Great forum. Even us guys in zone 4 love the tropics. Here are some pictures during summer and winter protection.
I am envious. I can't get my cannas to bloom in zone 7.
What type of bananas do you have?
Do you dig all the EE's for the winter?
Do you start your plants inside to give them a head start.
I do and still can't get the growth you have.
But I do not water very often because of the drought.
This year we are on total water ban so please post your pictures as my garden will be bare.
Are those banana canna in the background of the third from last picture? I haven't tried them yet, but plan to. They get huge leaves, whatever they are. I checked my rhizomes the other day and there are sprouts everywhere. My wife doesn't know it yet but I'm thinking potting them up and getting an early start in the family room. Probably won't go over too well.
How low did you go this morning? We're at 7f right now, ouch! I have xmas lights draped all over my small needle palm and eucalyptus against the back wall. Palms would be reasonably safe here if it weren't for those 4-5 killer days a year. As well as the time below freezing.
I love your yard, and have to make a trip to Logan this summer to see it!!
Thanks Cactusfreak! The Banana is Ensete (Abyssinian Banana). It grows much faster and larger than Musa. You can grow them from seed (Park Seed Co.) or small plants from nurseries. The nurseries usually sell the red tinted ensete. I will attach a picture of a red ensete I grew last year. In the past, I have transplanted them into 5 gallon containers, chopped off the leaves and stuck them in my unheated storage room in the basement and watered them once or twice during the winter. Sometimes you loose one, but most survive. This year I have them in a heated room with very little light and they are doing just fine. The musa that I have I left outside covered by a 3' styrofoam box and one flourescent light bulb per box. I will attach a picture of the musa. Unfortunately, I dig up all of the elephant ears and cannas each Fall. They do best in raised beds and lots of humus in the soil. For the cannas, the raised beds give the soil more exposure to the sun. They love heat. They get watered once per week, same as the lawn. The Elephant ears in my area do best in filtered sunlight. I will attach a picture of some that reached over 6' high. They also do best in full sun as long as you give them plenty of water so they don't burn. I don't start any of the cannas or elephant ears inside. They get planted outside in May.
Alan, we had -5 F. last night. This has been a balmy winter compared to winters in the past where I have seen -45 F. I remember growning up where it was -30 F. every night for a week or so, and never got up above 0 in the daytime. I hope to see you this summer!
I fogot to mention that the tall plants behind the red cannas and white trellis are canna musafolia, or banana canna. I planted them late this year and did not fertilize them. Normally the grown much taller and have larger leaves. One year I started one rhizome inside in March before planting it outside in May. It grew to 9 or 10 feet high and had huge leaves. Here is the picture again.
Amazing! How old is the windmill palm & is it outside year round? Also...I'm curious. I used to make the drive out to Moab to mt. bike & climb, so I'm familiar with that area. What zone is it(Moab)? Awesome plants.
Thanks daryljurassic! I'm actually up in the extreme north end of the state near Logan, Utah. It is typically zone 4, but about 3-4 years ago, it got down to -39 F. and about 20 years ago it was -45 F. The windmill palm has been outside for the last 7-8 years and grows so fast that I worry about how to protect it in the future. It is 8' now. It is protected by the tall styrofoam box in the picture above. I also do a lot of mountain biking in the mountains near Logan. The mountains east of Logan are awesome!
Thanks for the info, Kevin
Besides musafolia I'd also like to try stuttgart this summer, the variegation is amazing on them.
What varieties of EEs do you grow? The upper ones look like esculenta to me. Are the lower ones illustris?
Cooks greenhouse, down the street, has a ton of giant alocasia I'm thinking of trying this year. There leaves get huge!
The ones in the pictures are all esculenta. They do the best. All others that I have tried seem to struggle, except for a purple stemmed variety I got from Plant Delights Nusery that has dark leaves. It is a "runner" that I believe is an alocasia. One year I tried the largest of them all, the Thailand giant. This also came from Plant Delights. It did great the first year but the second year struggled and died. If you are not familiar with them, check them out on the internet. They are the premier company that is always trying to push the zone limits on tropicals.
