Overwintering Tropical Plants Outside

gardengardengardengaAugust 25, 2004

This year I am bravely going to try and overwinter outside in a zone 4 area

-1 lime tree about 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide

-7 store bought avacadoes water sprouted and now over

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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

That won't work, not even with protection.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 6:55AM
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I agree. If this would work we'd have oranges in our back yards instead of apples.

Is there a reason you need to move the plants out of the house?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 6:17AM
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You don't even find avocados growing outside in Palm Beach County, FL, they consider that too far north. There are groves in the Miami area though. So far as the lime, they are also a true tropical, and too many nights in the low 40's causes them to lose their leaves. Nights below freezing are lethal.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 8:52PM
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Relax everyone...Iam still going to try it.

Here is the plan.

Protected from the frost in the early changes of weather until probably around the end of November, at nights or days in low 40's and 30's with a covering of some sort perhaps a lined covering.

then sometime in November possibly as late as early December

Take chicken wire wrapped all around the canopy width and length of the plant leaving at least 12 " of space to stuff with newpapers or leaves

Then wrap again with more chicken wire leaving 12 inches for more insultation of newspaper or leaves packed in.

Then wrap with burlap giving more space for insultation to stuff again (third layer of insulation!)

then at the end I will mulch the ground out arond the area deeply- about 12".

I will take the layers off as weather permits inthe Spring time.

I will keep you all posted and hopefully I will prove that one can indeed grow avacadoes, limes, and a small orange tree in Maine!

I was told about this secret from a women memeber of the Bar Harbor Garden Club and who has actually tried it with an orange tree and has keep the tree alive for a few years ...yes folks outside! Unfortunately, I have only her word to trust as I have never seen the tree.

So, curious to see, I am experimenting with my plants in a zone 4 area.

The plants right now have been transplanted as they were last year outside and dug up and saved to be replanted this year outside. So, they have established their roots well since June and I am excited to see if theis does work.

Gee whiz people, Where is the support around here when one needs it?

none the less, I will keep you all updated onthe progress of overwintering tropicals outside in zone 4 in Maine!


    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 11:39PM
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Relax. I'm not being unsupportive but realistic. I can't encourage something I don't believe will work. Support came in the suggestions that you'll kill your trees. Can you share pictures from start to finish? It will be interesting to see.

We had measurable snow here in October last year.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 6:16AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

We are being supportive, as in trying to spare you all that effort and the grief that will probably occur when your tropicals don't make it.

But do keep us posted and let us know how it turns out. Maybe we'll be surprised! Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 7:30AM
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I think in Florida, don't they rig up a light bulb under the coverings or something?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 9:08AM
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lilyroseviolet(Maine 4and 5)

I took off the three layers of blankets over the wire cage of mulch surrounding the lime tree today.

It looks like all the leaves have died off...not too alarming yet, the stems are still green on new growth...(good sign, I think)

I am gonna leave it in the mulch until the 15th of April and then hope these few days of sunshine wakes it up and shows some sign of life!!!

fingers crossed for the lime tree everyone!!!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 11:44PM
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I don't mean to sound unsupportive, but why in the world would you want to do this? I know that a lot of us try to push the limits of our zone a little and many of us are successful---I have plants supposedly hardy to Zone 5 which have survived my Zone 4 winters---but why would you want to take such extreme measures when Maine gardeners can grow so many things (like peonies and lilacs) which our counterparts in warmer climates ooh and aah over?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 3:36PM
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Be careful unwrapping too fast. Gardening in z4 - things sometimes came up very late or not at all - but one thing about gardening in NJ that still confuses this Mainer is that plants overwinter fine - then die in the spring. I have had plants healthy rosette or lovely green twigs February/March - then we have 30 degree days followed by a few in the 80s or 90s then back to the 30s, 40s, 50s - add a few downpours - and then my happy little rosettes have turned to black mush - uck! I have wintered over outside Amaryllis by mistake and Phygelius for about 4 years - but every year it's abit smaller. Though Figs are marginally hardy here - people do similiar wrapping to them farther North.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 7:36PM
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lilyroseviolet(Maine 4and 5)

thanks for tjhe caution, I left the mulch all around it.

