplanted, making them ideal choices for gardeners looking to expand their agave collection through propagation.

Identifying and Selecting Healthy Suckers

When propagating agave plants through suckers, it is crucial to choose healthy and robust suckers to ensure successful growth. Here are some characteristics to look for when identifying and selecting healthy suckers:

Characteristics of Healthy Suckers

  • Size: Healthy suckers are typically smaller in size compared to the mother plant, but not too small or underdeveloped.
  • Color: Look for suckers that have a similar color to the mother plant, indicating they are receiving enough nutrients.
  • Firmness: Healthy suckers should feel firm to the touch, indicating they are well-hydrated and turgid.
  • Position: Suckers that are growing near the base of the mother plant are usually healthier and easier to propagate.

How to Properly Remove Suckers from the Mother Plant

Once you have identified healthy suckers for propagation, it is important to properly remove them from the mother plant to ensure their survival. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Locate the Suckers: Carefully inspect the base of the mother plant to identify the suckers you want to remove.
  2. Prepare Your Tools: Use a sharp and sterilized knife or pruning shears to cut the suckers cleanly without causing damage.
  3. Cut the Suckers: Make a clean cut as close to the mother plant as possible to ensure the sucker has enough roots attached for successful propagation.
  4. Remove Excess Leaves: Trim any excess leaves from the sucker to reduce water loss and encourage root growth.
  5. Allow to Callus: Let the cut end of the sucker dry and callus over for a few days before planting it in well-draining soil.

By following these steps and selecting healthy suckers, you can successfully propagate agave plants through suckers and expand your garden with beautiful new additions.

Preparing for Propagation

Before propagating agave by suckers, it is important to gather all the necessary materials and prepare the planting area. Here are some steps to take in order to ensure successful propagation:

Choosing the Right Soil Mix

The first step in preparing for propagation is to choose the right soil mix for your agave suckers. Agaves prefer well-draining soil, so it is important to select a mix that is sandy and loamy. You can also add some perlite or pumice to improve drainage and aeration.

Selecting the Appropriate Containers for Planting Suckers

Once you have chosen the right soil mix, the next step is to select the appropriate containers for planting the agave suckers. It is recommended to use containers that have drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging. Terracotta pots are a popular choice for agaves as they allow for better air circulation around the roots.

By following these steps and preparing for propagation properly, you can ensure that your agave suckers have the best chance of thriving and growing into healthy plants.

Planting and Caring for Agave Suckers

When propagating agave through suckers, it is important to follow proper planting and care techniques to ensure successful growth. Here are some tips to help you nurture your agave suckers:

Proper Planting Techniques

  • Choose a well-draining soil mix for planting your agave suckers. Agaves thrive in sandy or rocky soil that allows for good drainage.
  • Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root system of the sucker, ensuring that it is planted at the same depth as it was in the original plant.
  • Gently pack the soil around the sucker to provide stability and support as it establishes its root system.

Watering and Sunlight Requirements

  • Agave suckers require minimal watering, as they are drought-tolerant plants. Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
  • Place your agave suckers in a location that receives plenty of sunlight. Agaves prefer full sun exposure to thrive and grow vigorously.

Tips for Ensuring Successful Growth

  • Protect your agave suckers from extreme temperatures, especially during the winter months. Consider moving them indoors or providing insulation during cold spells.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases regularly, as agaves can be susceptible to certain issues. Treat any problems promptly to prevent them from spreading.
  • Consider fertilizing your agave suckers sparingly, using a balanced fertilizer designed for succulent plants. Avoid over-fertilization, as this can cause harm to the plants.

By following these planting and care tips, you can ensure that your agave suckers grow healthy and strong, adding beauty to your garden landscape.

Common Mistakes to Avoid


One of the most common mistakes when propagating agave by suckers is overwatering. Agave plants are drought-tolerant and do not require frequent watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot and ultimately kill the plant. It is important to allow the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent this issue.

Improper Soil Drainage

Another mistake to avoid is using soil that does not have proper drainage. Agave plants prefer well-draining soil to prevent water from pooling around the roots. Without proper drainage, the roots can become waterlogged and rot. It is recommended to use a cactus or succulent mix with added perlite or sand to improve drainage.

Excessive Fertilization

Agave plants are not heavy feeders and do not require frequent fertilization. Excessive fertilization can cause the plant to grow too quickly, leading to weak growth and susceptibility to pests and diseases. It is best to use a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength and only apply it during the growing season.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can successfully propagate agave plants by suckers and enjoy healthy, thriving plants in your garden.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Root Rot

One common issue that may arise when propagating agave by suckers is root rot. Root rot occurs when the roots of the plant are constantly in wet soil, leading to decay and ultimately death of the plant. To prevent root rot, make sure to plant agave in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering. If you notice signs of root rot such as mushy roots or a foul smell, it is important to act quickly to save your plant. Remove any affected roots and replant in fresh, well-draining soil.

Pests and Diseases

Another common issue to watch out for when propagating agave by suckers is pests and diseases. Agave plants are susceptible to pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids, as well as diseases like fungal infections. To prevent pests and diseases, keep a close eye on your plants and inspect them regularly for any signs of infestation. If you do notice pests or diseases, treat them promptly with natural or chemical solutions to prevent further damage to your agave plant.

Stunted Growth

Stunted growth can also be a common issue when propagating agave by suckers. This may be caused by a lack of nutrients, improper sunlight, or overcrowding. To promote healthy growth, make sure to provide your agave plant with adequate sunlight, well-balanced fertilizer, and enough space to spread out. If you notice stunted growth, consider repotting your plant into a larger container or adjusting its care routine to meet its needs.


In conclusion, propagating agave by suckers is a simple and effective way to increase your plant collection. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can successfully propagate agave and enjoy the beauty of these unique plants in your own garden.

Summary of Key Points

  • Suckers are the small offshoots that grow from the base of the mother plant.
  • To propagate agave by suckers, carefully remove the sucker from the mother plant and plant it in well-draining soil.
  • Keep the newly propagated agave in a warm, sunny location and water sparingly to encourage root growth.

Final Tips for Successful Agave Propagation by Suckers

  • Make sure to use a sharp, clean knife or shears to remove the sucker from the mother plant to prevent damage.
  • Allow the cut end of the sucker to callus over before planting to reduce the risk of rot.
  • Monitor the newly propagated agave for signs of stress or dehydration, and adjust watering accordingly.

By following these final tips and key points, you can successfully propagate agave by suckers and expand your agave collection with ease.