It's funny that nearly everyone who likes pushing the zone limits always has a Plant Delights catalog sitting on their shelf, it's the highlight of January for me, especially this snowy year! With my desert plant fixation, I also always have the latest High Country Gardens catalog, as well.
I peeked in on my trachys Sunday and they all seem to be hanging in there. The two next to the south side of the house finally got a frost clothe and a string of xmas lights around the base, for last weeks cold snap. I think they'd have been fine but the snow turning to ice had begun to do damage to the fronds. The two away from the house are ok as well. I built a cold greenhouse for them in November, but added a string of c-9 lights around the bases in early January. I initially put them around the plants but they started to burn the fronds, so I moved them all around the base to let the heat do the trick. Note: the trachy doing its second winter is thriving inside while the other is sustaining some damage. Proof that they get tougher as they go.
So far so good for the needle and sabals. Even the Louisiana seems to be just fine - with ponderosa pine mulch. I won't make the mistake of pulling the mulch in February this year, as I burned nearly everything last year by exposing them to harsh sunlight before they could start drawing moisture again.
Thanks for the update, Alan.
When I left this morning, it was -15 F. at 6:45 AM, so it will be interesting to find out how cold it got after I left. Luckily, the palm boxes are keeping everything warm. We've got tons of snow, so there's a good pile of snow on top of each box. I've got a red ensete banana inside that has grown from 6' to about 11-12' high since Fall. Also have a beautiful pink hibiscus tree in bloom with about ten 7" blooms right now. Inside there's about 30 tropical plants (palms, hibiscus, bird of paradise, lime tree, musa banana, upright elephant ears, etc.) It's nice to enjoy the tropics inside when it is so miserable outside.
Holy Cold, Batman!!!
We dodged a major bullet here last night, the SLC airport got to -2f, we held at 19f - you gotta love cloud cover. Tonight looks to be worse though, it's already down to 20f. I need to hit Wally World and buy up the rest of the c-9s at a buck 50 before they're gone, they'll set me back ten this coming xmas.
I don't have too many items filling the family room, yet, but boy do I have some nice ones. I have a beautiful 3 foot Joshua waiting for spring to put outside, and just potted a gorgeous 3gal needle palm I bought from Mail Order Natives for 20 dollars - it's actually starting to produce fully palmate leaves instead of just the straps my other two have. I bought a magnolia macrophylla and devil's walking stick from them as well - everything for 60 dollars, shipped. An icecream musa and agave lechuguilla x lophantha round up my indoor plants - but I'm usually just getting started by January.
Speaking of indoor tropicals, my dream is to someday have my own arboretum of some sort. I saw one on TV in Colorado that was built against the house and didn't use any heat other than sunlight. It was chock full of all the things that make our proverbially mouths water - open his back door and enter paradise, sans the snakes and pests and poisonous frogs and all there buddies.
Alan, the temperatures got worse. I have three thermometers in the yard in different areas that record the highs and lows for the day. I live on a hill that slopes down to a stream, and the upper part of my yard was -18 F. yesterday morning. However, on the lower part of my yard is was -23 F, within a few hundred feet of the higher temperature! I was not surprised. When it gets this cold, we are usually 10 degrees colder than Logan and 20 degrees colder than Salt Lake City. Oh well. That's why the palms are in boxes. We'll have to get together this summer when all of this ice and snow has melted. I used to have a greenhouse full of orchids when I was in my early 20's before I got married, but eventually let them all die because of lack of time to care for them.
Someday I hope to build a new greenhouse, but not until I'm retired, if that ever happens.
Alan, I forgot to ask. Where did you purchase your Joshua Tree from? I want to give one a try. I think if I keep it covered from the snow, it should possibly survive. There's a fairly good sized one at willard Bay Nurseries between Brigham City and Ogden. I will have to try a Needle Palm again. I had a small one once, but it never did well and eventually died.
I think you'd do fine with it covered and a little warmth. I'll give you a couple of links to Calplants, they have some pretty good deals right now. Also, the Rose Shop in Sandy usually has some if you don't go mail order.
The first link is where I bought mine, the second costs more but shipping is included.
