Geographically unrealizable wish lists

cranebill(6)October 13, 2006


I was curious if anyone has desires ("plant lust") for particular plants that are out of the question as garden subjects for any right-minded PA gardener in any PA zone? What might they be, pray tell? Has your desire ever surpassed your sanity such that you've actually tried to grow them despite your near certain knowledge that they'd be doomed to failure and death?

I feel a little sheepish about posing these questions without including some plants from my own "Wish List of Impossible Plants" but this is my last posting of the day to GW and I gotta go now but I really wanna know.



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I am in zone 6 and I want fig trees. I have a friend who tells me he thinks I can grow them because he grew them in his zone 6 yard, but I am not convinced. I think he had them in a nice warm microclimate near his garage. Someday when I am done the landscaping that needs to be done to my one year old home I might have the money and time to get some "dream plants," but for now I am investing my energy in plants proven for my zone. But I do think it's fun to push the envelope. In my former home I always bought plants I knew wouldn't make it (one year I was crazy enough to get a lemon tree and swore I would somehow keep it alive). Hopefully someday I'll be in that position again, just not right now.But it's fun to dream, and who knows, they just might come up with a fig that's hardy in zone 6 just about the time I'm ready to venture out!!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 8:16PM
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Kestrel Shutters & Doors

My father has several fig trees and he is in northern Chester County. They are out near his grape vines and get full sun and wind as it is an open spot. They have done well for years and always bring in figs. he does surround them with with leaves but that's about it.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 8:20PM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

melissa, a neighbor of mine grows them. he wraps them come fall in burlap. always looks weird, but each year there's an abundance of figs. he's been doing it that way for a long time. i'm in montco bordering philly and that too is zone 6.

jim, does your dad wrap his tree(s) as well?

as for me, i would love to grow olive trees. can't see it happening though. i'm sure i'd get obsessed if i could grow them and then have to get a press to make my own oil. oh, just to dream....

interesting question cranebill, would like to hear your response.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:48PM
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Thanks, maryanne. For starters, I'd like to grow a forest of New Zealand tree ferns, a frangipani (plumeria) grove, and a Scottish heath. There are a lot more kinds of plants I could add, as well as species and varieties of specimen plants I'd like to grow from other categories.

mellissas, I believe that "Brown Turkey" is a fairly hardy variety that can be grown, with protection, in PA. Maybe this is the variety which the other posts are referring to? Brown Turkey's been around at least ten years, and I think that horticulturalists have been working to develop even hardier figs.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 10:26AM
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I think I'd like to see a row or two of pineapples in the garden and maybe a banana tree out back! How about stringing a hammock between two coconut trees?

I was suprised to learn bamboo grows in our zone, but I never dared to try it. I hear it spreads like crazy and is hard to get rid of it once its established.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 6:23PM
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jeffseattle(z6 PA)

I just moved to State College from Seattle, where it rarely gets below freezing. I had some nice Angel's Trumpets that I'd like to try again - I used to put them in a cold greenhouse for the winter, and as long as the rootball didn't freeze, they'd leaf out as soon as it got warm. There's also a white ginger which is hardy to O degrees, but I could never get it to bloom, I think because it didn't get hot enough.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 1:10AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Mmm, I have Fig Tree Envy, too.

When we bought our house, the previous owner pointed out a "fig tree brought over from Italy". The following spring it turned out to be a very nice plum tree, but since then I've wanted to grow figs. Maybe in the tiny little microclimate near the studio...

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 12:05PM
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My next door neighbor has 3 fig trees that bear fruit every year. I think 2 are red figs and one is white.

Anyway, he does wrap them in burlap every year and always has TONS of figs.

I would love to be able to grow a Meyer Lemon outside. I know there are some dwarf varieties that people grow in pots, but the lemons are inferior IMHO. I want the real things!


