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Agaves are sun worshipers and mostly come from desert areas. That's why the plants can't do much with the German winter, because agaves don't like wetness, rain and cold at all. Therefore, many varieties have to move to winter quarters for the cold season. But there are also some species that get along quite well with the German winter if they are protected from moisture.


Botanical assignment and origin

Agaves, botanical agaves, form a separate genus of plants in the subfamily of the agave plants (Agavoideae) of the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). So they are distant relatives of asparagus. The Agave genus includes a good 221 species. Since it often takes several decades for their inflorescence to develop and they only bloom once, they are also called century plants.

The natural distribution areas of the genus range from the south of the USA through Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean to Colombia and Venezuela. The greatest biodiversity can be found in Mexico. Today, agaves are distributed worldwide and naturalized in many countries.


Although many agave species are native to warm to hot Mexico, several hardy species can also overwinter outdoors.

Agave parryi, mescal agave

These hardy varieties include:

  • Agave parryi (mescal agave)
  • Agave utahensis
  • Agave inaequidens
Agave utahensis

They tolerate temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius. The Agave americana tolerates temperatures down to minus 10 degrees Celsius. However, these are the exceptions, because most agave species are not hardy, i.e. they have no chance of surviving the German winter, even a mild one, outdoors.

Agave inaequidens

Examples of non-hardy species include:

  • Agave nigra
Agave nigra
  • Agave filifera
Agave filifera

Agave Species

Hardy and conditionally hardy species

Hardy agaves can overwinter outdoors. Conditionally hardy varieties survive the cold season only in the mild regions of Germany, such as in the wine-growing areas. Whether the plant overwinters in a tub or planted out outdoors, its biggest enemy is wetness. Therefore, protection against moisture during the winter has top priority.

Tip: Since it is important to avoid or prevent wetness when wintering outdoors, you do not need to water or fertilize agaves in winter.


Choosing the right winter location is already a protective measure against moisture. All types of roofs protect against moisture "from above". If you can, you should put your agave under.

For example:

  • terrace roof
  • balcony roof (loggia)
  • eaves

Tip: If the agave is to be planted out, insert it at a slight angle. This means that no or less water can collect in the rosette.


Agaves do not tolerate waterlogging at all. With agaves that are cultivated in pots or tubs, the following must be observed.

  • Drainage holes at the bottom of the planter
  • no water in the coaster

So that water can drain off well, it is advisable to create a drainage layer at the bottom of the planter. The drainage layer can consist of the following things.

  • Shards of old flower pots
  • larger stones
  • a bed of gravel or crushed stone

Tip: A permeable substrate also helps in the fight against waterlogging. A soil-sand mixture with a sand content of 20 to 30 percent is ideal for agaves.

Once the agave has been planted, it must of course also be protected from waterlogging. Because heavy or continuous rain can even lead to waterlogging in the ground. The following helps against waterlogging in planted agaves.

  • water-permeable planting hole
  • Drainage for water drainage
  • permeable soil (soil-sand mixture)

cold protection

Agaves that are cultivated in pots or tubs need protection from the cold. To do this, the pot is wrapped in bubble wrap or some other warming material. So, well "padded", the cold cannot penetrate the planter so easily. To prevent the cold from creeping into the planter from below, it is best to place the agave on a styrofoam plate. That way she doesn't get cold feet so easily.

winter quarters

Overwinter in winter quarters

Since the German winter is far too cold for many agave varieties to overwinter outdoors, the agave must be brought indoors in autumn, depending on the weather. If the temperatures drop below seven degrees Celsius, the end of the outdoor season has come. With mild temperatures, the agave can also remain outdoors in a sheltered location until November. In November, however, the outdoor season finally came to an end, because at this time of year it rains too much and the first frosts can come as a surprise.

Tip: In principle, hardy agaves can also overwinter inside. However, they then lose their winter hardiness and should therefore spend the coming winters in their winter quarters.

Since wetness is the archenemy of the agave, you should put the plants under a protective roof in early autumn so that the rain does not completely soak the soil. This location also serves as preparation for the move.

The agave makes the following demands on the winter quarters:

  • cool
  • bright

That sounds simple, but for the agave to feel comfortable, the right balance between coolness and brightness must be ensured. Basically, the cooler the temperature, the less light the plants need. If the winter quarters have a temperature of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius, a normal source of daylight is sufficient. In a winter quarters above 10 degrees Celsius, the winter daylight could be too little for the agave. If it gets too little light, the leaves will turn yellow and the plant will begin to succumb. In this case, i.e. when the temperature-light ratio is poor, agaves should get additional light with a plant lamp.

Suitable winter quarters for agaves:

  • bright staircase
  • heated greenhouses
  • garage with window
  • insulated light attic

If no suitable winter quarters can be found for the agave, it can also hibernate in a heated living room as an emergency solution.

Tip: Agaves have thorns for protection. If there are small children or pets in the household, you should choose a place for the agave that is safe for children and pets. Another protection are wine corks that are placed on the thorns.


Care in winter quarters

Caring for an agave in winter is easy. Water them very little and do not fertilize. In this case, "pouring very little" really means very little: During the winter period at a temperature between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius, the agave should only be watered twice. And then the watering should also be very small. Basically, it is enough if the leaves are sprayed with an atomizer from time to time.

Tip: With a warm hibernation in heated living rooms, the agaves can be watered a little more often. But the same applies here: less is more.

If you worry about watering the plant too often, its leaves can turn yellow. Then the watering must be stopped immediately. If the soil has become too wet, you should even consider repotting in dry soil.

Tip: As with the agaves, which hibernate outdoors, waterlogging must be avoided at all costs when hibernating indoors. Also, no water should remain in the coaster.

spring season

Beginning of the outdoor season

If the temperatures in spring have risen constantly to seven degrees Celsius and more, the agave can move outside again. Since agaves prefer to grow outdoors rather than indoors, they should cater to this craving.

Tip: A good time to move is April, as the risk of night frosts is already lower.

Although agaves are desert plants, they also have to get used to the sun again after winter. To avoid sunburn, first place the agave in a semi-shady place, after one to two weeks the plant can move to its summer location. With the start of the outdoor season in spring, the plant is watered and fertilized again.

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