If it looks too stressed from the winter I may dig it up and domesticate it again in the house.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 10:05PM
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cybertrek(zone 5 Maine)

This is off topic with regard to tropicals but I was curious if anyone knows what trees are referred to in classical literature when they talk about lime tree avenues in areas with cold winters. I've been reading Tolstoy recently and it seems the "lime tree" was a fixture of every estate. As these stories are set in Russia and often refer to the extreme winter cold it's obvious that they're not talking about the tropical lime trees. Just curious.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 10:43PM
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Please excuse the intrusion, but couldn't sleep and decided to get online..decided to see how gardeners from other parts of the US were doing.
Garden, next yr, try growing a Poncirus trifolia..You can buy this plant at www.worldplants.com for 5.00. I've got one growing outdoors here in zone 5..all I did was mulch, no light, no other protection. I bought two, one for the house, one for the outdoors..figured, if it didn't make it, I lost 5.00..No biggie..So far, it's green and new growth is sprouting..Again, sorry..Toni

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 3:12AM
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cybertrek(zone 5 Maine)

For anyone else who might be curious, I did some looking and found that the "lime trees" referred to in my post above are actually ("Tilia x europaea" European linden, common lime tree). Ah, another knotty botanical mystery solved.

Happy gardening,


    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 7:25PM
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Yes Limes are Lindens - not sure why - seem to remember something about painting the trunks with lime - could be wrong. Poncirus is great! There's a great hedge of it in a park in Princeton NJ - green leaves twigs and thorns - little orange like fruits - semievergreen I think. Anyone or thing that tried to get through that hedge would be mortally wounded in the process!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 8:04PM
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lilyroseviolet(Maine 4and 5)

yes the t horns are about 1.5" long, slinder and very sharp...it is a difficult house plant to keep in the house unless you want a very gingerly atmosphere. Kids learn very quickly after examining this lime tree. I thought it worked well for securing a more calmness in its area. So I put it near the fireplace, but took it outside to plant it right in the soil. It has grown so that I thought perhaps to leave it outside and just winterize it as I have.

Its still too cold at night and the frosts too heavy still to remove allthe mulch from the chicken wire frame.

the thorns must allow escape/protection for certain species from other species. Birds from cats and or such.
Why would a plant otherwise want such thorns on it?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 10:47PM
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Lily, you're right..like cactus, plants grow thorns for protection. If you've ever seen certain cacti thorns, you'll know NO animal is gonna mess with that cactus.
How long has your Poncirus been growing outdoors? How tall? This is the first winter mine was out all year..It's a young tree so I don't expect blooms/fruit for a few more years. It'd be nice if it bloomed sooner, but patience is the key. When it's warmer, it'll get a dose of citrus food, one that's high in nitrogen.
Someone on the Palm forum who resides in Chicago has a palm growing..so far so good..Next fall that's my next experiment. I also have a bansoo banana tree growing. Toni

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 1:00AM
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I think the thorns are more to keep the plant from being lunch than to help out the birds and other small critters - though that is obviously a side benefit. In NJ where the deer problem is sooo extreme - one can really see the benefit to the plant from being hard to eat. There are places where the understory trees shrubs and herbaceous are all gone. The multiflora roses are doing fine - 'though when in flower one can see the grazing line.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 10:58AM
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lilyroseviolet(Maine 4and 5)

Of course its still alive...a rodent lived in the mulch and had eaten about a 4X5" (sq area) at the base. took the bark right off exposing the next layer. What should I do? The plant is not looking so good, however, it is only and still April. ( I think it might have some winter kill on the tips or so.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 4:44PM
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ottawa_basjoo_z5a(z5 ON)

You and always try a Poncirus trifoliata, its not a lime or a lemon, but its a hardy orange tree, that is hardy to zone 5. I grow hardy palms and banana's. http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/560685950ItQwFP?vhost=home-and-garden


Here is a link that might be useful: http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/560685950ItQwFP?vhost=home-and-garden

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 2:28AM
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are the trees still alive?(lemon and avocado)if they are, or you want to try another pair, you should cover the ground around them in plastic to keep the roots from rotting. tropical's can survive cold temretures if the roots are dry. wet, cold roots is 100% fatal.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 10:02PM
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