    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 4:01PM
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Oh my! Where to begin? Well first of all I would be living in a more subtropical place, but that's off topic. Let's see, I love the idea of hanging bromeliads and orchids off the trunks of a tree fern. Having some fruiting mango, guava, and orange trees. A Southern Magnolia, although I have seen one full-size but not very happy tree around here. Palm trees, anyone? A parana pine, Araucaria angustifolia, right in my front yard. The possibilities are endless, so I'll just stick with my indoor orchids for now!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 4:39PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

While I know they grow in Southeastern PA, I sure would like to grow a crepe myrtle. Oh! And Agapanthus!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 4:26PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

"unrealizable"- That's a very final word for a wish list! I have a couple bananas, elephant ears, angel trumpets.... bunches of "house plants" that I really only keep because I love it when they take off outside for the summer. I don't think of them as doomed to failure I just think of them as alot more work.

I did admit defeat with the egyptian papyrus. It was around 5 feet tall when I dug it up and after holding it inside for a couple weeks I had to admit it was silly to overwinter...... but I may have to try again next year!

I chickened out again this fall. The potted crape myrtle is in the garage where I hope it will get a little extra protection this winter. The "hardy" banana won't get a chance to prove itself this winter either.... I dug the roots up last weekend and they're going into the basement. I have a few hardy cactus that were given to me last summer. I hope they do ok, if they do I might try an agave that I've been taking inside each year. It was outside in the snow and sleet when I lived in Texas, but winter was alot shorter then.

I don't think it's too much to ask to have a southern magnolia or a few clumps of bamboo. I wouldn't mind a few eucalyptus trees either. We'll see what happens!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 10:02PM
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Hey kato,

Hope you check back on this discussion, because I want to suggest that you may be able to overwinter an Egyptian papyrus if you ever grow one again. I bought one last summer and it's indoors now. The reason I think it might work is that I've had great success overwintering dwarf papyrus. Year after year a big bushy stand of it dwindles indoors to the point where sometimes the plants look like miniature tussocks of trimmed perennial grass - straw-colored stubs with no green whatsoever. I continue to keep them damp nevertheless, and each spring they start pushing new growth. By midsummer they're rampant once again. So I'm hoping the Egyptian will also come around in spring. Right now it's straw-colored stubs, but I'm hoping. Preposterous-looking plant, by the way, don't you think? Reminds me of something in a Doctor Seuss book.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2006 at 10:53PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

For years when I went to Oregon to visit relatives, I would bring back a box of rhododendrons that were not available here in PA. I was trying to get a peach/apricot/salmon colored one to grow. I killed many which thrive on the west coast. The best I found that survived on the East Coast is "Virginia Richards":

One west coast rhododendron hybrid which does very well for me and has a beautiful flower is "Arthur Bedford" which is commonly sold as "A. Bedford":

These are both rated as much more tender than anything I would normally buy. However, they have done very well for me when many others haven't.

One hardy "salmon" I haven't tried is David Leach's "Rio":

Here is a link that might be useful: Rio at Rarefind Nursery

    Bookmark   December 24, 2006 at 10:12AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

well well Rhodyman, at $100 a plant I'm not surprised you haven't experimented with Rio's hardiness! How is rarefind? The prices seem ok for the size plants they offer, but I wish I could find some smaller plant sizes for (I hope) prices that would better fit my budget.
I was browsing through their tree selection. I had to laugh to myself when I realized that in 10 or 15 minutes I could fill my entire garden..... maybe I need to look into bonsai gardening!

Cranebill shame on you for encouraging me. Now I will of course HAVE to try again.
"Preposterous-looking plant, by the way, don't you think? Reminds me of something in a Doctor Seuss book."

You are totally on the mark with that observation! I think that's the reason I needed it for so long. My new goal is to get another plant next year and propagate it for all my friends!

I forgot another unreasonable plant that should have been on my list. Gunnera Manicata
totally unsuitable. It's perfect.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 9:21AM
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