Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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
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

Use of Century Plant bloom as indoor decoration
December 09, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Pants, After living in Arizona and now San Antonio, I am in search of a Century Plant Bloom. I cannot have an evergreen because my cats climb them. I would shellac the stalk and blooms a...
view the full question and answer

Saving frozen yuccas from North Carolina
February 23, 2013 - I live in NC and have 2 potted yucca plants on my deck. Every year I have brought them in for the winter. This year, someone told us that we could leave them out all winter. They began to die in the c...
view the full question and answer

How to remove plume from Yucca elephantipes in NJ?
August 02, 2011 - In Manahawkin, NJ, how do we cut plume (2" diameter) off 10' Yucca elephantipes?
view the full question and answer

Yuccas and prickly pears for Warren MI
February 11, 2009 - What type of yuccas and prickly pears will survive in the Detroit, Michigan area? Also, can I grow Santa Rita prickly pear in a pot?
view the full question and answer

Will cochineal insects washed from cactus plants harm adjacent Oleander?
June 11, 2015 - Will mealybugs (cochineal insects) power washed off prickly pear cactus harm adjacent oleander plants if the white fluff gets on the oleander? My neighbor asked me to power wash my prickly pears and t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.