Which non-palm subtropicals are you using to push those zones?

subtropixMay 23, 2012

These are now regularly overwintering for me without any protection whatsoever:

Southern Magnolias






Fig trees


Opuntia cacti


Will be adding Confederate jasmine, a passion vine, and a zone 6b hardy gardenia this year.

P.S. Last winter was so mild, the Spanish Moss, Eucalyptus, and an Oleander made it through!

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Figs (except they suffer vole damage every year), Sequoia, Passiflora incarnata, Crinums, Pineapple Lily, Alstroemeria, Agapanthus campanulatus, various bamboos all do fine for me here with minimal protection (leaf mulch, basically).

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Mekong Giant banana
Musa Basjoo
Southern Magnolia- 2 varieties
Some other unidentified cactus
Bamboo- if you consider it subtropical (2 varieties)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 6:51PM
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I'm rather spoiled in my zone and I never really realized how lucky I am. I give much respect to those of you in colder zones and its amazing what you guys accomplish :)

Usually most sub-tropicals dont have much of a problem here. Many palms and citrus grow well in my area. Just to name a few: oranges, lemons, limes, kumquats, CIDP's, true dates palms, both washys, queens, majesty's and pygmy dates.

What I find to be difficult to push is Avocados. They can be grown here but are difficult and fussy. I believe Mango and Guava can be grown here as well but are as fussy as Avocados. Next time I see them at the store I am going to pick some up and see.

- US_Marine

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 7:10PM
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Very nice collection especially the pomegranate!
Heres what I'm growing year round outdoors other than palms for the tropical look....

Fig tree (about 10 feet tall right now)

Crape Myrtle "Zuni" (Semi-Dwarf type to save on space and currently about 5 feet tall)

Eastern prickly pear (got 3 small patches of them probably around 30 pads total)

Hardy passion vine (covers my 4 foot tall fence and has tons of buds on it now so its going to really make lots of blooms this year. Got it as a small plant July 2010 for only $2 at a local nursery!)

Oleander (I usually protect this one but only protected it about 3 nights last winter. No damage and lots of buds now. Its about up to my neck in height)

Frostproof Gardenia (One of them has been in the ground for a year and the other 2. Both were completely unprotected last winter and did great. Now they are almost 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide and have lots of buds. Should be blooming soon!)

Aspidistra (unprotected for 2 winters now. Never any damage, but very slow growing!)

Kopper king Hibiscus (survived its first winter with no problems as expected, but they definitely take a while to respout in the spring!)

Cannas (they survived the winter for me this year, I have a robert kemp and a red variety that I dont have an ID for. The red variety makes very small orange flowers).

Camellias (In order from MOST cold tolerant to LEAST I have... "Arctic Rose" "Long Island Pink" "Herme" "Kramers Supreme". The Arctic Rose should be hardy down to zone 6, the Kramers Supreme is for zones 8 and up. All survived the winter unprotected. My Herme Camellia is the oldest at about 13 years old.

Purple heart (An awesome looking groundcover that is rated for zones 8 and up but seemed to do well this winter. I'll mulch it next year and take cuttings just in case!)

Musa Basjoo (Doesnt do as well for me as for others, but it did survive the winter as it promises to!)

Crocomansia (Just new for this year, cant wait for the blooms. Hardy to zone 6, but the blooms look tropical to me!)

Pineapple lily (survived the winter. Great purple foliage and even nicer blooms, it has never bloomed for me yet)

Crinums (just got these this year. They are supposed to be hardy in zone 7 and up so we will see!)

Tai Monarch Ginger (I didnt trust my Butterfly ginger to go unprotected outdoors during the winter, but I did leave this ginger out as a test and it survived and is quickly growing now. The blooms are beautiful on this ginger, but it has not bloomed for me yet (the butterfly ginger bloomed in november right after that freak snowstorm).

Thats about it can think of right now! I'd say about 15% of my tropical looking plants stay in the ground year round. The rest are potted or planted in the ground during the spring after a winter indoors!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Golden grove bamboo
dusty miller survive the winter
spanish moss (i cant tell if its dead or alive)
purple heart
musa basjoo
variety of cactus and succulents
giant reed
poncirus hardy citrus

I had a sago palm survive protected for 2 winteres but i lost it this winter because it wasnt heated during most of the winter

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 7:52PM
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US marine, come visit from May to Oct., you might not consider it so cold.

Did not include the Crapes on the list because they are fairly hardy (have Catawba, Zuni, Dynamite, Hopi, and Pecos).

Bamboo too is fairly hardy and have been growing Golden, Black, viridis, Vivax, Fargesa and Borinda for quite a while now.

