En Español

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?


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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - March 09, 2011

From: Myrtle Beach, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Need advice about an agave that didn't survive the winter in Myrtle Beach, NC.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I live in Myrtle Beach, S.C. bought an agave big last summer and it died in the winter. Some green is showing on the bottom should I cut it all down because the whole top is dead. Thank you


Mr. Smarty Plants is sorry to hear of the demise of your agave. You didn't mention which agave you had, so he went to our Native Plant Database and typed in the word "agave". He found a list of 14 species of agaves that occur naturally in the US in states that are far away from North Caroliina, eg Texas, New Mexico Arizona and California, which sort of gives us a clue as to why your agave didn't survive.

Was your plant in a pot or in the ground? Potted plants are often more susceptible to cold damage than plants that are in the ground.

What to do?  If you want to try to salvage the plant, carefully remove  the dead material so that healthy tissue can regenerate. Usually the first stage is the formation of callus tissue which will give rise to new tissue. Your plant maybe too far gone, but with a little patience, you could possibly revive it.

Here is a previous answer to a question about frozen agaves, and this link to Arizona Cooperative Extension discusses help for frozen cactus plants.


More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Lesions on Agave Leaves in Spring Branch, Texas
January 14, 2011 - I have a giant Agave americana that was beautiful until recently. Several of the leaves have lesions, some of them quite drastic, on the last third of the leaf. What is causing this?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Strawberry Hedgehog cactus from Temple TX
June 03, 2012 - I had purchased a Strawberry hedgehog Cactus (echinocereus stramineus) a few years ago from the Wildflower Center's annual plant sale and planted it then. It has now started to brown from bottom to t...
view the full question and answer

Bringing upright a leaning cholla cactus
August 29, 2013 - I have a 3 ft. tall Cylindropuntia bigelovii that fell over after recent rains. I righted it and supported it with garden stakes for about a month. I was afraid to pull too hard on the low...
view the full question and answer

Source for DNA sequencing of Opuntia species
March 04, 2014 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I am trying to do a Opuntia speciation study, and rather just identifying the species by morphological comparison, I would also like to go a little deeper by comparing the DNA...
view the full question and answer

Cat eating yucca stalks in England
May 07, 2013 - Is it safe for my cat to eat yucca as she is being sick and its hard to stop her
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center