Beautiful stuff! Your photos make me want to try even more marginal plants. Do you have any heat source for the windmill palm? Have you tracked the temps inside your styrofoam boxes?
Hi Steve! On the small 3' boxes (with banana plants inside) I have just one light bulb. On the 4' boxes, they have two screw-in flourescent light bulbs (incadescent bulbs burn out too quickly). The 6' and 8' boxes have three light bulbs. That's the only heat source. The seams on the boxes are caulked to prevent any real heat escape. I have not idea what the temperatures get inside the boxes. All I know is they are just as healthy and green the day I take the boxes off, as when I put the boxes on in the Fall.
Wow! I love the pictures of your yard. You have become an inspiration to me. I live in Layton and have slowly been trying new tropical plants in my backyard and I would love to know where you purchased the banana canna's. Did you buy them locally or mailorder?
Hello Kevin and all
I thought I'd post a couple of pictures; one of my new Yucca brevifolia and a shot taken today of my south wall fortunei and Hesperaloe parvifola. Both seem to be hanging in there nicely. There is some damage from the frost cloth on the trachy, it may have done more than the 6f morning would have done. They were forecasting 0f though. The Red Yucca has been under snow since late December.
Tropic lover, thanks for your comments. What have you tried growing in your area? Regarding the Banana Cannas, I begged one rhizome off of a plant my neighbor got from Plant Delights Nusery back in South Carolina about five years ago. They are one of the premier companies selling hardy tropical plants. Since then, I have fertilized, watered and mulched them well, and they have multiplied so well, that I have sold extra rhizomes to Valley Nursery in Uintah for the last two years, as well as hundreds of cannas and elephant ears. I just plant the banana cannas outside in May and they grow fantastically tall and fast. One year I started growing one in a pot upstairs in the sunlight the first part of march, and after planting outside in May and fertilizing it well, it grew to be 9-10' tall and had huge leaves. People quite often mistake them for banana plants. The Elephant ears can reach 6' even in zone 4 if you give them good growing conditions. Good luck on your experiments!
Alan, great job on keeping the trachy alive! After seeing your Joshua tree, I will be ordering one from Forest Farms in Oregon. They also have some Trachy. Wagner. palms I'm going to try growing since they are more dwarf and only grow to about 15' feet according to their description. Maybe I won't need to build such tall boxes for them.
Artictropical, Thanks for the information, I love Valley Nursery, and frequent there several times a year. I will look there for the banana cannas. Last summer was the first year that I plant some tropical plants outside, mostly elephant ears, caladiums and a couple of musa basjoo banana plants that i kept in pots so I could bring them in for the winter. I think this year I will plant them in the ground. Also want to plant a windmill palm in the ground. I guess if you can do it in Logan then it should work fine here in Layton. Do you start your elephant ears early or just plant them in the ground? I bought a really big upright elephant ear last summer at J & J nursery and was wondering if I should start it in the house now or what? I also have a lot of dahlias, daylilies and just about everything else. But I have decided that I definetly love the tropical look and will be doing a lot more of that this spring. Do you give your cannas any special soil amendments or fertilizer? Mine did not look as good as yours. I planted rhizomes in may and it took them forever to get going. Thanks for any help you can give me, Linda
Linda, thank you for letting me know what you are trying. After growing cannas and elephant ears for over 30 years, I found out that cannas like about as much light, heat and water you can give them. Almost all of my cannas are in raised flower beds, which gives them more heat to their root zone. Any type of organic material you can add to the soil for both cannas and elephant ears will definitely help. I usually add leaves from the yard in the Fall, lots of soil pep (soil additive made from composted bark), dried manure from the farm (I grew up on a dairy farm), peat moss and anything I can find organic. Elephant ears grow well in sun as long as you give them lots of water, but they seem to do the best in strong filtered sunlight. I would be glad so share some banana cannas with you. Keep in mind windmill palms grow very, very fast. The Mediterranean fan palms are more dwarf and grow much slower. I have been amazed how fast the windmill palm grows. It is over 8' now and has been outside half the time of my 4-5' Mediterranean palms. These outdoor palms were quite small when I place them outside, since I purchased them as one gallon size plants, but they really took off once they got established outside.
