Agave xylonacantha ‘Frostbite’

Ferociously beautiful, hardy, colorful variegated rosette for sun, well-drained sites, and pots. Superb as an accent. Pretty foxtail bloom after many years signals plant’s end of life.
height 2–3ft
width 2–3ft
tolerates Drought, Deer , Heat, Pots, Rooftops, Neglect, Wind
Agave plants are extremely drought tolerant, and many need no supplemental irrigation in coastal California. They will, however, look better and grow faster if they are given additional water, especially during summer.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose, Low Needs
origin C Mexico
9, 12–24

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Almost all agave, including this one, are monocarpic, meaning that a head will grow larger and larger over time, building up energy, then send off a spectacular flower, after which it will decline and die. With pupping varieties, like this one, they grow from stolons at the base, constantly replacing the older bloomed-out heads with new ones, which then grow larger and flower, continuing the life cycle.
Take care when pruning or removing agaves, as many have a toxic sap that causes inflammation and rashing. Removing spent agave heads can also be tricky as they are often ringed with other armed agaves. If you like the look of agaves, but are threatened by the terminal spikes, they can be removed. It’s easiest to cut these off when they are coming out of the rosette as you’ll be able to prune the thorns off many layers of leaves at one time.
You can ‘pineapple’ your agave by removing the lowest leaves. This is best started while it is out of the nursery can, but before planting, when you can access leaves from the bottom. This gives the plant a short trunk, textured similar to many palms, and allows you to get under the plant for weeding or removing pups.
Agaves, even very large ones, are a great choice to grow in a pot. The upright form of this agave goes well with tall planters.

Special Interest

They’re an excellent ‘home defense’ tool when planted along a fence line or beneath windows.

The specific epithet ‘xylonocantha’ means “wood spines”.