How to Save a Dying Agave Plant

By Karen Curley

Agave plants are succulents that feature thick, water-filled leaves. They thrive in dry, hot conditions and can live for long periods without water. If the weather is too harsh, agave plants becomes dormant, shedding leaves until they take in water again. Agave plants can also suffer from a variety of diseases and pest infestations. Examining your agave plant's symptoms is the best way to determine the best treatment to nurse the plant back to health.

Agave plant at gage hotel
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Examining agave leaves helps determine its health problems.

Freezing

Step 1

Examine the leaves of the agave plant for black areas. Freezing causes the agave leaves to turn black, eventually drying and falling off. Usually the agave plant recovers from external freeze damage when freezing temperatures only last a few hours.

Step 2

Transplant the agave near the house or in a patio area that receives warmth from the house. Carefully remove the agave plant from the soil using a garden shovel.

Step 3

Choose a well-drained area and plant the agave so that the agave tissue remains above the soil. Succulents planted too deeply cannot establish roots and eventually die.

Sun Damage

Step 4

Examine the agave for yellowing leaves and dropping leaves. Excessive sunlight causes these symptoms.

Step 5

Transplant the agave to an area with partial shade following the instructions in Section 1, Steps 2 and 3.

Step 6

Choose areas for transplanting where pine and oaks give partial shade or in an area protected from direct sunlight.

Anthracnose

Step 7

Examine your agave plant for orange or red spores or lesions on the leaves and leaf tops. Lesions form as a result of the spores. Wet weather is the cause of anthracnose, causing spores to spread over the plant from wind and rain.

Step 8

Remove the leaf and avoid watering the plant with a sprinkler if you find spores or lesions.

Step 9

Protect the agave from the rain with a plastic covering until the lesions disappear.

Helminthosporium

Step 10

Check for soft, dark spots on the upper area of your agave plant. A fungus from the Helminthosporium species forms spores that infect the agave when carried by wind and rain, resulting in leaf rotting.

Step 11

Apply fungicides to diminish the spread of the fungus by spraying both the upper and lower portions of the leaves. Spray fungicides around the agave base also.

Step 12

Remove excessively infected plants to prevent spreading the spores to other plants.

Insects

Step 13

Examine the agave plant for wilted or yellow, scarred leaves. Female weevils lay eggs inside the base of the plant, causing wilting leaves and plant collapse from surface wounds, while the agave plant bug causes yellow leaves.

Step 14

Apply broad-spectrum insecticides in the spring to control the agave weevil and plant bugs.

Step 15

Spray the insecticides around the plant base to thoroughly destroy any weevils living in the soil. Spray the insecticide on the upper and lower surfaces of all leaves to prevent agave bug plant infestation.