Tuscola century plant gives once-in-a-lifetime bloom


TUSCOLA, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Towering about 30 feet above the backyard of Kit Horne are the Suess-like blooms of his ‘century plant’. The 25-year-old plant’s arms reaching high for the clouds for the first and last time of its life.

“It’s the most beautiful bloom I’ve ever seen on our place,” says Horne.

The plant easily spans 5 feet across, it’s leaves thick and spiny. In its center sprouts a stalk that sways weightily in the breeze. Arms sprout from it hosting blooms similar to that of a sunflower though their entire faces are green tube-like buds, some already trying to become white petals.

Horne planted the agave-like root back in 1996. It was propagated from a business in Coleman, his town of residence at the time, whose front had an abundance of the plants and was set for demolition. He soon relocated to Tuscola, planting his own root in the corner of his backyard.

Ever since, Horne says the plant grew in size but never really sprouted until this past spring. Once it did it grew like a weed (unsurprising as century plants are regarded as invasive.)

“The 30th of April is when I first noticed it and started taking pictures everyday. It was growing about a foot a day, you could almost sit there and watch it grow,” said Horne.

Horne regards the bloom as special and General Manager of Garden World Tom Hooper backs that claim up. He confirms century plants can live up to 40 years and will only grow a stalk and bloom once in its lifetime.

“It really is a rare occasion when that happens and the blooms can really be beautiful,” said Hooper.

The blooms though are a sign of the end of the plant’s life says Hooper.

“When they produce that stalk it can get 15 up to 20 feet tall then the whole plant will die,” said Hooper.

Horne is aware of what’s in store for his beloved plant, but until it starts to whither he says he’ll enjoy the blooms of the green giant.

“Who would’ve thought that something so prickly and hard could make something so beautiful,” said Horne.

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