Agave shawii

Shaw's agave

Plant Type: Perennial
Sun: Sun
Drainage: Well-draining
Water: Naturalize
Height X Width: 3' X 3'
Santa Clara County Local: No
What do these mean?



Shaw’s agave grows naturally in the southwest corner of coastal San Diego County. It occurs in only a few locations but becomes more common in Baja, Mexico. Another subspecies (goldmania) is found further south on the Baja peninsula. Shaw’s agave is widely planted in gardens in Southern California because of its striking appearance. The blue-green leaves are edged with a purple margin and curved thorns that are purple at the base and transition to white at the tips.  As the leaves grow from the center of the plant and open out to form a rosette, an imprint of the thorns from the neighboring leaves remains visible on the leaf’s waxy green surface. A slow grower, Shaw’s agave will take many year to reach its full size.  After twelve years or so, the plant will send up a massive flower stalk topped with yellow and red flowers.  This display will mark the end of the plant’s life.  Fortunately, Shaw’s agave readily produces plantlets around its base, which will survive the death of the mother plant.  Shaw’s agave will thrive in coastal gardens in full sun, but needs more shade in hot interior locations.  A critical factor for northern gardeners is the sensitivity of Shaw’s agave to frost. It is hardy to about 25F.  Although this temperature is rare in many SF Bay Area locations, it is advisable to plant Shaw’s agave in a pot so it can be readily moved to an optimal site. Like dudleyas, cacti and other agaves, Shaw’s agave will do well in a fairly tight pot with a diameter slightly smaller than the diameter of the rosette.


Deer Resistant: Yes
Attractive to Bees: Yes
Attractive to Butterflies: Yes
Good Under Oaks: No
Evergreen or Deciduous: Evergreen