HELP!

Use this forum to discuss matters relating to Agave, Beschorneria, Furcraea, Hesperaloe, Hesperoyucca, Manfreda, Polianthes, Yucca and related species. This is where one posts unknown plant photos for ID help.

HELP!

Post Number:#1  Postby lcobb3 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:50 pm

Hi All-

I am a new home owner and just discovering my love for gardening/plants/agaves! I need some guidance! We live in northern California. Plant Hardiness Zone is a 9 here. No snow, just rain and some cold nights (~30F at worst). We planted 8 beautiful agave attenuates in October. They were perfect looking agaves when we planted them. Healthy and full. We paid quite a bit for them. Now 3 months later the agaves look TERRIBLE. I don't know whats wrong!! Is it too cold here? Are they frost bitten? Do they need more water? Should I cover them with burlap at night?? PLEASE HELP!! I'd hate to lose these beauties!!

Photos are attached... :cry:
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#2  Postby Spination » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:06 pm

That's cold damage... A. attenuata is a more tropical plant - I believe it hails from the more lush environments of Oaxaca, Mexico.

I'm also in northern Cal, and I have to keep mine in a greenhouse kit - learned the hard way. Our low this season so far - 29 F. The low last season was 26, and the first freeze night we had mid Dec 2016, I did not have my heater set up within the greenhouse kit. My 'Ray of Light' suffered, so did A. ellemeetiana (also same climate as A. attenuata). This season with a small heater set up to at least keep temps above freezing at night before the first freeze night- no problem.

The point of my story is that even a plastic tent is not going to prevent damage if the temps hit freezing or below. They just can't take it that cold. If well established, they may well come back... unless the one-two punch of wet causes rot after the cold damage.

I'm sorry for the damage - they look like they were really nice.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#3  Postby Spination » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:11 pm

Let me add that IF there are no more subsequent frost/freeze nights this winter (32 F is the benchmark), then you could probably dust them with sulfur powder, try to keep them dry (cover with plastic)...and hope for the best. Otherwise, I would dig them up, pot them, again dust them with sulfur powder (to prevent fungal activity ----> rot), and keep them dry and warm.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#4  Postby Gee.S » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:11 pm

Sigh...

Sideways Photos

Dig 'em up and toss 'em You can't grow A. attenuata there.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#5  Postby Stone Jaguar » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:32 pm

^^^Indeed^^^

Get yourself a passel of ‘Blue Glow’. I had a couple hundred fully exposed to last year’s extremes in Woodside with nary a blemish (multiple 26-28 F predawn lows). ‘Blue Flame’ more the look of attenuata...by no means bullet-proof, but they do grow them well in Walnut Creek at Ruth Bancroft. The former generally less expensive than the latter, at this point.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#6  Postby Stan » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:54 pm

wow- where in norcal? Livermore? Redding? I do remember mine were slightly off colored in 2007's 30f over three or four mornings that year. This year as usual,no problems. Here with a fruiting White Sapote. I have a hard time throwing away extra A. attenuata..so that's why that's sort of on its own... I dont like some cultivars either like Kara's stripes. But- the blue ones? THOSE are very nice.
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Re: HELP

Post Number:#7  Postby Stone Jaguar » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:01 pm

Fully exposed to the sky and without some lateral protection providing heat transfer, almost anywhere would be my guess. Casimoroa edulis is commonly seen in CentrAm highlands an is known to be quite hardy to well below freezing...certainly to low 20s F for brief periods, so not a good yardstick. This winter’s weather in the SF Bay area has been exceptionally mild, so would not make any claims as to what will succeed here long-term based on it.

I have spoken to a couple of landscapers in this area who have ruefully admitted having installed attenuata out in the open in techie muckety-mucks’ gardens on the Peninsula after clients twisted their arms, only to have them blow up as soon as temps went below 30 F for a few days running. Certainly a question of taste, but IMO, the plant looks untidy and unremarkable even when it’s thriving.

Evidence that you, as a dedicated and informed grower, can succeed where many/most will fail is provided by photographs above. I have learned the hard way that single data points are dangerous to extrapolate from.

