what does not (won't) grow in the south

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)November 3, 2011

This post is for FUTURE reference. I live in northern MI now, but I'd like to at some point garden in the south. Zones I'm thinking of would be 7,8, or 9; states would be Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, or Georgia.

This is probably going to seem like a very odd topic to post, but I'm wondering what can't be grown in the south; or will struggle/die if you plant it there.

I'm guessing stuff that requires overwintering. The stuff that comes to mind is....

*Artichokes (globe variety)


*Parsnips (this is kind of iffy; I know it would be able to be grown in the south; however the flavor would be inferior wouldn't it? parsnips require hard frost to develop good and sweet flavor)

*Asparagus (not sure on this one, that is don't know if it can be grown in south or not; does it require an overwintering period to mature? I'm not sure)

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The northern conifers like Spruce and Fir. Old fashioned lilacs. Tulips are considered annuals.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 8:32PM
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I know you can grow asparagus and artichoke, pretty sure about the rhubard and not sure about parsnips. If they are like turnips we grow those.
Few peonies grow here, a few do.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 9:56PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

A little over 4 yrs ago, I moved from central OH to extreme southern AL. Tomatoes are the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to things that will grow well up north but don't do so well in the south. There are probably varieties of tomatoes that do very well here and I just don't know what I'm doing but I haven't found a truly tasty tomato from any garden or store since I moved here.

I don't recall seeing any cherry trees down here. Lupines, English primrose, "real grass", are on the "don't bother" list. The violets we brought down here have all died, so did Pulmonaria (lungwort.) Most veggies can be grown, you just have to learn when, which is usually much later or earlier (or both) than up north.

If you're like me, you might discover after you move that, according to your new neighbors, you have a yard full of "weeds" that you consider beautiful, wonderful novelties, such as pink Oxalis, Tradescantia pallida (purple heart,) Lantana, morning glories, spiderwort (Tradescantia, probably virginiana,) elephant ears, liriope (monkey grass,) Verbena, passion vines.

You might enjoy reading this discussion.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 10:47AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Elevation often dictates better what you can grow here, that and soil type.
Except Florida which tends to have all extremes of heat and humidity, the other states offer different planting zones depending on elevation.
Once you decide on the State to which you'll relocate, then you can revel in the longer growing seasons and discover many plants you couldn't plant in the far North.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 11:37AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You might not be able to grow artichokes in southern Florida. You're right on the rest of the stuff, and I don't know for sure about the asparagus either, lol!

Once you settle into your adopted location, you can learn about the horticultural benefits as well as the limitations. Some things you will have to leave behind, but others will thrive if you plant them in the appropriate season. For every favorite plant you won't be able to bring with you, you'll soon find (as the others have hinted at) many more that you will fall in love with.

You'll have other things to think about than plant species. Don't let the red, clay soil scare you!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 4:05PM
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Dear purpleinott,
I'm sure you're aware that tomatoes are a staple of the Southern vegetable garden. If you're having problems growing tomatoes, you should consult your local agricultural extension service. Their specialists can advise you about the successful cultivation of tomatoes. In all probability, you will find the Alabama Extention Service's publications online. At least, that's true in GA, FL, NC, and SC.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 4:20PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi jay. Thanks! I know they are and said I don't know which kinds do better here. I was relying on the local, owner-operated garden center to make that decision. However, I have not had any tomatoes down here that taste like they do up north, no matter who grew them or where down here they were grown. I have high hopes for compost volunteers next year! Love a good mutt. Also going to order some heirloom veggie seeds, and tomatoes will definitely b on the list.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 10:56AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

There are lots of things that will grow here, but their performance is quite different from up north. For instance, Shasta Daisies, echinaceas, and rudbeckias all grow here, but they bloom only once instead of the repeat blooms you get up north. Very early blooming, old fashioned peonies grow here in good soil and afternoon shade.

