Deer Rubbing Against American Agave

Q: I had my cactus branches shredded by what I believe was a male deer grooming himself. There were two piles of deer poop nearby. What can I do to prevent this damage? 

A: First, a gentle correction: your plant is an American agave, Agave americana, sometimes called a century plant because of the length of time it takes to flower. Usually the flower spike grows10’ – 20’ tall. It’s a spectacular sight but the mother plant will die in the next several weeks, to be replaced by ‘pups’ that emerge around it. There is not much damage to the leaves of your agave, so I don’t think it has been permanently harmed. To prevent deer rubbing on it in the future, drive four 6 lengths of steel rebar two feet into the ground equidistantly around the agave, thus surrounding it with a square formed by the rebar. Wrap the rebar with chicken wire, using steel wire to keep it in place. Deer will be able to rub on the rough chicken wire without damaging your plant.

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