Why bother with pampering a banal plant when there is an enormous palette of handsome, cold hardy agaves, yuccas and furcraeas (not to mention cycads, etc) across every price point to choose from?
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#8  Postby Gee.S » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:23 pm

^Yup. It's one thing to battle the elements a bit for a plant you have a thing for (pretty sure we've all done that), but quite another to do so for landscape staples.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#9  Postby Gee.S » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:24 pm

Wait. Cold hardy Furcraeas? What madness is this? :))
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#10  Postby Agavemonger » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:37 pm

I agree; frost damage. It looks to me like you probably hit 28 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Where are you located? These are a few degrees tougher once hardened and established, but temps below 27 degrees Fahrenheit will always burn these, even as hardened plants, especially the touchier variegated clones. :frown:

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Re: HELP

Post Number:#11  Postby Stan » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:41 pm

Stone Jaguar wrote:Fully exposed to the sky and without some lateral protection providing heat transfer, almost anywhere would be my guess. Casimoroa edulis is commonly seen in CentrAm highlands an is known to be quite hardy to well below freezing...certainly to low 20s F for brief periods, so not a good yardstick. This winter’s weather in the SF Bay area has been exceptionally mild, so would not make any claims as to what will succeed here long-term based on it.

I have spoken to a couple of landscapers in this area who have ruefully admitted having installed attenuata out in the open in techie muckety-mucks’ gardens on the Peninsula after clients twisted their arms, only to have them blow up as soon as temps went below 30 F for a few days running. Certainly a question of taste, but IMO, the plant looks untidy and unremarkable even when it’s thriving.

Evidence that you, as a dedicated and informed grower, can succeed where many/most will fail is provided by photographs above. I have learned the hard way that single data points are dangerous to extrapolate from.

Why bother with pampering a banal plant when there is an enormous palette of handsome, cold hardy agaves, yuccas and furcraeas (not to mention cycads, etc) across every price point to choose from?

That's my Sapote...in the background is the A.attenuata.One of a few that I saved from thinning the clump in the front yard. I never considered them untidy..just the opposite. Elegant if common. Jay..A.attenuata is fine for the bay area. I mean,the peninsula as in SF and close?..that's close to ( or in SF is 10b) 10b and not likely to have seen many 30f morns in a row even in 2007. Actually I think even in 2007, SF and Oakland Palmetum never went below 35f.
This has been a mild winter- so if Agave attenuata got that beat up? No,its not for your climate. Because it will see the same next year and just fade away. If he likes that look- go for an Agave ovata or the A.parrya's. Hardy as rocks.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#12  Postby Stone Jaguar » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:42 pm

There are several freeze hardy furcraeas, Gee :cool: I would imagine one of the hardiest must be F. quicheensis, but there are some more or less esoteric ones that can also handle temps that will freeze the testicles off a brass monkey (e.g. high elevation ecotypes of F. guatemalensis and F. andina).

Stan, I’m spitting distance from the SF Bay in Redwood Shores and I got several 28 degree F hits last January. I mean Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Burlingame, San Carlos, etc. I would NEVER call this part of the Bay Area a 10B. One decent string of sub 30 F mornings can do a lot of cosmetic (or worse) damage to previously frost “tolerant” tropicals.

To contrast with last winter, it was 59 F at 0600 hrs here this morning. Don’t recall it being under 38 F so far this winter, but am still concerned we’ll get a freak winter storm before we’re done.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#13  Postby Drel » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:35 pm

Can confirm that Attenuata grows splendidly here in the East Bay as we have little trouble with frost. Here's an especially pretty one I saw earlier this week.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#14  Postby Stone Jaguar » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:24 am

Nice image, Drel. Please note that the person/s who designed this install was/were careful in how it was placed and it does appear to have tree canopy overhead, assuming that is a live tree shown behind it.

For people who *must have* Agave attenuata and are looking for a few degrees more cold tolerance, as I mentioned earlier, 'Blue Flame' (shawii x attenuata) may be a good option. Apparently hardy to 25 F...previous fall install proved hardy in Woodside to 26 F in Jan 2017 on a couple of mornings with almost zero visible damage to plants.

Here are a recently installed trio over by Stan's, right on the water on the east Bay in Alameda, taken this past Sunday. These are fully open to the sky and arrayed very much like the plants shown at the beginning of this post. There were several plots that formed a line like this one for a total of ~a dozen plants. Given the neighborhood, rather surprised that they haven't been vandalized since right beside a well-trafficked public sidewalk.

