The short-growing plant forms an interesting symmetrical rosette and well-defined leaves reaching one to two feet tall and two feet wide. It is usually stem-less and solitary in its growth habit. Butterfly agave has small, attractive, silvery blue leaves with reddish spines along the edges and a terminal spine. The species offers variations in its leaf shape, size, and color. After about ten years, in fall or winter months, it produces a ten- to fifteen-foot tall flower spike with a panicle of light green flowers tinged with red bracts. Use it in containers, rock gardens, low planters, and raised beds. The smaller agave looks nice when planted in groupings with other agaves species and in succulent gardens. The plant was used by the Nahuatl-speaking tribes in central Mexico to make an alcoholic beverage. It is native to the semiarid Mexican states of Puebla and Oaxaca, growing from 4,500 to 7,500 feet.
The plant enjoys full sun, hot conditions, reflected heat, and well-draining soil. Though it is drought-resistant, provide it with supplemental irrigation during the hot, dry summer. It is hardy to about twenty-five to thirty degrees Fahrenheit and needs some protection from frost.