Survival in -40 C of a trough garden?

fernsk(z2 Canada)August 5, 2004

Hi - I don't know if this would be the best forum for this post but here goes. I have been thinking about creating an alpine trough garden. I have limited space and do do alot of my vegetable gardening in containers. My zone has temperatures going down to -40C in the winter so I wasn't certain if plants would overwinter in a trough container. Any experiences out there?



Sorry that I double posted into the container forum but then I saw this topic.


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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

I'm in Calgary, so the winters are not as harsh as there, but close... Trough and alpine gardening have some popularity here in Calgary - there's a club, even ('though, still, I suppose not many people overall do it). It may be worth looking into CRAGS (Calgary Rock and Alpine Garden Society); I took a course sponsored by the club, once, which was very informative. NARGS (North American Rock Garden Society) is also very informative, though it doesn't cater strictly to cold zones, of course.

Anyway, I really only dabble, but some of the things I've found hardy in our troughs over the years are:
Penstemon procerus (suitable in the garden too)
Penstemon newberryi(suitable in the garden too)
Rosa hemispherica
Draba rigida
Primula marginata (suitable in the shade garden too)
Primula farinosa (as above)
Saponaria lutea
Erigeron leiomerus
Androsace primuloides
Dianthus alpina
Dianthus freyneii
Dianthus sternkissen
Talinum spinescens
Corypantha vivipara
Veronica thymoides
Gentiana septemfida (suitable in the garden too)
Saxifraga sancta
Saxifraga x irvingii 'Jenkinsiae'
Aquilegia laramiensis
Heuchera hallii
Rhodiola rosea

So, not all of these plants are true alpines, but all are adaptable to troughs. As a general suggestion, if you seek out native alpine species (rather than, say, mediterranean mountain species), you will be dealing with some very hardy plants! Hope this is of some help.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 12:14AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

I am in even warmer zone 4a. Got down to -36 F(-38 C) a few years ago. But that's only about every 10-15 years.

One of our NARGS club members has a large trough(6ft x 3ft x 2.5ft deep) and a foot off the ground. It is styrofoam covered in hypertufa and permanently placed. 20+ years and had no hardiness problems.

The rest of us with smaller troughs nestle them together for winter, usually with some insulating material over them.
But be careful! Winter wet is one of the worst things for alpines. For some things, like many sedums, it doesn't matter.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 1:13PM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

Winter wet isn't generally a problem in troughs though... due to the fact that they are generally made of "tufa", or more recently, "hypertufa", which is very porous and drains well of itself. (In addition, some troughs have drainage holes.) Anyhow, in general, troughs, and the soil mixes used in them, are the solutions to poor drainage and winter wet...unless perhaps water can be trapped by the use of the insulating material in winter?

We've never used any insulating material over our troughs, though some other people here do use it (e.g. "microfoam").

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 1:34AM
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We have many troughs of different dimensions and overwinter many species of plants. No problem. No insulation. Just good drainage.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 8:00PM
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