The Whale’s Tongue ‘Agave Ovatifolia’

Agave Ovatifolia Image

If you are looking for a succulent to fill up your outdoor garden space or to line up your driveway, then the Agave is probably the succulent you are looking for.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue Garden @og_agave

The Whale’s Tongue

The Whale’s Tongue type of the Agave succulents is an evergreen perennial succulent that grows up to 5 feet above the ground and acquires a maximum width of 6 feet. The succulent’s foliage grows into a rounded rosette of short, broad grey leaves that take up a distinctively cupped shape. The leaves have teeth-like smaller spikes along its edges. At the center of the rosettes grows a 1-inch dark grey terminal spine that holds the flower of the plant. During the flowering season, the spine grows to a height of 14 feet above the ground with greenish-yellow flowers at the top.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Agave ovatifolia and Sedum ‘Lemon Ball’ @greenlakenurseryt

Geographical And Name Origin

The Agave Ovatifolia traces its nativity to the North American regions of Mexico. The specific name of this succulent comes from the Latin words ‘ovatus’ for “egg” and ‘folius’ for “leaves.” The title refers to the broad ovate leaves and the common name, whale’s tongue agave, also describes the leaf shape.

Take a look at other succulents from Mexico in “5 Most Popular Succulents From Mexico”.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue in Nature @botanizeme

How To Care For Whale’s Tongue Succulent

The Whale’s Tongue species is a hardy crop that does not require hands-on and around the clock care. The succulent is a slow-growing yet dramatic plant and will thrive in a bit of neglect. The plant is easy to grow, even under the harshest of conditions.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue doesn’t require much attention @cyphouter


This species is propagated either by seed or by bulbils. Unlike the rest in the genus that are generated by offsets. The spreads are collected after the flowering phase has ended. Although this may take a while, owing to the fact that this species is a perennial succulent. Meaning they live long lives of three or more years. The flowering mostly takes place on their second year of growth, and they die off after the blooming phase is over.

Check out our EbookThe Right Way to Propagating Succulents Successfully” for a full guide on propagating your succulents correctly.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Agave ovatifolia @og_agave

Best Soil Mix

The Whale’s Tongue species does well in any fast-draining, well-ventilated, and well-fertilized soil mix. This succulent does well in almost all soil pH values. Although their preference lies on the neutral rocky and sandy soils. Just like most of its counterparts’ succulent plants, the shallow roots need to be periodically in contact with moisture and air. The ideal growing medium should be coarse, gritty, and lightweight as compact soil inhibits air circulation. Compact soil also promotes waterlogging, which may lead to the roots rotting. Check out “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?” for more tips on taking care of your succulent pot.


What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue environment @botanizeme

Best Lighting Conditions

This succulent flourishes in either full exposure or partial sunlight. The hotter the climate, the more shade they require. Otherwise, if exposure is too intense, the leaves grow tilted upwards compacting the rosette, making them appear smaller. This is evident as in the hotter seasons the succulent grows smaller and widens as the temperatures lower as you approach the much colder seasons of autumn and winter.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Blueish tone Agave @sacredelements

Best Watering Conditions

The Agave Ovatifolia watering schedule is more frequent when the plant is in its early life stages. At this growing phase, the watering is done every four to five days a month. But as it matures the exercise is spaced out to at least once or twice a month. At maturity, the watering is done scarcely owing to the fact that this succulent is drought resistant. If the plant is on a larger scale, an irrigation system is ideal for watering. But in the case it is on a smaller and more manageable size, using a water hose to thoroughly soak the soil with water once or twice a month is ideal.

The watering is, however, done according to the weather. The watering is ideally best during the summer when the plant experiences it’s most active phase. But during the winter watering is reduced only to maintain the turgidity of the leaves, and is done only when the soil is dried.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Cacti Garden @hamiltongardens

Fertilizer Application

This particular species does not require any fertilizer application as long as the soil mix is well maintained. However, if one intends to maximize its growth in the shortest time possible a 10:10:10 fertilizer is the most suitable choice. The best way to administer the fertilizer into the soil is by diluting the fertilizer with water. And applying it as you water your succulent.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
5 ft. Whale Tongue @agaveobsessed

Pest And Disease Control

The Agave Ovatifolia’s hardiness plays to the advantage that the succulent is tolerant to most pests. The exception, however, is the agave snout weevil that burrows into the center of the plant and lays its eggs there. This disrupts a healthy crop’s basic needs by damaging the tissues and results in the collapse of the succulent. Unfortunately, the pest infestation is noticed long after too much damage has been done. The grower then has no choice but to entirely uproot the succulent and kill all the grub to avoid further spread of the pest infestation.

As a preventive measure, consider completely quarantining the younger succulents. Consider repotting them into a new soil mix, disposing of the old soil mix. Need more tips to repot your succulents? Check out “Repotting Succulents— the Right Way” for a full guide.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue in the shade @denray3


The pruning of your whale’s tongue succulent is ideally done at the end of the winter season to give space to new growth. The central aspect of trimming off is to avoid overcrowding of the leaves, reshaping the crop, and removing dead leaves. As well as eliminating any other damaged spears to create more room. The cutting should be done using a clean, sharp knife to make clean cuts to reduce the eventuality of bacteria, fungi, or virus entry into the crop. Check out these shears we found just for this cutting task.

Take great caution, though, to avoid over-trimming. Cutting too much of the succulent stresses the plant, impeding its ability to store water. Therefore, besides pruning the affected leaves, cut only the healthy ones if they are dangerous to passersby.

Be sure to wear protective gloves as the succulent contains a sap that irritates the skin on contact. Also, wear protective gear such as an overall to protect your hands and legs from scratching by sharp tips.

Be sure also to check out “How To Prune Succulents” for more guide to pruning your Whale’s Tongue.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Outdoor Whale’s Tongue Repotted @nancylovesnature


Repotting an Agave Ovatifolia is not necessary in case it is in the ground. But repotting may be necessary if the area is susceptible to disease or pest infestation. To repot, you require the right soil mix that is well-drained and well-ventilated. Secondly, you will need the right tools to carry out the activity, such as the proper attire, a sharp knife, a hand trowel, and a shovel for the bigger, more mature ones.

First, you moisten the soil before uprooting the succulent. Then gently remove the dirt from the plant’s roots to dislodge the crop slowly and carefully using your hands. Slowly remove the plant from the ground and gently remove the excess dirt from the roots. Next, you place the plant into the new soil and plant it shallowly and keep the crown above the soil line. And after you have wholly anchored your crop, water the succulent entirely and provide it with ample sunshine.

This activity should ideally be done during the active phase of the succulent so that the plant can flourish in the shortest time possible. Look at “Best Gardening Tools for Succulents” for more tips on repotting succulents.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Succulent Outside @thedangergarden

Safety Measures

Because the Whale’s Tongue species have sharp tips on their leaves that are edged with teeth like tapered sections, a few safety measures need to be taken. Whether the succulent is on a large scale or small scale, it should be planted away from foot traffic. The needle-sharp leaf tips are a hazard to both humans and pets. The plant, therefore, should not be planted along walkways and paths. Instead may be grown further into the garden or behind a well-fenced garden.

Caution is observed when handling the replanting, pruning, or repotting of the succulent. When handling this succulent, the handler should be well dressed in a long-sleeved shirt, have long pants on, well-covered shoes, sturdy gloves, and safety glasses. Above all, they should take great caution not to injure themselves when doing the abovementioned activities.

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Succulent City chief editor


Richard | Editor-in-chief at Succulent City

Hey everyone! I’m Richard. Welcome to my blog, which is all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, I began my journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, my fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and I gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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Posted in Succulents