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Last Updated: Aug 4th, 2017 - 10:31:10

After 20 years' tender care, Milo plant blooms for first and last time
Jul 12, 2017, 10:13

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A bloom 20 years and three stories in the making is opening in the Milo community.

After 20 years, the Century Plant in Annette Craig’s garden is blooming. The plant blooms once before it dies. Craig’s plant is now 30 feet tall. (SUBMITTED/The News Observer)
The plant which will bloom once before dying, known as a Century Plant, has been the centerpiece of Annette and Jimmy Craig’s rock garden the past 20 years. Annette was given the plant by a neighbor, Nancy Meziere, while Meziere’s Century Plant was in the blooming stage. Annette’s plant was only six inches tall at the time.

“My neighbor told me she had a plant to add to my garden and we did,” she said.

Now 30 feet tall, the once diminituitive plant began sprouting from its center stem in mid-March. The buds emerged in May, and now — as the bottom blooms begin to die out — the plant is ending its blooming phase.

While it is commonly called the Century Plant, Agave americana typically lives 10 to 30 years. As it grows upward, its greenery can spread between six and 10 feet wide, putting out grayish-tinted spiked leaves that can be as long as five feet. As it approaches its blooming phase, a branched stalk shoots upward, opening into yellow blossoms 25 to 30 feet in the air.

Even though it does after flowering, shoots grow from the base, allowing the plant to grow once again.

Annette said Jimmy used four PVC pipes he had driven around the plant and heavy plastic to protect it during harsh winters when the plant was young, but as it grew too big to cover, she started clipping back dead leaves that were affected by freezing temperatures.

--For the complete story, see the print edition.