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Hi there, hope I'm posting this in the right place..
I transplanted 3 American agave to individual terra cotta pots during spring 2013. They all made it and have been growing happy since. My question is, during my zone 7a winter, do I need to bring them indoors? Or could I get away with bringing them in when I know it will dip below freezing? I don't mind doing this and would rather lug them in and out than have to find them a winter home in my already too crowded house! Wish I had a greenhouse already, maybe this year Santa will catch my hints! Anyone ever deal with this issue and have any creative suggestions? Also have some native cactus, same concern. Thanks in advance!
This is just a semi-educated aka half-wit guess, but I think you'll need to bring them in before a frost. Not sure where Lipan is, but it must be north or northwest of Dallas since we're in Zone 8. When I lived a little further south in Austin, we kept ours outdoors. But I doubt I could do that in Dallas. I would leave them out as long as possible. It might help them eventually get more acclimated to lower temps. However, I don't think they can handle a freeze.
Let's hope someone more knowledgeable than me will respond to your question. :D
Hi thanks for the reply.. I live an hour west of Fort Worth. That's what I figured, they came from stephenville, only a half hour south of where I live. I transplanted them from an outdoor garden where I'm positive they got no special treatment last winter, but they were also in the ground. Now I'm afraid that since they're in containers, they would completely freeze. Does terra cotta freeze? I would think so huh?
How big are the agaves? I'm thinking they must be big if they survived the winter in Stephenville. Or they were small enough to keep covered and all. But keep in mind that your plants have gone thru transplant shock from the ground to pots, and from S'ville to Lipan. And it sounds like they've done well. I think I wouldn't push them too far this first (for you) winter. One thing that's true for most outdoor plants is that it helps to water them right before a freeze. It raises their temp a little, don't ask me how. Anyway, I'd leave them outdoors for the fall (whatever that means around here) and just keep one eye on them and the other eye on the weather channel.
Some Terracotta will freeze while other more expensive types don't as they are treated for frost before they are sent to the kiln for firing.
The frost proof type are normally stamped as such BUT not always so there is a dilemma about it all.
I have grown these large Agaves by putting them outside from April to end of august then after that, they were brought indoors into a cold glass house, in the depth of winter I threw a
double sheet of horticultural fleece over the plants and when there was a little thaw from the frost I nipped outside to the greenhouse and removed the fleece, they survived for years with this treatment and gave many baby plants / offset's, I had to give them away to friends when they got too large for lifting in and out each year and dangerous LOL.
Give them some protection and believe me, they are much hardier than people think, there are occasions when nights in the desert get very cold but not sure about frost.
Good luck. WeeNel.
tx_flower_child, they were pups that had rooted beneath their dying mother this spring. Now they are 16", 12" and 10".. still babies compared to what they'll eventually become. That's so funny that you advise to water them before freezes.. I would have thought the opposite. That somehow, the drier the are, the less moisture in their tissue, less chance of them being damaged by a freeze. Maybe my mentality stems from seed saving and making sure the seeds are completely dry before storing in the freezer to prevent damage to them. So a big thank you, I'll be taking them indoors whenever the weather calls for a freeze or near freeze. Next year they'll be going in the ground anyway.. I plan on building a huge xeriscape bed!
WeeNel, thanks for the tip! I just purchased some terra cotta that are stamped "made in Italy". Wish it had their frost rating instead, lol. The pots they are planted in are different, I inherited them with the house. The woman here left all sorts of garden goodies, and I didn't even garden yet when we moved in. I joke that she has possessed me.. Aha! A young able bodied woman to vicariously plant through! Haha, she actually had an old metal bed frame in the yard, with one ancient rosemary still growing in it after years of neglect while on the market. I moved the rosemary and it's going strong, but I have another one I actually cut from for cooking. Wow, sorry I got way off topic!
That's a great suggestion for overwintering them. Maybe I'll move them into my unheated workshop for the winter instead, they would be less dangerous there.. those spines hurt!
Thanks! I like your name too, however the TX part would be a lie as I am not a native.. I suppose I am one of those pesky invasive species!! Lol
I did a bit of research on the topic of watering succulents prior to freezing temps, and it seems that succulents do not fare well with extra moisture during a freeze. It actually causes them to expand and their cells burst! Yikes! It does seem to help most other plants though, shrubs, trees, etc. That is very useful info since the weather here can be so unpredictable.
I don't know what to think about these yet, I just want to keep them alive until spring so I can feature them in my xeric display!
I see a lot of them in the ground locally and in Stephenville, some of them monstrous so I'm sure they've been there a while. Maybe the ground helps to insulates their roots, which is why I worry about these container grown agave, the pots not providing enough protection from the elements. It seems I have to water them during harsh summers more often than ones in the earth also.
I appreciate the help, going to try a combination and I think I'll water them when dry and weather is well above freezing, and blanket them during freezes, probably in my unheated shop. I'll let you know how they do for future reference :)
I'm not too sure that Italian pottery would stand up to harsh frost BUT in winter, most of us only JUST water the plants enough to prevent them dying so therefore the soil should not be wet enough to cause the soil to expand and crack the pots with harsh frost / freeze.
I throw a layer of small SHARP grit / gravel about 2/3 inches deep on top of my pots and this is to help prevent the slugs making it there home for winter, but it also works as a blanket layer giving some insulation too. After you have mastered the first winter caring for these lovely plants, your confidence will grow and as you have already discovered, some folks have them outside ALL winter, OK you might get a little brown patch on the leaf but you can cut that away come spring. Hope you have every success and next spring you will show us the pictures of your efforts.
Kittriana...I think yours is an aloe. I think the ones she is talking about are a lot more winter hardy. I still would not leave them out in a pot as tiny as they are without covering on nights it freezes. In the ground with mulch or leaf litter they do fine through the winter.
Y'all are great, yes I think it does look like an aloe. I made the mistake of leaving mine out in pots (haha guess that's why I'm scared.. Notice a pot trend here?) during a brief light freeze and poor things froze then turned to brown slime. All died! Don't want to kill any more babies this winter lol!
Rats you are right, aloe, I need to finish some other stuff so my distraction doesnt interfere. The red agave does fine even in north Texas area of Quanah, Texas, and I have a cabbage agave I know can take desert cold nights (dry air) when ground planted...
That an Aloe maculata or saponaria. My guess is the former. They are NOT HARDY. I've got two I'm bringing in. Glad the pups survived! Maculata's are "clumper" types of Aloes. They offset profusely. Pretty cool you got a bloom on yours. Most likely because it was in the ground. Keep your pups in a larger than normal pot. Maybe they will offset for you as well.
Keep all Aloes dry when it's cooler out. Treat them the way you would a cactus in winter. It's hard for folks who are accustomed to watering on a schedule to flip flop over to cacti/succulent territory sometimes. H2O will kill them. Quiclky.
Going to take some photos of a monster Agave americana and post. Really amazing specimen.