Does Agave sisalana (sisal) Need To Be Watered?

Does Agave Sisalana (Sisal) Need To Be Watered?

Sisal cultivation does not require irrigation because the plant is drought hardy and is grown as a rainfed crop.

However, the processing of sisal leaves is exceedingly water demanding, with one ton of fibres requiring an average of 100 m3 of water.

Plants are not as drought resistant as most agave species and require more water. Water plants and allow them to dry before watering again.

Only water enough to keep the leaves from shriveling throughout the cold months. Plants that have been ground are more resistant to drought and salty beach environments. Once planted, little to no watering is required to keep the plant alive.

When Do You Fertilize Agave Sisalana (Sisal)?

Sisal is an environmentally friendly fiber that requires practically little fertilizer to grow.

Fertilizer is usually not required when sisal is grown on fresh ground, but it is usually required when it is established on old land. Fertilize only once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.

It was also suggested that once the leaf had been decorated, the leftover material be ploughed back.

Where the pH is less than 6,0, lime should be added. Chemical fertilizers used in sisal fertilization include urea, lime-ammonium nitrate (LAN), and superphosphate.

Where Is The Natural Habitat Of Agave Sisalana (Sisal)?

Agave sisalana appears to be a sexually sterile clone frequently grown in fiber farms, and it may be of hybrid origin within the Agave vivipara-complex (as Agave angustifolia).

Agave sisalana’s natural origin is unknown. It was once thought to be a native of the Yucatán Peninsula, but there are no botanical specimens from there.

Originally, they were supplied from the Spanish colonial port of Sisal in Yucatán (thus the name). H.S. Gentry proposed a Chiapas origin based on customary local use.

Evidence of an indigenous cottage business there shows that it was the initial habitat place for Agave angustifolia, potentially as a hybrid between Agave angustifolia and Agave kewensis.

It is currently grown primarily in Florida, the Caribbean islands, Brazil, and Africa (most notably Tanzania and Kenya), but it has escaped and naturalized in other parts of Mexico, as well as Spain, Libya, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, many parts of Africa, Madagascar, Réunion, Seychelles, China, the Ryukyu Islands, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, the Solomon Islands, Queensland, Polynesia, Micronesia, Fiji,

Is Agave Sisalana Invasive?

The Aztecs and Mayans utilized sisal to produce garments and paper.

Sisal agriculture extended to Florida, the Caribbean islands, and Brazil (Paraiba and Bahia) in the nineteenth century, as well as nations in Africa, particularly Tanzania and Kenya, and Asia. According to legend, sisal “came to Africa from Florida via the mechanism of a magnificent German botanist named Hindorf.”

It was brought to Cuba by Fernando Heydrich in Matanzas in 1880.

The first commercial plantings were established in Brazil in the late 1930s, and the first sisal fiber exports were produced in 1948. Brazil’s output did not pick up until the 1960s, when the first of several spinning mills was built.

Brazil is now the world’s largest producer of sisal. Growing sisal has both beneficial and bad environmental consequences.

How Do I Identify Agave Sisalana?

Sisal is a monocotyledon that grows to be quite tall. It is a smooth, straight, and faintly golden fiber. Sisal is a resilient plant that grows quickly all year and may reach a height of 15.2 cm in 9 months after planting and 0.6 m after 2 years.

The plant grows for 7 to 12 years, producing 120 to 180 leaves depending on location, altitude, rainfall level, and plant type.


A 20 cm long stem forms two to three years after transplantation and will reach a height of roughly 1.2 m while flowering.

White, fleshy stems sprout from subterranean buds at the plant’s base, first horizontally and then upwards to generate new plants.


The sisal plant has a shallow, fibrous root system that is a maximum of 60 cm deep.

The 2 to 4 mm thick root emerges from leaf scars beneath the soil surface at the base of the bole and spreads horizontally up to 5 m away from the mother plant, forming suckers that can be utilized for multiplication.


The plant has stiff, heavy, persistent leaves that are 0,6 to 1,2 m long, 10,2 to 20,3 cm wide, and 2,5 to 10,2 cm thick when matured.

The leaves are spirally arranged around the stem, greyish-green in color, and wax-coated. The plant’s leaves contain 3% coarse, cream-colored or pale-yellow fibers.


The sisal plant flowers only once and that are at an age of about 12 years. A flower stalk of 4,5 to 6,0 m grows from the growth point before to blossoming.

The flower stalk separates into branches, which carry the blooms. Flowers do not generate seed, but instead develop bulbils that are utilized for reproduction.