Kevin, thanks for all the helpful information. I really appreciate it. That would be so nice if you would share some of your banana cannas. How do we arrange that? I would be willing to come up there sometime this spring. My daughter is actually getting married this spring to a guy from Mendon. What town do you live in? I would love to see your yard. Thanks for the info on the palms. I will look for a Mediterranean fan palm. It would be easier for me to handle a shorter plant when it comes to covering it up. Thanks again, Linda
Linda you are certainly welcome! I live in Young Ward, which borders Mendon on the east, so it should not be too much out of your way to stop by. Just let me know when you plan on being in the area. My home phone number is (435) 752-5187. Work is (435) 734-6750.
Kevin, Thanks again, I probably will come up there sometime in April if that is Ok with you. I usually plant those type of plants out in my yard the first weekend of May. I guess you probably have to wait a little longer up there. I really can't wait for spring to get here. All this snow is driving me crazy. I read on one of your earlier posts that you have a bird of paradise and a lime tree. Do you keep them in your house or a greenhouse? How big is the lime tree? I saw one in a catalog and thought that would be something cool to have. Oh, and I was telling a friend of mine at work about the boxes you made to cover your banana's and palms and she said her husband would love to see what you have done. They also are into tropical plants. I told her to check out this posting.
Hi Linda! I actually start planting cannas the last week of April through the end of May. It takes me about that long to get them all planted in my spare time. I have about 30 indoor tropical plants that get sunlight from 6 french doors and large windows on the south side of my A-frame house. Everything does well, although each year the lime tree looses most of it's leaves for some strange reason that I have not figured out yet. Once I put it outside in late Spring, it regrows the leaves. I have always struggled with keeping citrus alive inside, whether it is lemon, lime or oranges. I used to have a very large bird of paradise that bloomed through the year, but I did not repot it when I should have and it went downhill and died. I now have a smaller plant that I grew from seed that has bloomed a couple of times. Also had a giant white bird of paradise years ago about 12 feet tall that bloomed (white and purple-blue flowers) but it is gone, although I have another one that has not bloomed yet. Right now the hibiscus are starting to really bloom with the longer days and brighter sunlight. The ensete banana is going wild and has reached up to the second story of the room. You and your friends are welcome any time to stop by. Saturdays are best.
Wow! Your garden is so beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. When I saw the first picture, I thought it is a botanical garden. I am in NC zone7. I am trying to have a tropical memory garden in my backyard this year. Your garden has given me inspiration and wonderful ideas.
What is the name of the hibiscus in the picture? Is it hardy hibiscus? I like the color.
Thanks for sharing.
Hi Kevin, I will let you know before we come up and it will definetely be on a Saturday. I love your picture with the fountain. What variety is the canna with the pinkish flowers and dark leaves? That one is really striking!
Thanks Sunstar! The second picture with hibiscus in front of the palm tree is 'Lord Baltimore'. The next picture of the large rose-red hibiscus is 'Moy Grande'. These flowers are very large. The last picture is 'Raspberry Rose'. There are better pictures and additional varieties under the Hibiscus Forum. The post is entitled "Earliest flowering of the perennial hibiscus". All of these hibiscus are very hardy and have survived -39 F. temperatures, as long as you mulch them well in the Fall. I tend to add new hibiscus varieties to the yard each year, and probably have 15 different varieties of hardy hibiscus. One of the most beautiful is 'Sweet Caroline', which is the light and dark pink ruffled flower pictured in the hibiscus forum.
Tropic lover, the cannas with the dark leaves and pink flowers is a variety called 'Tropical Rose'. That picture only shows a fraction of the cannas I grow each year. I would guess I have at least 25-30 different canna varieties. It seems strange to remember that there was tropical beauty in the yard last Summer when I look outside now and see two feet of snow on the lawn, and three foot snow banks along side my driveway and deck.
