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Agaves often impress with their mighty rosettes of leaves, which serve as a water reservoir for the plants. After all, they live in dry and hot regions where water is scarce. In this country, it rains often enough, especially in autumn and winter, so that the plants have plenty of water available. And that's exactly what the desert dwellers have a problem with. Because they don't tolerate rain very well. Therefore, hardy agaves in particular must be protected from moisture during the cold and rainy season.


Botanical assignment and origin

Agaves originally come from the American continent. Their natural range extends from the south of the USA across Central America to Colombia and Venezuela. The Caribbean is also part of the natural home of the agave. Biodiversity is greatest in the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Puebla and Oaxaca. Today they are cultivated worldwide and are considered naturalized in countries with tropical, subtropical and frost-free climates.

Botanically, agaves form the Agave genus of the subfamily Agavoideae (Agave family), which in turn belongs to the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). The genus Agave is divided into three subgenera, in which species and groups are summarized. According to the botanical system, there are a large number of agave species. There is also a whole range of hybrid plants.


Despite the variety of agave species, only a few varieties are hardy, which is a result of their natural origins. As far as winter hardiness is concerned, agaves can be classified according to their resistance to cold or frost. The temperatures given are guide values and the list does not claim to be complete.


Temperatures from minus 20 or almost minus 25 degrees Celsius tolerate:

  • Agave toumeyana ssp. bella
  • Agave havardiana
  • Agave utahensis
Agave toumeyana

Tolerates temperatures between minus 12 and minus 18 degrees Celsius:

  • Agave ovatifolia
  • Agave lechuguilla
  • Agave parryi var cousei
  • Agave havardiana
Agave ovatifolia

Temperatures down to minus 10 degrees tolerated:

  • Agave schidigera
  • Agave victoriae reginae
  • Agave montana x gracilipes
  • Agave leopoldii
Agave schidigera

Although these hardy varieties tolerate low temperatures, these specimens very rarely survive permafrost. Therefore, planting out is only recommended in the milder regions, such as the wine-growing areas. Cultivated as a container plant, however, these varieties are quite capable of surviving the German winter in other regions if they are given some help.

Agave leopoldii

Tip: When buying from the nursery, ask whether the plant has already overwintered outdoors. If so, then she is better used to the German winter and already hardened than plants that have overwintered in a cold house or similar.

In the bucket

Hibernation in bucket

Since agaves are native to rather dry areas, wetness is the biggest problem for the desert dwellers because it causes the plants, more precisely their roots, to rot. In order for agaves to get through the winter well, they must above all be protected from moisture.

Agave havardiana

winter location

Choose a sheltered spot for the winter location of the agave. All forms of roofs, canopies or eaves are suitable for this. The main thing is that it doesn't get wet from the rain and that no water can collect in the leaf rosettes.

Tip: Place the agave in its winter location in late summer. So she can get used to it before the cold season.

If no roof is available, the agave can also be “artificially” covered. Make sure that there is enough air circulation under the roof. If the roof is installed too low, moisture builds up, which can also lead to rot. In addition, the tinkered roof should be translucent.

Agave utahensis

Tip: Good air circulation is particularly important with a film cover.

The ideal winter location also protects agaves from the cold. If you have the choice, place the plants on a south wall of the building or on the patio.

Agave montana


Further measures against wetness

When it rains heavily, a roof is often not sufficient protection for the plants. Added to this is the increased humidity, which quickly sets in in fog or continuous rain in this country. To counteract these sources of moisture, a drainage layer in the pot or bucket is a good idea.

Agave lechuguilla

For a drainage enter:

  • Place gravel or broken pottery as the bottom layer of the planter
  • Mix gravel with sand if necessary

Tip: Drainage not only helps against waterlogging in winter, it is also a proven means of avoiding waterlogging in summer.

However, the best drainage layer in the planter is useless if the planter does not have drainage holes. Only plant agaves in containers with drainage holes so that the water can run off. Of course, this also applies to coasters. No water should stand still there either.

Tip: If water has collected in the coaster despite the holes, simply empty it out.

Agave parryi

cold protection

Cold and wet from below

Moisture and cold also like to creep from the ground into pots or tubs, especially in winter. Their loopholes are the drainage holes that are important to avoid waterlogging. A small distance between the ground and the planter or saucer is enough to ward off the cold and moisture.

Agave victoriae reginae

Place the agave for example:

  • a styrofoam sheet
  • on a coaster or pot with small feet, no wheels

winter care

Once the right location has been found and the agave protected from moisture, it needs no further care. It does not need to be fertilized or watered. The latter would even be counterproductive.

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