The plant’s base is a short trunk around 30 cm x 150 cm in size. The leaves are arranged in a spiral around the trunk.

The growing point from which the leaves and, eventually, the flower stalk originate is located on top of the trunk.

Is Agave Sisalana (Sisal) Poisonous?

The plant’s raw sap is corrosive and extremely irritating to the eyes and skin. When swallowed, calcium oxalate needles in the sap are considered to induce irritation and swelling of the tissues of the mouth and throat.

Contact with the sap from the cut leaves causes rapid burning, redness, stinging, and swelling, followed by blistering that cure in two weeks.

When sap gets into the eye, it causes irritation and temporary blindness. Infection and inflammation of puncture wounds generated by the sharp leaf tips near bone resulted in a granuloma-like response.

To protect people and animals, the sharp spine at the apex of its serrated leaves is sometimes removed.

How Do You Control Pests In Your Agave Sisalana (Sisal)?

Sisal is remarkably free of pests and illnesses, with the agave weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus) being the sole major insect pest. Scyphophorus interstitialis is a synonym.

Sisal is an environmentally beneficial fiber that requires nearly no chemicals to cultivate because to its disease resistance.

The following are some examples of common pests and diseases:

The sisal weevil (Scyphophorus interstitialis)


The adult weevil or the larval weevil destroy sisal plants. The larvae do significant harm to the underground sections of young plants.


The presence of brownish-grey speckled patches, usually elliptical or rounded\sand infested plant grows slowly.

The grub (larva stage) bores into the bole of the young plant, creating a tunnel.

Rotting then occurs, and the plant dies.

The adult weevil feeds in the axils of the uppermost leaves, near the developing spike, coloring the fibres.


  • Cultural management strategies include using non-infected planting materials, removing dead boles, and avoiding contaminated areas (sanitation measures).
  • To reduce infestation, use guard rows supported by split boles with insecticide-dusted cut surfaces.
  • Chemical control: the use of approved pesticides.
  • Biological control by natural enemies of the sisal weevil, such as predators like Placodes ebeninus Lewis, a beetle that feeds on the live larvae in decaying sisal boles.
  • Planting before or during early rains, as well as applying registered/recommended insecticides to the soil surrounding young plants, can help manage the pest.

What Is The Ideal Temperature For Agave Sisalana (Sisal)?

Sisal (Agave sisalana) is a blooming plant that is native to southern Mexico but has been widely grown and naturalized in many other countries.

Subtropical areas are ideal for growing sisal. The plant thrives in hot climates with temperatures ranging from 10 to 32 °C.

The maximum temperature should be between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius, with a minimum of 5 degrees Celsius. The temperature should never go below 10° C when cultivated as a houseplant. Frost resistance is limited.

Is Agave Sisalana (Sisal) Hardy?

Agave sisalana is an evergreen Perennial that grows quickly to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft). It is frost tender and hardy to UK zone 10.

Light (sandy), medium (loamy), and heavy (clay) soils are all suitable; it favors well-drained soil and may thrive in nutritionally deficient soil.

pH suitable soils: moderately acidic, neutral, and basic (mildly alkaline). It may thrive in semi-shade (light woods) or full sun. It grows well in dry or damp soil and can withstand drought.

Does Agave Sisalana (Sisal) Needs Rainfall?

Rainfall has a significant impact on fiber output. The plants are not cold hardy and yield best in locations with 500 mm or more of yearly rainfall.

A minimum yearly rainfall of 600 to 1500 mm is necessary. Sisal may also thrive in locations with infrequent or unpredictable rainfall.

Production in high-rainfall locations may be difficult because to weed infestation and disease outbreaks. Waterlogging causes growth to be hindered.

How Do You Control Agave Sisalana Weeds?

During the first two years, weed management is critical. Weeds should be managed manually, mechanically, or chemically in the first 2 to 3 years after transplantation.

Couch grass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.), nut grass (Cyperus spp.), African couch (Digitaria abyssinica (Hochst. ex A. Rich.) Stapf), Lalang (Imperata cylindrica (L.) P.Beauv.), cow-itch (Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC.), and Guinea grass are common weeds (Panicum maximum Jacq.).

Weeds can be left to grow during the rains and trimmed down at the start of the dry season after 2 to 3 years to preserve moisture and create mulch.

It is advised that cover crops be cultivated between the rows for the first three years following planting to maintain the field weed-free.

A modest weed cover is not hazardous until sisal is developed.

Weeds are often controlled by hand-hoeing while the crop is young and mowing or slashing when the crop is large enough to cut.

More cultivation should be done yearly in areas with considerable rainfall.

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