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Agave plants are a popular choice as a landscaping succulent, with impressive fleshy, tentacle-like spiked leaves that form dramatic shapes. But do deer eat agave plants, or are agave deer resistant?
What Are Agave Plants?
If you’ve never grown Agave plants, be aware that you are about to delve into the fascinating world of succulents! These plants will open up a myriad of unusual options when creating a new ornamental garden
Agave plants have large, fleshy leaves that generally end in spiny, pointed tips. The leaves grow outwards and upwards in a rosette pattern from the base. The leaves vary from blue-green through to grey, often with variegated gold or white markings.
Like all succulents, agaves grow slowly but require minimal care and attention. They are drought resistant but will thrive in warm, damp climates as well. They can live for several years or even decades, and only die after they have produced a flowering stem.
Agaves are commonly grown as landscaping plants, as they give form and structure to the garden throughout the year. Smaller agaves can also be grown in pots and hanging baskets.
Are Agave Deer Resistant?
Deer are voracious herbivores, and an adult deer will eat up to 12 pounds of food per day. They need a varied diet and are remarkably tolerant to eating plants that other animals find distasteful or even toxic.
Agave plants are rarely bothered by animals, as their leathery, spiny leaves do not make an appetizing snack. But are Agave deer resistant, or will visiting deer take a bite or two from your precious Agave plants?
Agaves have some deer resistance, as they tend to dislike plants that have tough leaves and spines. If deer have plentiful food sources available, they are unlikely to seek out Agave plants to eat.
The dense, spiny foliage of Agaves also makes them an effective barrier to keep deer away from more vulnerable plants. Planting a line of Agaves around the boundary of your flower border creates an impressive visual display that will keep visiting deer at bay.
Do Deer Eat Agave Plants?
Although Agave plants would not come top of a deer’s favorite foodstuffs, there are reports of deer eating or damaging Agave plants.
This seems to be a rare event, and most reputable sources cite agave plants as one of the top deer-resistant plants.
Male deer mark their territory by rubbing their antlers on trees and shrubs and can damage large Agave plants in the process.
There are also reports that deer will eat the flowering stalk of Agave plants. As many Agaves take several decades to produce a flowering stem, this can be a huge disappointment!
Sadly, once an agave has flowered for the first time, the plant will die. So if your agave sends up a flowering stem, it would be a good idea to protect it from deer, as this will be your only chance to see this rare floral display!
Are Agave Plants Toxic to Deer?
The sap of agave plants contains toxic oxalates, which cause various health problems. In humans and domestic pets, these oxalates burn the mouth and can cause localized skin irritation, and some agaves cause liver and kidney damage to sheep and goats.
But when it comes to deer, it seems that they have a remarkable ability to eat some toxic plants in small amounts! There are anecdotal reports of deer taking a bite or two of tender agave leaves, and it seems that they can eat agaves in small amounts without any ill effects.
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