Nova Scotia

Agave plant at Halifax Public Gardens may never bloom

The succulent, which is usually found in the desert, only blooms once in its lifespan.

'She's been out here for ... a month now and it's not moved or budged,' horticulturalist says

A closer look at the brown leaves of the agave plant at the Public Gardens. (Diane Paquette/CBC)

The agave plant at the Halifax Public Gardens may never bloom because it is dying.

"I'm starting to lose faith that it will [bloom], just from my observations," Heidi Boutilier, a horticulturalist with the municipality, told CBC Radio's Mainstreet Wednesday. "She's been out here for ... a month now and it's not moved or budged."

Heidi Boutilier, a horticulturalist for Halifax, said the lower leaves of the plant have started dying back. She said that indicates the mother plant is starting to go. (Diane Paquette/CBC)

Boutilier said in the past week, the lower leaves of the plant started dying back. She said that indicated the "mother plant was starting to go."

Too cold to survive

The succulent, which is normally found in the desert, puts up a huge asparagus-like stalk that eventually flowers — but it only happens once in its lifespan. It usually dies after it blooms. 

The agave plant at the Public Gardens was brought outdoors because it was getting too big to fit in the greenhouse. Boutilier suspects the chilly weather contributed to the plant's demise.

​"We tried to procure a spot inside with some big cathedral ceilings, but did not have any success in that manner. We had a day to make that decision," Boutilier said.

'I'm not convinced it's over'

Sue Goyette, a poet living in Halifax, is still holding out hope the plant will flower. She is one of many people who have gone to the Public Gardens to see it almost every day.

"I'm not convinced it's over.… There's new green on top of the mast or the stalk of the plant. And it's pretty normal for her outside leaves to die at this point because all her sugar is going into that bud at the top," Goyette said.

People are expecting too much from the plant, she said.

"We come with expectation to be entertained, to see something, and this plant is a wild little beast who is doing her own thing and I'm really just trying to be in the space and watch how she unfurls in whatever way she chooses to unfurl," said Goyette.

"And if it's her dying, then I'm committed to just watching that, too, because that is a sacred process just as flowering is."

More agave plants coming

Boutilier said there are two more large, mature agave plants that will likely be brought outdoors this week that are the same age and size as the dying plant. Neither of those plants has a stalk yet.

"Hopefully when one of them starts to flower, we will have a different set of scenarios and maybe more success," Boutilier said.

With files from Diane Paquette of CBC Radio's Mainstreet