Pruning frostbitten agaves

lemonlime(Denver 5)March 13, 2013

Hello all, I hope I can get some advice on what to do with my poor frostbitten agaves. I'm in Phoenix and they suffered during our January freeze. I have several clumps of mature agaves and all of them, for the most part, are brown from the tips of the leaves down towards the center of the plant. They aren't dead though; there is still green in the middle. However, am I right that if I trim off the "arms", they won't grow back?

It seems like option A of trimming them will result in a misshapen, weird looking plant that will not restore itself to a normal looking plant.

I guess other option B is to dig them out and start over. There are a couple pups, but not every clump has pups.

So I'm trying to figure out how to proceed. Dig them all out and start over? Try to salvage them and live with the damaged look until they have pups? They are a prominent part of our landscaping, if that helps.


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GeeS 9b

Pics would help, so we can ascertain the type of Agave and extent of the damage.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 2:38PM
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I think it comes down to cost, can you afford to replace them? If it were me, I'd just prune off the dead parts and leave them be. Yes they'll look odd or maybe even unsightly for a year, but they should grow back into nice looking plants. Same with using pups, they'll be small for a year, but will eventually grow. It's really just up to you.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:25AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Sorry about the frost damage--that's never fun. My more tender types of agaves like Agave desmettiana got some serious leaf-tip damage, although the more cold hardy types like Agave americana and Agave parryi showed no damage at all. If your clumps were mine, I'd rip them out and discard them and replace them with Agaves that won't mind if we get another cold snap.

That being said, you can use a sharp serrated bread knife to saw off old or damaged leaves. If the crown/center is green it should grow out eventually and become a decent looking plant. We'd love a pic or three. :)

Let us know what you do and how it works out. Happy gardening!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 11:44AM
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