Village News - Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

Adventures in gardening; 'Death Stalk' continues to loom large in the yard


Last updated 3/23/2018 at 3:39am

The death stalk growing out of an agave begins to sprout buds hinting at a spectacular bloom yet to come. Kim Harris photos

Many readers emailed me regarding the death stalk growing out of the blue agave in my front yard, some offering tips, others offering advice and some just wondering what we decided to do with the agave killer, so in the spirit of full disclosure, here it is – the official death stalk update.

For those of you who missed the initial article in the March 9 edition of Valley News and available online at, in a nutshell, the arrival of the dreaded death stalk in my blue agave left all the Harris household scratching our heads wondering what it was and what to do about it.

Thanks to our friendly neighborhood nursery, we learned it was a death stalk that would result in some beautiful blooms and the untimely death of our lovely plant, which is positioned near the driveway in my front yard. When I last left readers, we were debating what to do with the plant, since we were told it could grow as high as 30 feet and weigh as much as 800 pounds when it finally dies. I wanted to let it bloom, but my loving husband thought it would be best to cut it down.

I am happy to report that we decided to let nature take its course, thanks in part to my persuasive abilities and the emails I received from readers who lobbied for the plant's right to live.

One astute reader told me that she chose to let her agave bloom.

"I let it stay there as long as it wanted – it has dried and is full of seeds," Victoria M. from Fallbrook wrote. "I think that might be a way to keep that plant growing by planting the seeds."

Great advice Victoria M! We are going to harvest the seeds when it gets to that point and plant them in the ground, which will allow our agave to live on in its descendants.

Another reader shared her experience growing up in the San Fernando Valley, "Which was mostly desert way back when," she said.

"My parents grew a lot of cactus," Ramona wrote. "We had a blue agave that was huge. It grew a 'death stalk.' We just let it be. I am glad we did. It sprouted the most beautiful large white flower. I know you will be happy, and your husband will be too if you let it run its cycle."

A baby death stalk recently appeared growing out the side of the plant.

I can honestly say I am looking forward to what this thing will look like when it blooms as it has begun to sprout little buds up the entire length of the stalk, which has grown to about 15 feet in the two weeks since I published the first article about it. Judging by the number of buds, however it blooms, this agave death stalk is going to be a thing of beauty.

One of the more interesting things, I have noticed on my agave is in addition to the gigantic death stalk, there is now a little baby death stalk growing out of the side of the plant. I am truly intrigued by this thing, and judging by the response the first article generated, it appears that Valley News readers are as well.

When the death stalk finally blooms, I will be sure and share some photos so readers can enjoy the beauty of it too. Something this amazing is just too good to keep to myself.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at


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