By Kennedy Meehan
Though they’ve been part of the landscape for more than two decades, two Agave Americana “century plants” at Wrightsville Beach’s Blockade Runner are becoming the center of attention this summer as the unique plants prepare to bloom for the only time in their lifecycle. And with sprouts as high as three stories, these 25-year-old plants will be easy for visitors to spot before their expected bloom in July.
“I’ve been working here for 30 years so I’ve seen these plants from the beginning,” said Aubrey Doggett, the grounds keeper at the Blockade Runner. “They just sprouted out of nowhere and they just started budding.”
In the beginning of May, the two Agave plants were barely as tall as the first story. Today, these plants can be seen from the third story. Baby Agave plants have also sprouted from the roots, giving hopes for more plants like this to come.
With this year’s unique weather conditions and renovations around the hotel, these two plants have been well stimulated in the past few months, Doggett said.
“This year’s rain has been different, getting 4 to 5 inches of rain at once and then not seeing rain for a week, which has given us really dry weather. There haven’t been those frequent showers that we’re used to and when it rains heavy, the rain just runs right off the plants,” Doggett said. “I didn’t mow the grass until May this year, which I usually start doing in early April. It was really hot and then got cold again, making the weather really different from previous years, which may be why these plants have had such a sudden growth.”
The recent renovations to the beach side of the resort have also contributed to the plants’ growth, Doggett said.
“With painting and scraping and the construction, we’ve had to trip and cut off parts of the plant, which kept it stimulated throughout the recent months,” he said. “They’re also in a protected spot, which gives them protection from the north winds.”
This spontaneous sprout has made the plants a star on the Blockade Runner’s social media account, as hotel staff said the community is looking forward to the bloom.
“These plants are signature to the Blockade Runner, which makes this such a rare occasion,” said Samantha Black, Blockade Runner’s digital marketing coordinator.