Asparagus grows here as long as it is given very good conditions, starting with a raised bed full of well amended soil. I had it at my old house. I am testing parsnips this fall. So far, I am not impressed, but we will see. I have some friends here who start rhubarb from seed every year and have a nice crop from it as an annual. Personally, I don't like it that well, but maybe you will. As others have said, there are lots of trade-offs.
Here are some:
no penstemons (except tenuis), but yes to salvias
no to canterbury bells, but yes to balloon flowers
no to sweet alyssum (except in fall and earliest spring), or baby's breath, but yes to euphorbia diamond frost
no to delphiniums, yes to larkspur
no to oriental poppies, yes to shirley poppies
no to rhododendrons (in the deep south), yes to azaleas
and camellias
No to the vast majority of apples, but yes to peaches
No to cherries, yes to persimmons and cooking pears
No to grapes, yes to muscadines and figs
no to raspberries, yes to blackberries (rabbiteye), blueberries, and strawberries
And let us not forget MELONS! We have a long and luscious season of those.

You can grow nearly every vegetable here, but timing is crucial. Snap beans do well from the last frost date until temperatures climb into the mid nineties (by the end of June here). Then they can be replanted in mid August and will bear beautifully until frost in mid November here. Yes, I am still picking pole beans.

Tomatoes are similar. We plant them as soon as the ground warms and get a very good crop until late June. Then most folks pull them out and replant a hot weather crop like cowpeas. I keep cherry tomatoes in pots, move them to an afternoon shade spot, keep them watered and fertilized, and by September, they start producing again. I am still picking a bowl full of Sungolds each week from my one plant.

purple, you might want to try Rutgers, Celebrity, Black Krim, or Black Zebra next year. Brandywine is good too, but doesn't make many tomatoes.

I have a friend who grew up in New Jersey. She wanted "Jersey tomatoes" this year and learned from a New Jersey friend that the seed was called Rutgers:) She says they don't taste the same and I believe her. Soil definitely affects flavor in tomatoes. However, I think Rutgers is a mighty fine tomato and it does well here even in less than perfect growing conditions. Creole tomatoes are another case in point. They are good here, but they are much better when grown in Louisiana soils.

In the dog days of Summer, July and August, the best crops to grow are sweet potatoes, limas, and cowpeas. No matter how hot it gets, they produce their heads off. They are rarely even grown up north because the growing season isn't long enough.

Lettuce will grow here, but only in spring, fall, and winter (what a shame). Greens won't grow in the summer, but will grow from fall until last frost. Ditto for onions, carrots, and garlic.

This is a wonderful place to garden, all in all. Your best strategy is to read all you can that is written by and for southern gardeners. When you decide where you are going, look up the local Master Gardeners program or garden club. Gardeners here, like everywhere, are generous hearted people who are more than happy to help you.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 5:07PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Tomatoes will grow fine here. They may 'take a break' during the hottest time, but will come back and you'll get a second season out of them in the late summer/early fall. I had the best tomatoes and eggplants just a few days ago. I am growing asparagus, first time, but it should be ok.

There are some things you should not grow because they will do 'too well' if I can use that phrase. Morning glory is one. I am still trying to get rid of it after 8 years of foolishly planting it.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 9:47PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Donna, thanks for the tomato info & love your list. I think the tomatoes we ate every day for like 6 weeks this summer were Rutgers. I will leave them labeled in the future.

Earlier this week we ate the first sweet potatoes I've ever grown. Now THOSE were more tasty (and deeply orange) than any I ever had and we plan to have many more next year.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:09AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Rutgers is one of the old favorites for truck farmers....because they are so sturdy, disease resistant, thick skinned, and have a long 'shelf life'. Personally, I don't think they have much flavor. I grew Marglobe this year, which has Rutgers' genes and though we harvested over a hundred tomatoes from one plant (even through a couple of hard frosts), I'll never grow it again. They taste too much like grocery store tomatoes (which they are), even picked red ripe off the vine. ;-(

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:11PM
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Really great advice! I'd add that Big Beef tomato is pretty tasty for a hybrid and it never stops producing during the heat.

