Desert Love in trouble

Philosophical question of the day: Is déjà vu a good thing? 

Yahoo has the answer: "For your own safety," one user writes, "'deja vu' should be understood for the same reason a venomous snake should be understood, or more mysteriously, an unidentified creature." 

 What now?

"Sometime it happens right before a seizure," somebody else says, "but that is very rare. So don't think you are going to have a seizure."

Whew, good to know!

"It is neither, or both, depending on your reaction," states a very smart person. "It is an experience that can awaken an awareness of what is going on in your life, and you need to just pay attention! There are things to be learned."

Time for a learning moment—maybe.

Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' in February 2018

Almost a year ago I lost an Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' and an Agave 'Snow Glow' to rot. I was never able to figure out definitively what happened. I removed the rotting carcasses and drenched the area with two kinds of fungicide. Then I planted an Aloe africana and an Agave 'Desert Love', a Plant Delights hybrid involving Agave ovatifolia, Agave parrasana and possibly Agave asperrima.

Agave 'Desert Love' in February 2019

Compare 'Frosty Blue' in the first photo with 'Desert Love' in the second. Now you know what I mean  by déjà vu!

Here's a closer look:

Agave 'Desert Love' just the other day

Is it simply bad luck? Is it a curse? Is it something in the soil? Or is it just another unfortunate combination of rain and rapidly cooling temperatures? A few other plants nearby are affected as well (see below).

I decided to dig up 'Desert Love' and put it in a terracotta bowl for the time being. Fortunately, the roots look healthy as does the back half of the agave.

Agave 'Desert Love' in its temporary digs

I'm keeping 'Desert Love' completely dry until I see signs of growth. In the spring I'll look for a different spot in the ground.

I have a second 'Desert Love' in a large ceramic pot, and it's turned into quite a looker:

Agave 'Desert Love' #2

Here are the other plants in the beds along the driveway that show signs of rot:

Agave montana

×Mangave 'Rio Verde'—in spite of the extensive rot the center still looks good

Aloe alooides

I wish I could say with some degree of confidence what's going on. A certain amount of rot is par for the course when it's cold and wet for any length of time. At this point there's nothing else to do except wait. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that these plants will simply outgrowth the damage.

© Gerhard Bock, 2019. All rights reserved. No part of the materials available through may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. 

If you are reading this post on a website other than, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Please report such unlawful use to me at gerhard[AT]succulentsandmore[DOT]com. Thank you!


  1. Wow, that’s very strange. And ugly. I’m sorry.

  2. Saturated, cold soil -- same here. I decided to move my parrasana 'Fireball' into a pot because it was showing some rot on the lower leaves, but after excavating a trench around it couldn't get it to I refilled the trench with gravel. We'll see how it fares. So glad you've got a clean backup 'Desert Love'! My 'Frosty Blue' is planted on a slight mound directly under the fernleaf acacia, which I'm sure wicks away water, keeping it dry, but it drops a tremendous amount of fine litter on it...can you ever win?

  3. Ouch! Like Denise, I'm betting the persistent rain and cold soil are at fault. Even though my soil is heavy on sand, I'm seeing some rot this year as well.

  4. Oh man, that is not the deja vu you want. What are your plans for re-planting there ? You have to wonder about soil-borne pathogens , but it's probably not a coincidence that the issues started after a lengthy period of drought. I put quite a few plants under rain covers this year. I think we are at about 15 inches here so far ,with about 10 to go before we hit our season normal (if there is such a thing anymore) so I'm glad I took the time to give them some protection.

  5. Those poor plants. It does look like cold damage. Hopefully they all recover. That sad little mangave looks about done in.

  6. Oh! On the mangave - it could just be going dormant, some of them do that in the winter... Comes from the manfreda side of the family. My kaleidoscope does that. So maybe don't give up hope yet?

  7. Hey, that Agave montana looks a lot like my A. impressa. Related species?

  8. 'Desert Love' maybe does love the desert. I'm a little concerned here--we've gotten longer stretches of rainy weather than most of the plants have ever experienced. I blow the water out of rosette centers with my trusty extra wide drinking straw as often as possible.

  9. Bummer... Frosty Blue has so far been bullet proof for me here in Berkeley.


Post a Comment