Moving to the Boise area

zandra(z9 Nw. CA coast)November 27, 2009

Sometime in the spring of 2010 I'll be making the move to the Boise area and I'm trying to figure out what if any of my coastal northern CA plants are worth restarting to bring with. Could someone from the area give me their personal review of what their weather is like and a list of their best growing favorites? I'm interested in both vegetables and low maintenance annuals and perennials. I'll be avoiding fruit trees but would like some small ornamental trees. Do roses and peonies do well there and what sort? Thanks for any advice :)

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Hi Zandra.

Boise temperatures are in the 20's in the wintertime, and get over 100 in the summer. Dry, low humidity, and often windy.

You'll be irrigating to keep plants growing in Boise. Local nurseries have a good selection of plants adapted to this environment. Euyonomous, barberry, butterfly bush are popular. Boxwood does ok as long as we don't get cold snaps like we did 10 years ago. I have a yucca plant growing well. Roses thrive here when irrigated. Peonies, too.

Ornamental plum grows well. I'm nursing some acorn oak trees (they don't do well with the late frost).

Zamzow's nursery is a local chain. Very knowledgeable and they have some fine products. Thrive, Huma-green, Living Lawn fertilizer.

pH is 7.8 to 8.0. My soil is clay. I make compost to amend the clay soil.

Keep asking if you have more questions. I'm in Meridian on the Boise border.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 4:59PM
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zandra(z9 Nw. CA coast)

Thanks for the advice. I'm hoping to keep a few chickens to help with the composting. I grew up in the Sacramento valley and your description sounds similar but for the soil ph and the winter cold. I forgot to ask about pests and diseases.
Really looking forward to having my first peonies.
How about goldenchain tree and magnolias? I'm thinking about an upright juniper or small pine. Also, its been years since I've been able to grow beefsteak tomatoes and chilies thanks to cold/wet summer weather, please say I can look forward to those!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 2:29PM
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La Nina has delayed the tomatoes for the last two years, but they normally grow quite well here. Just don't transplant them before May 15. I had a bumper crop of peppers this year. My garden soil is really coming into its own.

My acre property has blue pine, spruce, and volunteer junipers. I planted ponderosa pine and this year some of them stared to really grow. I think our climate might not work for magnolias, but the climate is changing, so that could change, too. And I don't know anything about goldenchain trees. My blue ash got hit by borers. It's a goner.

I think that dutch elm is in this area, but not chestnut blight (no chestnut trees). We have squash bugs, although they haven't yet found my garden.

You mention fruit trees; I have four apple trees and fruit trees do well here.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 5:03PM
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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

I agree, fruit trees do very well here and the dry heat combined with the cold winters keep pests to a minimum. I grow many things (including beefsteak tomatoes and bell/hot peppers) and fruit is by far my favorite. I do spray some of my plants to prevent pests and disease, but for the amount of fruit I get it seems like less work to me than maintaining the annual veggie crops. I have peaches, sweet cherries, blueberries, seedless grapes, currants, raspberries, strawberries, ..., and I keep adding more (planting a small wine grape vineyard this spring).

My roses, barberries, lilacs, boxwoods, azaleas, and clematis all do very well here. Keep in mind that even though nobody will stop you, there are laws against bringing certain plants across state lines. For example, Idaho has a thriving wine industry and there are laws set up to keep wine grape pests out of the state (such as phylloxera which is in California). You might want to check before you decide to bring anything with you.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 11:58AM
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The Idaho Statesman newspaper has an online gardening newsletter emailed out every Thursday morning. To sign up, go to To see recent columns, go to Also see the Idaho Native Plant Society's website at There's tons of information on native plants suitable for home landscaping. The Ada County Extension Office has a Master Gardener class every winter/spring and it's one of the best MG programs in the country (IMHO).

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 4:41PM
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zandra(z9 Nw. CA coast)

Really awesome advice, thanks. It's one thing to leaf through the new western garden book and another to hear what people actually grow. Now that you mention it, I'm thinking about trying a combination of Bartlett and Red Bartlett pears. Always wanted a red pear. Very happy to hear grapes of any kind grow there. They don't where I am now. I don't think I'll be bringing much along from the looks of things, maybe some cuttings from two old roses and a handful of subtropical succulents which I'll have to keep in pots and overwinter inside. I have more things I could try but fussing over iffy plants is something I let go of years ago. If anyones still interested, can you grow container gourds or winter squash?

Thanks for the link to the newspaper, I'm definitely gonna check that out.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 1:23PM
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Hi zandra. I moved from Boise to Utah some years ago. I can grow winter squash here and I generally find gardening at this much higher altitude, with colder winters and a shorter growing season, much more challenging than I did in Boise. So, I think you'll do just fine growing winter squash (in the summertime!) around the Boise area.

I am also familiar with the Sacramento and the Los Angeles areas. I think you'll find the low humidity more of a challenge than you might anticipate. It does take some adjustment. Since you are familiar with Sacramento summers, you won't be surprised when Boise heats up.

My father-in-law lived in Boise until he passed away a few years back. He grew absolutely beautiful beautiful roses and peonies.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 1:15AM
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I just moved to Eagle (borders Boise and Meridian) from CA a few years ago
and wish I would have asked questions about gardening before getting here! I'm still trying to get used to the differences. I also grow roses and the one problem I have encountered is 'cane borer', which I had never even heard of! I've been told (by Zamzow's) that Roses should be sealed when you are pruning to help guard against these little devils! I've lost 2 new bushes and a 30 year old rose that I brought with me! Wanted to pass that on to you.

Good luck on your garden Sandra and welcome to Idaho...


    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 9:17PM
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