But did neglect to add Bay laurel and Live Oak.

Ironically, my latest collection craze though is not the subtropicals---it's hardy perrenials!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:29PM
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Denninmi- Just an FYI...Yellow Groove needs no protection at all in my yard, not even leaf mulch or good drainage. As a matter of fact, it's starting to become pretty invasive. I started digging a trench to contain it. Fargesia Rufa also is solidly hardy. I highly recommend Southern Magnolia 'Edith Bogue'. Little winter damage and grows like crazy in the spring.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:56PM
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I actually don't do anything for my bamboos -- they survive without any special treatment. P. aureosulcata actually isn't the most winter hardy of the lot by far, I'v found that P. nuda, P. nigra 'Henon' and P. bissettii all suffer less winter dieback than aureosulcata.

My oldest bamboo has been in the ground now for 22 years. Most of them are at least 10 years old now.

The things that I throw the leaf mulch over are the various perennial/bulb plants, the crinums, agapanthus, alstroes, etc.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 11:05PM
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2 Southern Magnolias
Agave Parryi
Yucca Rostrata
Crape Myrtle Dynamite
Crape Myrtle Zuni
Echinocereus trigloc...
Musa Basjoo
2 types of Hesperaloe parviflora
othe cacti

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:24AM
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New place but we will see. My list, and not all inclusive:

BBB Magnolia
pineapple lily
trachys, needles and minors
Chicago Hardy fig
Hopi and Sioux crapes
confederate jasmine
unknown jasmine
many yuccas and agave parryi
cast iron plant
April Kiss camellia
hardy agapantus
Hardy crinum, 'Sacramento' I believe

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:33AM
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I notice a few of you guys are growing confederate jasmine. I have one in a pot doing well, but if they are that cold tolerant, I will plant it in the ground! Mine blooms indoors during the winter, but I see some more buds coming up now so maybe it will be blooming again!

Great collections btw everyone! We all seem to be growing a lot of the same subtropicals!

And usmarine, I am definitely a bit jealous of your climate! Summers here are a bit hotter (and definitely more humid) so that does make things catch up a little bit, but I would definitely be able to do a lot more if I had milder winters!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 1:29AM
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Yeah I know that. By colder zones I meant the challenges of a colder winter. And that all you guys do an amazing job despite those challenges. Beautiful plants I see in all your posts and updates :) Alot of people here would love to have nice plants like all of yours. People here often forget how lucky we are to be in a mild zone. We got alot to learn still.

- US_Marine

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 1:54AM
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Tropicalzone7- lol we have such low humidity that we should be a desert instead of semi-arid.:p The temperature swings from night and day are crazy. Our average highs in summer are mid-high 90fs but at night it drops on average into the 60f's. We can have up to 30f or more temp differences from night and day. Can't really tell how it affects my coconuts. Some tropicals don't mind, others mind alot.

- US_Marine

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 2:24AM
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Oh yeah, I forgot, I have two specimens of 'E.H. Wilson' Silk Tree and a large, blooming Paulownia tomentosa.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 5:38AM
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Two herbs to add to my list would be Rosemary and Lemon Verbena. The Verbena is deciduous but should be okay in zone 7b/8 or even 7a/6b in a good microclimate. The rosemary can be used as a somewhat informal hedge--added plus is the blue-lavender flowers anytime from as early as February into April, and of course, being an evergreen, can be harvested for cooking year-round.

Denninmi, I grow the Paulownia as a container plant right now. You just reminded me to plant that one out---somewhere. Of course, if you list either that tree or the Mimosa on most forums, you'd be met with a tidal wave of criticism as they are both consiidered highly invasive exotics. Don't know about the Paulownia, but the Mimosa seems to be less common around here than they used to be. They are rarely sold in garden centers now and more likey to be seen growing roadside than in a garden. But if they were that invasive, they should be all over the place and that is not the case. I understand Mimosa is weak-wooded and became prone to a disease in recent decades--maybe that explains their decline.

But getting back to the issue of being an invasive, exotic. I don't understand the problem with Butterfly bushes. They are frequently listed as highly invasive. Well I grow mine as an informal hedge and do not prune them in height but do prune lateral shoots . At 8-10 feet in height and being evergreen or semi-evergreen in my zone, you might consider them for subtropical appeal. I never get seedlings coming so they must be sterile, am I missing something here? Happy gardening & Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:26AM
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I know exactly what you mean about bias against "invasives" -- if I posted about my trees on the tree forum, I would need my flameproof suit on.

