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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - November 09, 2009

From: Comfort, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Problems with Agave americana in Comfort TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have lost a huge agave americana and are not able to find out what to do for our others. The one we lost was rotted or eaten (beetles?) at the base and the whole thing just fell over. We have a lot of very big ones and don't want to lose any more. Is there some treatment we should use? We cannot find any information or help with this.

ANSWER:

Agave americana (American century plant) is a tough desert plant; ordinarily information on it contains the phrase "no pests or diseases of any major concern." However, a little more research found several things that could be causing your problem.

Fungal lesions on agave are caused by soil-borne pathogens, including the fungus Fusarium, which can cause root and crown rot. A bacteria called colletotriachum causes anthracnose in the agave. It tends to occur in moist conditions, when the agave is in too much shade or is being irrigated from overhead. This is usually in concert with infestation by agave snout weevils. The agave snout weevil feeding on the agave enables these pathogens to enter. Once the microbes have entered the plant, there is no reliable control for the bacterial and fungal infections. From Centralarizonacactus.org Treating Agaves to Prevent Agave Snout Weevil Infestation by Tom Gatz, you can get more information on these problems.

For future problems, first avoid overhead watering, or just overwatering. If there is rainfall, you don't need to water agaves. During a dry period, watering them once a month suffices. Agave needs very good drainage. If water from irrigation or rainfall is puddling around the base of the agave, that will surely cause the fungal problems to be worse. Do not try to use transplants of "pups" from the affected agave, as they may already have the infection in their system. When a plant starts to show symptoms of these problems, remove it quickly to prevent spreading the disease to other plants. Located in Kendall County as you are, you shouldn't have that much trouble with damp, but apparently you have been. This is really one of those situation in which prevention is the only way to avoid losing more plants. See this article from HGTV.com on Agave meltdown.

From Google, images of  Agave americana (American century plant)

 

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Are century plants (Agave spp.) poisonous?
September 24, 2008 - About 2 weeks ago, I was poked in the arm by a Century Plant, which caused a pretty big bruise to form. I didn't think much of it at first, but now, 2 weeks later, the bruise hasn't healed at all. S...
view the full question and answer

Protecting agave pups in San Antonio
April 23, 2013 - I would like to share the soon to happen bloom of two century plants on my property; they are sisters planted at the same time. I am sad to know they will die but will do all that I can to protect the...
view the full question and answer

Film growing on prickly pear from Austin
September 28, 2012 - We've just xeriscaped our front & back yards. Two of the spineless prickly pear cacti have a beige film growing on the paddles. The film is now moving further up the cactus, and one of the upper pad...
view the full question and answer

Speeding up growth of Hesperaloe parviflora (red yucca)
January 12, 2012 - I have germinated Hesperaloe parviflora, Red Yucca, for our Caddo Native plant sale. I have kept in the cool greenhouse for 2 months and they are about 2 inches. A friend put one outside and they froz...
view the full question and answer

Specimen evergreen for sun in Central Texas
August 28, 2010 - I'm soliciting suggestions for a specimen plant for a new garden we're building. It will be planted in a 3' square raised (18") Limestone bed. It will be full sun, Western exposure, and relative...
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