Tony Krock demo: coring and cutting an agave

When I was in Santa Barbara recently, Tony Krock of Krock Nursery gave me a demonstration of how he cores and cuts agaves for propagation. Both methods may seem radical at first glance, but they’re highly effective in promoting the formation of pups. For professional growers like Tony, this is the fastest way to propagate rare plants for the collector’s market. In fact, it’s the only way for solitary agaves that normally don’t offset at all.

I filmed Tony’s demonstration and posted the video on YouTube:

The video is 13+ minutes long; I highly recommend you watch it in its entirety if you’re interested in finding out how Tony does it.

If you don’t have 13+ minutes to watch the video right now, here are the main steps:


For smaller agaves with a fairly narrow center, coring is a better technique than trying to cut the plant in half.

Coring is quick and easy:

Step 1: Reach all the way down into the center of the plant and snap off the cone of leaves with your hand.

Step 2: Using a sharp knife, dig out the center. Go pretty deep, otherwise the plant will simply grow back the leaves you removed instead of making pups. If you dig deep enough, pups will form from the leaf axils and possibly from below.

Step 3: Keep the plant in a dry, protected area and wait. Pups will typically begin to appear within 6 to 8 weeks. Some slower growing species can take a year or longer so don’t give up. On this variegated Agave ocahui, Tony expects 6-12 pups within a few months. Wait until the pups are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter before you remove them from the mother plant.


Cutting is Tony’s go-to technique for larger agaves with a more substantial center, like this choice clone of Agave oteroi.

Step 1: Remove the center with a knife.

Step 2: Unpot the plant to expose the root ball.

Step 3: Using a very sharp large knife (like a mini machete), cut through the center of the agave. Make you sure you line your knife up properly so the cut goes straight through the center of the plant and the center of the root ball.

Step 4: (Optional) After you separate the two halves, apply a light dusting of fungicide (like sulfur powder) to the cut surfaces.

Step 5: Pry out the cut immature leaves above the meristem area as well as a small tip from the meristem area itself.

Step 6: Pot up the two halves in separate containers.

Pups will form in the leaf axils and along the meristem. With a healthy plant like the Agave oteroi in the video, Tony expects 20+ pups on each half over a period of up to two years.

Below is one half of a variegated Agave horrida that was cut last year. It has produced about half a dozen pups, some all green and some variegated:

Wait until the pups are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter before you remove them from the mother plant. By then, they may have already formed their own roots.

Coring and cutting are proven techniques used by growers worldwide. They work on agaves and mangaves and possibly on other rosette-forming succulents as well.

Now that you know how to do it, have some fun and try it yourself!

A big thank you to Holly and Tony Krock for taking time out of their busy lives to give this demonstration. You can find Krock Nursery online on Etsy and eBay.

© Gerhard Bock, 2024. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. Wow, fantastic video and explanation by Tony, Gerhard! I enjoyed watching it so much!

    1. That makes me so happy to hear. I've been toying with the idea of doing more videos. For some things, it's just more effective than photos.

  2. Will definitely go watch the video! Thank you

  3. The after picture really sells the whole process. Hard to believe this works, but I am glad it does. I guess this means there will soon be a glut of rare and unusual agaves on the market that we will be able to buy and use as annuals up here in the cold, wet north!

    1. I wouldn't say glut because it's still a fairly slow process. But it's better than nothing at all.

  4. Oof, brutal to see that nice agave bisected (for now). I'm going to save this video for reference. I wonder if I can try this on my winter-wet damaged Lophantha to try and salvage it? I tried a different overwintering location for these than usual and It was not a success, I lost my favorite one.

    I know of Haworthia folks who do this also. Sometimes it's to try and get better variegation, so probably not quite as deep cuts as these. I've never seen a complete bisection done for those, though.

    1. I'd seen it done before, and yet when Tony cut that agave in half like a head of cabbage, I sucked in my breath. But it does work. As he said, he's never lost a plant.


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