Propagating Agave vilmoriniana bulbils

 If there was ever a vote for the easiest agave to propagate - the Octopus Agave would be a contender. As anyone who has ever had one bloom will tell you - it is prolific! I had three Agave vilmoriniana bloom and produce bulbils this year and without exaggerating I can say there are thousands of bulbils.




 Sadly, the vast majority will end up in the bin.

The biggest stalk is close to 20 feet tall

 As you can see it is not the prettiest of sights. I've resisted the urge to rip out the mother plant and rethink that area of the garden. I'm sure that job will be on my plate soon. In the meantime the bulbils seem to keep growing.


Collected and sorted

Notice that none of the bulbils had roots when they were collected. I'm not sure if they begin growing roots, like other Agave species, while still attached to the flower stalk.

Farming bulbils

 I've used a variety of soil mixtures with the bulbils. They seem to like a light and fluffy "seed starter" mix which I'll amend with a bit of potting mix from out local landscape supply yard. I don't generally add water to start other than a heavy misting to moisten the soil.


Bulbils in the "Easy Bake Oven"

After putting on the humidity dome I waited for about a week. I've had good luck with bulbils when the soil stays moist (not wet) and the soil temperature is warm. At this location the air temperature cycles between 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 every day - not on purpose, that's just life in a glass house.


Bulbil root growth after about a week in soil

Surprisingly after just one week many of the Agave vilmoriniana bulbils had begun rooting.


Root growth after a two plus weeks

Honestly, I was very surprised to see roots this long after just a few weeks. In general, the larger bulbils seemed to be better root growers. With roots this long it's time to transplant - waiting longer makes it difficult to untangle the bulbils.

Time to transplant!

Not every bulbil grew roots...

I decided not to save the non-starters. Given time they would probably root but I have so many others that I can afford to be picky.

Assortment of pots with newly planted Octopus Agave

The next step is ... more waiting and some watering every few days. These Agave should grow relatively quickly both because of the species and their new home in a nice, warm greenhouse.

Happy Propagating!


  1. A friend gave me her entire variegated Agave vilmoriniana stalk a year+ ago as she headed out of town. I ended up handing off 2-3 flats of bulbils to a local succulent society, keeping only a couple of dozen for myself. I gave most of those to neighbors once they developed roots. When my own non-variegated stalk bloomed this year, I didn't even try to plant them up!


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