A bit of the South in NEPA

westhighlandblue(z6 PA)June 21, 2007

I love living and gardening in this area. But I miss some of the old standards of my home. So three years ago, I planted a Magnolia Grandiflora and a Crepe Myrtle in my front yard which sits facing the southwest and feels like a microzone 7. Both trees visibly suffer during our winters and neither one had grown much since being planted. However, this spring both trees have grown a bit and this week the bark on my young Crepe Myrtle began to exfoilate and the Magnolia is in bloom. Does anyone else have experience in pushing the limits of their zone?

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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Hey that's great! Do you know what the variety of the magnolia is? I wish I could have a magnolia G. but (1) my yard is too small and (2) I'm even colder here than you are... but I have seen some magnolia grandiflora growing around here. There are two that I know of and I wonder if I could start my own from a borrowed cutting. It would probably grow so slow my yard size wouldn't matter and it would be an easy-come-easy-go kind of thing! or... I could try one of the hardier types out there and see if they make it.
Is yours fragrant?

I cheated with the crape myrtle. The first year I had it outdoors and winter killed it down to the roots. I potted it up and put it in a sunny hot spot but it didn't sprout up fast enough to bloom that summer -unless you count the two buds that opened in October. This past winter I cheated by overwintering the pot in my unheated garage. It looked very dead in the spring (more so because I didn't water it at all) but now it came back great. I have high hopes that it will put on a good show this year!

I am debating planting the crape myrtle in the ground for the summer. Do you think that would work? I would dig it up and store it in the garage again for the winter.... hmmmm sounds like a lot of work, but I think it's worth a try!

I have a few hardy cactus from a generous gardener down near Philly. All three types made it through the winter. I hope they bloom next year after putting on some good growth this summer.
Do you want to try an agave? I brought one back with me that I was growing in Texas. I believe it's somewhat hardy if kept dry but I haven't tried it yet. I have a few side shoots this year.
Hardy banana? I haven't left this one out yet either.

Oh and windmill palm too. I kept this in the garage for a few winters but finally killed it in the house.... the usual culprit -no watering. I bet in the right spot it might be ok outdoors for you.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:55AM
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westhighlandblue(z6 PA)

I'd be happy to share a cutting of the magnolia with you. It is a common grandiflora, with fragrant blossoms. But magnolia's grow at such a slow, slow pace even in the best of circumstances that you'll probably not see much of a tree out of that cutting, in your life time. I see magnolia's in downtown philly, where the sun can't possibly beat that hot, so I think a tree would do well in the sunniest part of your yard. I've seen some of the Bracken Brown Beauties in the various HD this year. I think your crepe myrtle will do well in the ground, also in the sunniest part of your yard. Even if it freezes back it will come up every spring, at least as a shrub. I still have that fringe tree, if you want it. I'd be willing to meet you halfway so that it can find a good home.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 11:25AM
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rsmallen(z6 PA)

I have grown a magnolia g in the area just north of Allentown with limited success. It took a beating one winter with hard snow and looked so pitiful for the two years following I finally put it out of misery. Likewise I had a crepe myrtle..pink..but finally one HARD winter it froze to the ground and although it lost it's three or four trunked state and came back a BUSH, I prefer it to look like crepe myrtle should look. I have tried confederate jasmine with limited success in a VERY sheltered area. You can do it...but it's a lot of work with limited gain so I have switched to natives/native hybrids typical to this area. I hate to kill plants.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 7:29AM
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