Hi Kevin, I just thought I would share an interesting story with you. I guess my daughter was telling her future in-laws about your yard and how you grow tropicals up there in cache valley and apparently her boyfriend's grandparents say that they know you. Their last name is Cartee. They also live in Mendon. Small world don't ya think? I also have one other question about elephant ears. Have you ever grown the black ones? I had one last year but when I tried to dig it up to overwinter the bulb, I couldn't find one. Are they not the same as the green ones? Maybe I should have just brought the whole plant in the house.
Hi Linda! Yes, I have known the Cartees for decades. Regarding Elephant Ears, I have tried the black ones but did not have success. The only dark colored ones I have had sucess growing outside is a purple stem elephant ear. I believe it is called Fontanesii or something similar. I can't remember. I purchased it from the same internet company the banana canna came from, Plant Delights Nursery. However, I have a nice upright elephant ear that I keep inside that is about six feet tall that is starting to develop a trunk that I'm excited about.
Hi Kevin! Sounds like you have a lot of plants kept indoors for the winter. Do you have a problem with spider mites? Both of my bananas, a couple of smaller elephant ears and a palm have had problems with them. I have had a lot of house plants for years and never had a problem with them until this year when I brought some plants that had been outside into the house. I thought I had gotten rid of them until yesterday when I noticed the palm had them. Yuck! I think I will take it outside today and spray it good with the hose and then bring it back in and put it the basement until I am sure they are gone.
Linda, my biggest problem in growing all of the indoor tropical plants that I have is pests. Unfortunately, they do come inside with the plants in the Fall. Every year I deal with spider mites, green aphids, black aphids, mealy bug and scale. I go through several cans of indoor insect spray each year. Usually it's too cold to take them out and spray them with water, so I keep spraying them with insecticide!
Fellow zone pusher here, Your gardens are just amazing!! I'm going to plant some Musa Basjoo this year, but without the light, have you ever done any without the light?
On your boxes, do you have wood or just styrofoam? I can see some wood, but wondering if the entire box is wood lined with styrofoam? Thank you so much for the inspiration.
your yucca brev is nice! i've never thought of getting one, wasn't sure if i could winter it indoors or not.
Good luck Anita! Regarding the Basjoo, one year the light bulb burned out inside the box, and they froze back to the ground, but sprouted again in the Spring. The advantage in giving them a small heat source is you can keep the stalks alive and give them a head start on growing tall during the summer. The sides of the boxes used for all of the palms and bananas are nothing but painted styrofoam panels. The only wood is the framework to hold the styrofoam panels together.
Thank you, stokes
I just put it in the ground last Thursday. If you want to give one a try without being out too much financially go to High Country Gardens website, out of Santa Fe NM, and they have a small variant Jaegeriana(hardiest Joshua) for about 8 bucks. You'll need to get a couple of bags of gravel and rocks and a bag of cactus soil from Lowes/ HD and build a mound to plant it on. In the wet winter climates they need perfect drainage.
My small jaegerianas came through this very snowy winter here without any damage at all.
Thank you Kevin, I'm still going to try, but I think I might try making the box all wood/styrofoam, I just can't do the lights, Christmas lights get chewed by I don't know what(mice), so I would not want to take the chance on 110 getting chewed on...:)Anita
Anita, strangely enough, we have mice problems in our lawn every year since I live in the countryside with nothing but fields around my house, but I've never had any outdoor extension cords get chewed on by mice. Maybe it is because I pile up a dirt barrier around the base of the palm boxes in the Fall and they don't seem to get inside. They don't seem to bother the cords under the snow on the lawn either. Who knows why?
Here is a link that might be useful:
Thank love the yard,
hello artictropical i need your help to protect my palms
this winter .
I want to know if i need to give some aeration in the box ?
Thank for your help
Henry the french Canadian
Hi Henry! I do not give any aeration to the boxes. It would be too cold to do so. They do just fine without any air. Sometimes some of the outer fronds on the windmill palm get a little mildew/mold from moisture condensation on the fronds, but the inner fronds are just fine. I get no mold or mildew on the Mediterranean fan palms nor the California palm. The tighter the box is against the frigid temperatures outside,the better it is! Good luck.
