En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - August 21, 2008

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Damage to Agave in New Braunfels, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

In a flower box, I have an Agave on which the leaves have been damaged. It looks as if a deer rubbed his antlers on it. Is there any animal in south central Texas that would try to eat an agave?

ANSWER:

Times have been hard this summer in Central Texas, and lots of little (and big) animals are coming into home gardens to browse. However, it is unlikely that even deer would tackle an agave, and if they won't, we can't imagine any other animal that would. Few plants are completely deer resistant. Several factors influence deer browsing, including density of deer population, environmental conditions, such as drought, and plant palatability. Deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough, leathery and/or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap. Two agaves on our Deer Resistant Species list are Agave americana (American century plant) and Agave univittata (thorncrest century plant). They would simply be representative of all the native agaves in our Native Plant Database. Not only are they tough and prickly, but they have a very potent sap that we are warned to avoid contact with when we trim or transplant agaves by wearing heavy gloves and goggles. Deer are not tremendously smart, but it does seem doubtful they would try something like that.

Male deer shed their antlers between January and April. During the growth period of the bony antlers, which is Summer, they are covered with a sensitive skin called "velvet". Antler growth spans 2 to 4 months, after which the velvet withers, dries and falls off, often assisted by the deer, which rubs his antlers against tree bark. Mating season is in the Fall, so the velvet is usually being shed in early Fall. So, it is within the realm of possibility that the damage to your agave was caused by a deer that perhaps tried to have a bite, and decided if he couldn't eat it, he'd rub his itchy antlers on it.

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Boundary plants to control cats
June 06, 2006 - Is there a plant especially ANNOYING to cats that I could plant along my fence line to keep him away from the street beyond? It would have to be hardy enough for hot temps & full sun. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Debugging and Preserving Dried Cholla Cactus
January 04, 2014 - Hi. Recently found an intact skeleton of a cholla cactus. I want to Bring it in our house. Are there any dangers associated with this, like bugs inside the "branches?" how would you suggest I prese...
view the full question and answer

Yucca filamentosa suffering from damp feet in Houston
February 09, 2012 - Last year, I planted three enormous and gorgeous Yucca Filamentosa in my backyard. Two are thriving but the third started turning yellow then brown from the bottom up after a few weeks of rains. S...
view the full question and answer

Are agaves really native from Pacific Palisades CA
April 30, 2013 - I just replied re agave issues, and mistakenly asked the source of your information. I see that you clearly noted it, apologies. I would note, however, that the Riverside area is very much a hot,...
view the full question and answer

Soil for Agave americana
March 20, 2007 - Can you give me some information on soil admendments for growing Agave (Century Plant)? I kept it in a pot during the winter and now I am ready to plant it in my beds
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center