Oh and there are definitely at least 2 different tomatoes called Rutgers and one does taste a whole lot better than the other. The one sold in my area is not the good one.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 4:17PM
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In Johnson City TN there is no way to tell what will grow. Different slopes of the same hill have entirely different growing conditions. You want to check just how patchy the area climate is. Around here you can grow tomatoes (depending on variety, that's right, - European heirlooms are unpredictable) and any leaf vegetables, but rhubarb is tricky. Anybody except for me can grow cucumbers, squash, melons, but maybe there are more people with a plot like mine? I gave up on squash and melons. I have heard that artichokes are hard, but I have a bush that has been bearing tolerably for 5 years. I heard from several people who gave up on dill. Carrots are routinely ruined by some fly/aphid type pest.
But you ask a neighbor, they probably will give you a different account. It is best not to garden in East TN because it is so unpredictable.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 12:54PM
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idixierose(z8b Coastal SC)

Nobody's mentioned okra -- it's going strong in the heat of July and August, long after the squash, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes have retired.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 10:27PM
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chrmann(z7 AL)

I think alot depends on your soil. I have started some plants and they don't do good and moved them to another spot and they take off. I have great luck with tomatoes, okra, sweet potatoes, squash, cucumbers, peas. Sometimes green beans don't do well for me. But, for a neighbor they do and their tomatoes don't do good. Tomatoes grow great next to roses! Also, I dig the hole they are planted in 18 inches deep and fill it full of water. Then, I amend the soil with compost, fertilizer, lime, bone meal. I have even added egg shells and coffee grounds. I pull all the leaves off the plants except the top leaves, wrap newspaper tightly around the stem, put in the soil with only the top leaves showing. Then, I water again , put on several layers of newspapers and top with 4-6 inches of mulch. I then, put a stake in the ground and put a tall cage around the tomato. Lastly, I put a newspaper cap over the tomato for a few days. Last summer we consistently had 90 + degree weather and drought conditions and I only had to water one time. In the south, mulching deeply is important. I live in northern Alabama. My Dad grew up in southern New Mexico (Carlsbad). It was consistently dry there. He learned to grow an organic garden and used mulch. He always had a good garden. But, like everywhere else thesedays, the weather has changed. So, by the time you move south, the climate could be different. The last two years, the weather has been completely different around here. My Dad learned lots of ways to irrigate plants. He used to plant a HUGE can with holes in the bottom next to plants. He then would fill the can with water as needed. Don't worry, You will learn how to garden when you move here. I have consistently grown 6 tomato plants and furnished 4 families enough tomatoes to put up 60 quarts in their freezer and tomatoes to eat. My friend down the road grows about 60 tomato plants and have few tomatoes. They do not mulch or stake their tomatoes. I firmly believe mulching a garden, companion planting and not growing the same crop in the same place every year are the keys. My friend complains about their garden every year. But, they do not grow things like I do. They use no mulch, plant vegetables in the same spot every year and do not use companion plants.
I would study and make a list of what crops grow good next to each other. You can get a list of the vegetables grown for the area you want to grow them from the extention office.

NOTE: I have found through companion planting, you do not have to use chemicals to kill bugs. Also the type of mulch you use could be important. For years, I got mulch from the Botanical Garden in Huntsville, Alabama. Then, one year, they closed it down to gardeners. I believe it is now open again. Anyway, I did not have enough mulch for my garden (2 acres) so I bought some cypress mulch from Lowes. Cypress and cedar mulch repell bugs. That has been the best mulch I have ever used. Also, those two last longer than other types of mulch.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use pine mulch next to your house. You will get termites. Pine mulch does not repell bugs. I consistently use cypress or cedar mulch in my flower beds next to the house. We have lots of cedar trees in our yard. I use them as posts for raised beds and shred it to use as mulch around the plants I grow.

Some plants can be grown much earlier than normal by putting black plastic on the ground and covering the plants with caps (I use milk jugs that I have cut the bottoms out. I take the lid on or off depending on how cold it is. You can also put "fresh" manure between the rows to warm up the ground and then put the black plastic down. This is a good way to have early watermelons!

It will take some reading and experimenting to learn what will grow where you want to live.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 3:10PM
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Having grown up in central AL, and re-located to the frigid northland(TN,MO,KY) - and along the way, tried to take some stuff back home to AL, I can say...