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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#15  Postby Azuleja » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:42 am

I would say 26F is right around the threshold for A. 'Blue Flame.' At that temp I got a good amount of damage on young exposed plants. The ones with some environmental protection did fine.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#16  Postby Stone Jaguar » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:08 am

Good observation. Size matters with these things, as we know. The type of brief dips we saw here last year to the mid-20s has much greater impact on an exposed smaller plant in a pot than a well-rooted large plant in the ground. The big 'Blue Flame' colonies at Ruth Bancroft must see pretty challenging temps every year. That aside, it seems to me that this hybrid is a far better bet than an expensive attenuata 'Boutin Blue' for the same look. Those poor, frostbit buggers in the pics above look like they're going to take ages to recover, if at all.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#17  Postby Stan » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:15 pm

Whoo- that's a beauty of a variegated A.attenuata. Can't be Kara's stripes that I've seen. All I've seen had very pale yellow...just made the whole plant look bland. Now if they can combine that yellow with a Blue Flame- I'm on board.
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#18  Postby Spination » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:26 pm

Stan wrote: Can't be Kara's stripes that I've seen.


https://www.smgrowers.com/products/plan ... nt_id=3158

I don't know. Maybe they're not all created equal?
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Re: HELP!

Post Number:#19  Postby Agavemonger » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:00 pm

Agave attenuata and it's related clones and hybrids are very fickle to frost. Some years, hardened-off, in-the-ground plants seem to do fine even at a-few-to-several degrees below freezing. Other years they can be torched by temperatures just at freezing or a degree or two below freezing. It seems to possibly have something to do with how turgid (% of water content) the leaves are at the time of frost. Hardened, yellowed-out, basically ignored plants seem to normally have several degrees more frost resistance than perfectly grown healthy plants.

I recently provided several truckloads of quite a variety of Aloes, Agaves, and related genera to a large (several acre) project situated on a small leveled mesa-like area in the Poway, California region. The plants were supposed to be installed last spring, which would have given them 6 months or so to harden off before the onset of frost. Through various construction-related delays, they were not installed until October-through-the-first-of-the-year. I was naturally quite concerned, as several of the species were reputed to be somewhat-to-definitely frost sensitive, but the designer insisted on installing them anyway. There were a lot of quite hardened, beautifully colored-up Aloes included in the group. Most were planted on level ground about 200 feet above a fairly substantial creek & canyon running east-to-west, and terminating in the Mt. Woodson - Iron Mountain ridge about four miles East of the project.

From many years of past experience, it was obvious to me that there would be a vast river of cold air drainage that would flow down the canyon on any really cold winter night. Temperatures in the creek bottom could be expected to occasionally drop below twenty degrees Fahrenheit. On a typical frost-prone evening in San Diego County we usually have a gentle off-shore (East-to-West) wind blowing, which is quite efficient at picking up river-bottom cold air and unceremoniously dumping it on elevated areas well above the river bottoms.

Anyway, to make a long story at least somewhat shorter, we have had an exceptionally warm winter so far this year. I have been out to the project a lot this year either to consult or to review progress on the plantings, and everything has been doing great, with no signs of frost damage to any of the plants I provided.

There were several substantial groups of totally hardened, large Agave attenuatas, replete with many offsets, that were originally on the project site for many years. They were dug up from their original home, then carefully "heeled" into a soil pile for several months. They were then divided and installed on a graded 30 degree slope above a very large parking lot at the site. Several others were planted in the level areas. They were all doing just fine about a month after planting. Last week, on one of my usual recoinnoiters of the Site grounds, I noticed that the plants planted on the slope were severely frost-burned, perhaps two-to-five inches down each and every leaf on all the plants. None of the plants installed on the level areas directly below the damaged plants suffered any damage whatsoever.

Now this just flat-out defies explanation. Normally, hilly areas can be expected to have great cold air drainage, which drains downhill into level areas where the cold air will pool and create far colder, still-air areas capable of producing far more damage than well-draining areas. (Cold air flows downhill and pools in flat areas very much like water would). I simply cannot explain how this happened. The damage is exactly the opposite of what could be expected.

The moral of the story is that Agave attenuata cultivars and hybrids are exceptionally prone to severe frost damage on occasion. There often seems to be no rhyme or reason whatsoever to the degree of damage experienced, or completely avoided, regardless of the temperature range or degree of hardening. From many of my own experiences, for all realistic intents and purposes, Agave attenuata varieties and hybrids should largely be considered "tropicals" over the long haul.

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