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Rare plant grows 15 feet after nearly 40 years in family home

Alberta man’s rare plant finally begins to bloom
WATCH ABOVE: Some of us struggle just to keep our houseplants alive but as Morgan Black explains, an Alberta man is excited about a rare plant of his that is enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime bloom.

A rare bloom is happening in a Leduc County home.

About 35 years ago, Robert Jong bought a houseplant from a friend.

It sat in the family home for many years until October 2019, when he noticed a small stalk growing out of the plant.

The Queen Victoria Agave plant early in bloom
The Queen Victoria Agave plant early in bloom Robert Jong
“I said [to my wife], ‘Priscille, it’s flowering!’ She said, ‘What is? That thing?'”
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The couple began to research the plant online. They discovered it was a rare Queen Victoria agave— expected to grow anywhere between two to five metres high, then bloom brilliant yellow buds.

“I didn’t think it would ever flower,” Jong explained. “I just thought it would sit there and grow very slowly.”

READ MORE: Gagnus, Edmonton’s new corpse flower, is in bloom at Muttart Conservatory

In the beginning, Jong said he was skeptical that the plant would reach its full height.

In October the plant grew 26 inches in six days.

“Every day we would come downstairs and it was another four to six inches in length,” he said. “We had to move it to another part of the house because it was getting too tall.”

The Queen Victoria Agave growing in Robert Jong's home
The Queen Victoria Agave growing in Robert Jong’s home Robert Jong

Priscille diligently kept track of the data, sharing the growth on social media with friends.

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“I tell my wife we are plant celebrities now,” Jong laughed. “Whenever my friends come over, the first thing they say is, ‘Where is the plant? I want to see the plant!’ They can’t believe it’s the same one that’s been sitting in our living room all these years.”

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Waiting for the bloom was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience for the duo, who feared in late November that the plant would not flower.

“They are native to Mexico,” Jong said. “In this part of the world [during winter], there’s very little light and very little heat. I thought it was going to mix up its cycle and not flower at all.”
The Queen Victoria Agave beginning to bloom
The Queen Victoria Agave beginning to bloom Robert Jong

Jong is also using his green thumb to attempt to grab a few seeds off the plant, by pollinating it with a paintbrush and turning on his ceiling fan.

“Maybe we could start a few new plants,” he said. “I won’t be around to see the bloom though!”

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The plant’s flowering is also the signal of the end of its lifespan. Jong estimates the plant has another few months left before it’s gone.

“I’ve had it for such a long time… oh well… that’s what nature does,” he said.

In the meantime, Jong said he’s enjoying a unique experience.

“I’m the only person I know that has this plant. I’m certainly the only person I know that’s had it flower in Alberta!”

Jong also offered some advice for those who struggle to keep regular houseplants alive.

“[People] love houseplants to death! They overwater the plants,” he said. “Plants have a rest period. Every plant needs to take a breather. They aren’t growing because they are resting.

“I just let it do its thing. I think I watered the agave once since it came in the house in September.”