My Butterfly Bushes self-sow pretty well, from the original three, a dark purple, a white, and a light purple, I dug up and moved about 30 one and two year old seedlings this past March. But, in Michigan, they're never going to be a problem, because they require deep mulching to survive the winters reliably, they're something else I dump about a foot of oak leaves on every November. About one in three or four winters its mild enough that the unprotected wood above the leaf mulch survives, most years they are strictly a dieback perennial here.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 1:12PM
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A lot of those plants thrive down by me--rosemary (chest high), bay laurel (zone 8 rated and 15' tall, Southern Magnolia commonly reach 30 or 40' tall, crapes, camellia, fruiting kiwi, fruiting pomagranite, gardenia, agave Americana and tree form Indian Hawthorne.

In my own small, historic district garden I have to economize on space. But my own non-palm zone pushers are zone 8 gardenia, oleander and white ginger. After seeing large agave americana in. Bethany Beach, I've planted my largest one in my garden. I've seen some really impressive, large oleander in the area, but I've just not found the right place or right plant in my own garden. I've taken clippings of friends' hardy white, hardy double yellow and hardy pinks and have them rooting. Laura in VB has given me some rooted babies from her garden.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

I don't have too many borderline plants anymore. I gave up planting things that will require extensive protection. I'm ok with throwing a sheet over plants on especially cold nights, but otherwise, they fight on their own haha. I'm terrible, I know :P

My most tender plants here are the following:

Jacaranda Mimosifolia - Suffers foliage damage most years
Tropical Guavas - Suffer foliage damage most years
Lychee Tree - Have never had any damage
Monstera Deliciosa - Suffered foliage damage this winter, and was not protected
Aloe "Hercules" - which hasn't given me any problems with cold. I have three, the largest is over 6 feet tall, the other is nearing 4 feet and another at about 2 feet tall.
Tibouchina Urvilleana - Suffered severe branch die off this winter. It's recovering very nicely.
White Sapote - I have never had any damage to this plant

US_Marine, I find that guavas are actually pretty care free as long as you have them on a watering system. And once they become established they are pretty tolerant of neglect (of course, you'd be sacrificing fruit quality at that point though). Avocados, on the other hand, aren't drought tolerant here and are better off in a shaded area. They aren't bothered by frost (unless you plant a Hass or other more tropical variety).

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Usmarine, Cali is definitely a very dry place! I'm definitely not used to air that dry, but the tropicals I see there dont seem to mind too much. I've seen coconut palms thrive on the dry side of Maui which is similar in precipitation to Cali's, but of course the temperatures are a lot more moderate. I think 90s during the day and 60s at night are fine for coconut palms!
Usually during the summer time we are in the upper 80s here during the day and low 70s at night and the tropicals seem to like that although I'm sure they prefer nights in the upper 70s to low 80s like in Florida!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:21PM
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My Basjoos have returned for 3 years without any mulch,
I don't see them being invasive in Iowa but you never know(-:

Click for weather forecast

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:27AM
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I had basjoos rot out one year in a container in the garage. After that, I have been leery of leaving them outside, but guess I need to try it again.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 12:05PM
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They do fine in zone 7. Cut them down to ground after frost gets them. Let the cold night air get to the stumps for about a week to dry out and signal them to stop growing. Then cover with a few inches of mulch. They do better in the ground than dug up every year, or withered over in chilly garage.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Musa Basjoo
Musa Sikkimenis
Pittosporum Tobira- 2 types
Angel Red Pomergranate
Thomasville Cintrangequat
Fatsia Japonica- 2 types
Cast Iron Plants
Frost Proof and Chuck Hayes Gardenias
Leopard Plant
Hardy Orchids
Elephant Ears, big and small
Optunia, with and without thorns

Some of these are actually fine for this climate.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Forgot to mention the Monkey Puzzle Tree as well as a Silver Dollar Euc.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 5:33PM
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Yes, Eucalyptus works for me too, also just added a hardy gardenia (species augusta). I have olive trees in containers and have been tempted to plant them but don't fully trust their hardiness in a cold/wet winter. I love the subtropicals but my latest kick is cold hardy perrenials, natives, medicinal/herbals and butterfly gardening.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 5:51PM
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I live in zone 6. Does anyone have any tips for creating a micro climate In which I might be able to leave my Confederate Jasmine outside all winter? It is only hardy to zone 8, but our winters are not as cold here in zone 6 as they used to be. My plants are planted in the ground on either side of the entrance to my porch, So they are already as close to the house and I can get them. Would adding a couple of large rocks near them be helpful? Or mounding them up with mulch? Should I cut them back? Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 11:10AM
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