Thursday, February 4, 2010

Freeze Damage

The Prairie experienced about 36 consecutive hours of temperatures below freezing in early January. The freezing temperatures did some damage to my agaves and a few other plants. I think everything will pull through, but here is a look at some of the damage.

Above is an Agave americana that a neighbor gave me a couple of years ago. It looked so healthy and blue at Christmas. I need to take a walk and see how the mother plant handled the cold.

I received this agave as a door prize at a Native Plant Society meeting. It is supposed to be a cross between Agave americana and Agave scabra. I can't tell. It looks like Agave americana to me, however it seems to have a little more freeze damage than the Agave americana. The pups to the left are completely burned.

Poor little Agave parryi v. Truncata. Its roots were infested with fire ants all summer and then the winter cold damaged the leaves.
Note the Four Nerve Daisy, Hymenoxys scaposa, and Prairie Verbena, Verbena bipinnatifida, seedlings in the decomposed granite. DG seems to be a great medium for sprouting seeds. I use DG as a mulch around all of my agaves. 

This is an Opuntia prickly pear of some sort. The pads were all upright before the freeze. Now they are flopped over.

Finally, my toughest agave. This Agave neomexicana does not have a bit of freeze damage on its leaves.
I will know in a few months if any of the agaves will need to be replaced. If they do, I have a couple of Pale-Leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida, that are waiting to be planted.


  1. None of us are used to what blew our way last month! I don't think it was as cold in our part of the Hill Country as in Plano but I have droopy cholla, same kind of reaction as your prickly pear.

    Love your Agave neomexicana! Think I'll look for that. And thanks for mentioning the decomposed granite. I hadn't thought to use it as a mulch. Have tried various sized rocks but not been happy with results. Will give the granite a try.

    It was interesting here to see how things did with the cold. My bamboo muhly are skeltonish and the dwarf barbados cherries have lost all the leaves but I think most of our natives came through. There have even been a few flowers on the native coral honeysuckle and one volunteer prairie verbena. And the front is carpeted with baby wildflower plants. This spring will be one to remember. I bet your gardens will be too.

  2. Hi Kathleen,

    I can’t wait for spring. It will be interesting to see if any plants did not make it through the cold spell. I am already planning for possible replacements if something has to be removed.

    I am hoping my front yard will be full of wild flowers this spring. I have identified several winecup, four-nerve daisy, prairie verbena, bluebonnet and cutleaf daisy seedlings.

    I think you will like using decomposed granite as a mulch. I tried it because I read that using bark around desert plants could hold in too much moisture and cause rot. I spread it about two inches deep.

    Good luck with your cold victims.

  3. Thanks for the follow-up info. I think this is the answer around my desert willow and a yucca area.

  4. Where in Plano can you get decomposed granite, planning on using it as mulch but not sure where to get it here in east plano. Not sure Lowes or Home Depot carries DG.

  5. Anonymous, I have seen decomposed granite in bags at Home Depot and Wells Brothers Farm Store. If you have access to a pickup truck the best option is to buy it in bulk at Living Earth Technology or Servall Contractor Services. They both deliver as well.


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