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Kanab family cultivates a “once in a century” blossom

...or so is implied by the name of the plants that produce these towering blooms, called Century Plants. Century plants are members of the Agave family, and are simply somewhat larger than average succulents for the vast majority of their lives. However, as can be seen right now at the Kanab home of Marilyn Chatterley, a Century Plant will send up a towering stalk with multiple vibrant blooms once in its lifetime.

From left to right, photos by Ty Gant:

  • In reality it’s only a couple of decades before a century plant will bloom - that doesn’t make them look any less impressive!

  • Marylin agreed to take a picture with the century plant blooms for scale.

Once thought to only bloom after a hundred years - hence the name - Century Plants have been around long enough for patterns to prove they actually bloom after two or three decades. These particular plants were brought here and planted by Marilyn’s husband John eight years ago, and bloomed just recently.

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“They started out red, then went yellow as the stalk grew,” says Chatterley. “They grew so fast, I couldn’t believe it. They’re a foot tall one night, then the next day they’re another foot taller.”

These blooms hold a special significance for Marilyn: her husband John, who planted and cared for the plants, passed away only a month ago. “They were pretty much his work; I don’t have much of a green thumb myself, but he took good care of them,” she says. “Don’t worry, he didn’t miss them - he can see them from where he is.”

The blooms will last for about a month before wilting and signaling the end of the plant’s life cycle. Until then, people walking Kanab’s main street have the rare opportunity to see a “once in a century” bloom!

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