Rhubarb can be grown, at least as far south as Tampa FL, from seed, as a 'winter annual' - but it won't be a reliable perennial in The South. Info I've seen suggests the green-stemmed varieties probably are best for that purpose.

Gooseberries will be 'iffy' at best in areas warmer than zone 6 - though Pixwell and Glenndale may work, if you put them in a spot that doesn't suffer full afternoon sun exposure. Granted, neither of those are 'dessert' quality gooseberries, but, if you want a gooseberry in The South, they're the ones to try.

Tart pie cherries, like Montmorency, may work OK, at least in, say, zone 7 - but the sweet cherries probably won't.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Still a newbie gardener, but I have been amazed at how plants recommended by books or magazines as appropriate for our zone require entirely different conditions. Some veggies recommended for spring will only grow in fall and over the winter. Others can't stand the clay soil. Some grow vigorously and start to produce huge quantities but are killed at peak season by humidity/mildew. It is so complicated and fascinating, I understand now why gardening is a lifelong addiction!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 11:25AM
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plan9fromposhmadison(8A Madison Mississippi)

My Great Grandparents had a wonderful garden in the Mississippi Delta. They had very reliable Asparagus, which was dug up and replanted by relatives, when the plantation was sold (so the various cousins would never have to speak to each other, again...such a dumb liquidation of a great investment). Anyway, Peaches, Plums, and Pears did very, VERY well. They had several kinds of figs, from the sweet, dark ones, to the big, pale ones the French use in salads/with soft cheeses. They were starting to experiment with the new Apple varieties from Israel, when they died. I remember some pretty good Ein Shemer Apples: NOT as good, though, as the Plums. I remember they ordered seeds for their garden from Reuter's, which was a Southern concern, in Mobile or New Orleans, so the cultivars were those which worked in the South. All kinds of delish vegetables from that garden. They also had grapes. I remember a Concord, scrambling into a particularly luscious Peach, they'd planted from a pit.

They had the grounds around their home arranged into green-walled, 'rooms', interwoven like a medieval tapestry...rose blossoms next to delicious fruits... We'd just wander through the rooms... traipsing over Phlox, Tradescantia, and Periwinkle, finding a fragrant rose spilling from the green wall, inches from a ripe Peach or Pear.

Other people in the Delta grew Pomegranates and Loquats, quite effortlessly. Loquats are nice, because (besides being supremely beautiful small trees) they produce almond-scented blooms in winter, and fruit at the beginning of swimming pool weather. As kids, we could get out of the pool, nosh on nearby Loquats...straight from the trees, then jump back in the water.

There are lots of berries which do well in the South. You just have to get the right ones. There are various blueberries, etc. bred for the South. If you're shopping for a property to buy, and the realtor points out some Pecan trees, that's GREAT. Pecans have extreme health benefits, and a couple of trees are enough to last you through the year. Our ever-provident Grandfather planted BLACK WALNUTS (an experiment, I think, to see if they could be grown en-masse to feed his lumber mills). Anyway, they seemed to produce bumper crops every year. So, a property with Walnut trees would get points in its favor (Black Walnuts offer EPIC health benefits, as well as culinary delights, and are up next to Truffles and Caviar, in terms of Dollars-per-ounce.)

Dewberries are native and luscious. So don't fret because you can't grow Raspberries. Oh! And MULBERRIES do fantastically well in the South. You'll be amazed how many exotic and delish kinds there are.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 8:34PM
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We moved down here in 2011. We are on the south side of Fort Myers. I grow beautiful luscious tomatoes but I start my garden in November. I can do 2 seasons this way because by the end of April it is getting just too hot for plants to do well. I grow huge broccoli heads and was told they wouldn't grow well here but mine do fine and I get several small heads after the main large head. Green beans grow fabulous down here too. I bought 2 blueberry plants 4 years ago and I know they are supposed to bloom and produce berries in the spring but hey mine are starting to bloom right now in late December so I am very happy.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2014 at 9:48PM
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