Stressed Agaves

rhairJune 30, 2010

Hello!! New forum member here. I can't believe all the great info on this forum!!

I've got a problem I'm hoping somebody can help me with. I'm new to Arizona and love the look of cacti and succulents but have so much to learn!! I planted two Agave Americana in mid-May in pots. Now it appears the pedals(?) are closing up. Is it the heat? I've been giving them a good drink once a week since temps have gotten above 100. Is that too much?

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.

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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I would back way off on the watering. Cacti like it dry, dry, dry when they are rooting. I'm no expert on this subect and hope someone else wanders in to give more details, that's just what I've been told in the past when getting cactus pups from someone.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 4:45PM
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They are very susceptible to root rot if they are watered too often, or too soon after planting.

Take them out of the pots, hose the dirt off the roots and put them in the shade or in a box in your house. Clip any rotted roots off, making the cuts in white, healthy root tissue.

Let them dry out for a couple of days, then plant them in DRY potting mix meant for succulents, or a mic of 1/3 to 1/2 sand and ordinary potting mix.

DO NOT WATER THEM YET. Keep the pots in the shade for a week or so, then throughly soak the pot by dunking it until the bubbles stop coming out.

Wait until the pot is dry, then dunk it again. Keep them in the shade until they start growing again.

Even succulents have a hard time in the sun in pots ... their roots have no refuge from the heat like they would in the ground. When I had potted plants, I used double pots - the plant in its pot inside one that was several inches larger. That layer of air helps shade the roots. You can also use pot cluster, with low spreading sun-lovers in front of the taller pots to shade them.

I found that morning sun or the filtered shade of a mesquite was best for my potted succulents, even for species that could normally handle direct sun in the ground.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 10:44AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I love agaves too and grow quite a few, A. americana included. Most of mine are in the ground but I do have a few americanas in pots. How much sun does yours get? Is there a hole in the bottom of the pot for water to drain away? Is the pot sitting in a saucer? They're generally happiest in pots with holes in the bottom and without a saucer so that they don't sit in water which is a concern it sounds like all of us are wondering about. We'd love to hear more about how you're growing your plants.

I'll just say that my largest potted Agave americana is in a large unglazed pot with a large drainage hole in the bottom. I put some mesh over the hole and then put a one inch layer of perlite in the bottom before adding soil, so that water can get out easily and quickly. I've got the pot near a western wall so the agave gets direct sun from sunrise until mid-day and then shade the rest of the day. I water it once a week in summer and maybe once every month in winter. It loves life in these conditions though as Lazy and Mary mentioned, it will get angry if it's in full sun all day all summer. Its siblings are in full sun all day all year but they're in the ground.

I love Lazy's approach to dealing with things, so let us know what you do and how it works out. Any pics or additional information would be good.

I do love agaves and I hope everything works out for yours. Keep us posted!

Take care,

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 4:35PM
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These two agaves are in large resin pots. I did use cacti/palm potting mix. We drilled several (six-eight) dime sized holes in the bottom of the pots and I put a layer of pea gravel in the bottom of the pots. They are sitting on concrete stepping stones, not saucers, so I think they are probably draining ok.

As far as sun, they are in full sun all day. I would move them to shade, except we don't have any in the back yard:( The neighbor behind us cut down their Mesquite tree last fall that shaded half our back yard!! We have planted a couple Shammel Ash trees but it's going to take a year or two before they provide decent shade. I could move them to the front yard as we have two nice sized Chinese Elm up there but not a lot of space for big pots like these.

I tried to post a couple pictures but struggled with how to do that on this forum and finally gave up. If anybody can provide some insight into that problem I would love to put up some pictures!!!

I will try lazygardens advice and keep my fingers crossed.

Thanks to you both for your help!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 12:29AM
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arizonny(z9 Tempe)

This board needs a "help" listing. Anyway...This is the easiest way to post pics.

You need to have a host such as Photobucket then, [img src=""]
where you use less than symbols instead of the [ and ].
Type that exact code into your GW message but put the URL of your pic within the quotes.

Post 'em up. I love to see peoples pics.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 12:17PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Re: posting pictures, I have copied this string into a Word document:

the less than sign img src="PASTE HERE" the greater than sign

I can't put those symbols in because they are part of the code and the string does not show up. I'll email the instructions.

I made the words PASTE HERE large font and bright red. Then I highlight the words "paste here" and paste in the properties of the picture from Shutterfuly (in my case) within the double quotes. This has worked the best for me, especially since I don't do it that often, it's easy to forget.

Like arizonny says, you need an on-line photo account, like Shutterfly, Photobucket, of those. Then you enlarge the picture, right click, Properties and that gives you the URL to copy and paste into that string.

Hope this helps. It took me lots of tries and much patience on the part of Grant who helped me.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 3:54PM
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Ok. I'm gonna try to post a couple pictures.

Here is a "before" picture from the day I planted the agaves:

Here is the "after" picture of the way they look now:

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:35AM
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Well, that didn't work. Let me try again.



    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:58AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Congratulations on posting the pics, they definitely worked! You know, I think those agaves look much better than I was expecting from your description, so that's good. :) They look pretty good to me, maybe a bit of heat and sun stress. If you can give them some sort of shade it will help, but honestly, if they were mine, I'd probably leave them as they are. I bet they'll look great again come autumn.

Some of mine in the ground in full bore sun get a little yellowed in mid-summer and then deepen up again in autumn, and they do get that upright leaf look in the heat of summer but then perk up later. Let's see what everyone else thinks. I think all things considered they look pretty good, maybe a bit heat/sun stressed but I bet they'll pull through just fine.

Take care and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 5:03PM
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Thanks, Grant in Az. That's good news!! So do you think I should I keep watering once a week while it is this hot?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:29PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I think once a week sounds about right. That's what I give my potted ones and they seem very happy. One thing you might think about is buying some of those little "pot feet" that you put under the pots to raise them up off the ground. That will help cool their roots a bit. You can by individual "feet" or small plastic footed rings that you rest the pots on. Believe it or not, it really does help keep them cooler (less hot? LOL). I use them for most of my full-sun pots that are on my patio or on the ground. Just a thought.

Take care,

Here is a link that might be useful: terracotta pot feet (use 3 or 4) to raise pots

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:41PM
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