Thank artictropical your're the best ! ok do u put some stuff on your palms before to cover it ,like insecticide or something else? About temp. how many light bulbs do u suggest for a 10' feet trachy f. and a butia , do u keep the light on anytime ? if not how many hours.
I'm your fan your are my palms gerdeners heroes!
Henry the french Canadian
Thanks Henry...... I do nothing to the palms but tie the fronds together with some plastic twine so that they will fit under the boxes. The lights stay on 24-7 all winter long. For my 14-15 foot Trachy, I have 3 florescent lights at the top and one at the bottom, just for the fun of it! The other palms have 3 lights at the top. By the time I pull off the boxes in the Spring, sometimes one of the light bulbs has burned out, so they have survived with two light bulbs. One year, it was just one light bulb! It's surprising how the heat builds up inside the boxes, just from those light bulbs!
man you have a lot of energy the work is fabulous
Thanks.... Wow, I looked at these pictures again, and they are so old... two years old! The Windmill palm has grown to 15' tall now. The ensete banana (red-leafed) banana is inside my house at the moment, and is way too big and tall to move outside. It must be 25-30 feet tall (I have an A-frame house). I'm growing a California Fan Palm outside that is doing great, and my Med. Fan palm has quite the trunk now, and is a good 8' tall. I'll post new pictures in August.
Merci beaucoup artictropical its so nice to u to take the time to answer me about my numerable question .
thanks again ( i love the way u work )
loock this please and comment:http://i993.photobucket.com/albums/af51/1972henry/famille613.jpg
Great pics Henry! Sorry for the delay in replying. I haven't looked at this forum for over a month. I've got too many forums to keep track of! Your pic looks like a little bit of tropical heaven on earth. Nice feather palm on the left. What is it?
Hi Kevin the palm u asking 4 are a pindo palm or 'butia capitata'.
Thanks to reply .
merci encore 4 reply each time and wish me good luck to this winter whit my hut palm.
Arctic tropical, Are the lights you use in winter solar powered or hooked to an electric outlet?
Electric outlet via extension cords.
Can you use the orange ones, and do you protect the area where 2 plugs meet or bury the cord or protect it in some way? In other words just let the cord lay exposed? I was successful with Musa Basjoo only mulched this last winter, but my windmill palm is not looking too good. I bought another and I will be trying some box or shelter with the new one. I have another palm that MAY bounce back, but your shelters or something like them may be the way to go.
Poaky... Yes, I just use the standard orange exterior grounded extension cords. Where two cords meet, I have wrapped them around a tree trunk/limb so that the connections are not laying on the ground. I then cover the connections with several plastic grocery bags and tape them up so that moisture won't get in, and it seems to work! From my experience, the Styrofoam boxes are the only way to go in my climate, at least.
Sorry to be a pain in the pattutti, but, your Habiscus, you said you mulch heavy. I have a zone 8 hardy hibiscus. Does it need indoors for winter ALL THE TIME? The one you have and mulch heavily is it a really hardy strain or can I POSSIBLY plant mine in the ground with good protection? I know you can't say definitely yeds or no, but the plants you have and your experience caring for them. Your best guess, a Hibiscus from a big box store in a pot. Have you been successful in overwintering a zone 7-8 hibiscus with mulch and burlap wrap or Styrofoam box with a fluorescent bulb or 2?
Hi Poaky1. Tropical woody hibiscus plants are not hardy and I bring them inside before frost hits. It's only ones I leave outside are the herbaceous kind that are meant to die back to the ground each year. They are typically rated for zones 4 or 5. I doubt my method of protecting hardy palms would work for the woody hibiscus since it drops below freezing in the boxes when it gets down to -20 below, I'm sure.
Hey arctic! Wow im always amazed at the work you put into this every year!
Pushing the zone is what makes gardening fun for me at least. I live in chicagoland, which is now classified as zone 6, but it took the fun out of growing zone 6's in a zone 5.
I would love to see all your plants this year, and am curious as to what you do to your hibiscus in the winter (pruning and light requirements)
Ive amassed quite the tropical plant colleciton this year and will definitely be needing some help this fall getting it all in for next year :D
I understand that overwintering some semitropicals and tropicals,is not easy.