• Kelly Grummons

Cactus & Agave Frost Damage

Q: Some of our cactuses and Agaves got a lot of damage in that October deep freeze. We’ve had them for years and this is the first time that they’ve gotten winter damage. What can we do to avoid this in the future?


A: Tell me about it! I did see this kind of damage on some of my xeric plants also. When these extreme freezes occur in the fall before the tissues of these evergreen plants have hardened, we can expect to see this type of damage. Generally, the plants will recover but they can look scarred for a season or two. Because of this type of damage, I’ve covered my Agaves with a sheer “frost cloth” in early October every fall. This seems to protect the plant from extreme changes in temperature. The freezing and thawing of the tissues occurs more slowly allowing the plant cells to adapt more easily. You can find frost cloth at most garden centers and on line. It comes in various grades of density. A low to moderate density is sufficient. I would only apply it to plants that you have had trouble with. I first started using it years ago on some of the more sensitive dwarf conifers and broadleaf evergreens such as Rhododendrons.


Written by Kelly Grummons, who writes our Q & A column, is co-owner of the mail order nursery businesses, coldhardycactus.com and dogtuffgrass.com