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Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

Posted by msbatt 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 20, 06 at 15:30

I'd like to hear from folks who are growing plants that aren't *supposed* to survive here. I'm nuts about tropical and tropical-looking plants, and I baby along several. I'd like to grow more, but time and money IS limited, so---I'd like to talk with other tropical nuts' about what successes they're having in Tennessee. I actually live in the northwestern edge of 'Bama, within rock-throwing distance of both the TN and MS lines, but I figure anything that's being grown successfully anywhere in TN should work for me, too. And yes, I told GW I live in TN, just so they'll let me post on THIS forum, since I am a charter member of Jan's wonderful Middle Tennesse Plant Swap!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

I have a bed of amaryllis that I have had real good luck with so far. I mulch them pretty good, with pine needles. The hardy banana reached fourteen and a half feet this year. Trying to save some of your Brug's outside this winter.

RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

My wife and I grow quite a few tropical plants in our garden. One of the main reasons that we decided to start doing this was that many of the folks on this forum were doing it with a lot of success. We continue to try to experiment with different things from year to year, and believe it or not we have had great luck growing some plants listed as zone 9.

Here is a list of what we grow now, all in ground.

2 Trachycarpus "fortuneii"
Trachycarpus "bulgaria"
Sable Palmetto "texana"
2 Sago "revoluta"
2 varieties of Oleander
Fatsia "japonica"(bloomed this year for the first time)
Philodendron "selloum"
Manihot (Tapioca tree)
several varieties of Brugmansia(we have left these in the ground and they will come back, but their growth is very slow through the year. Better to cut them off and put in the ground again the next season)
several varieties of Colocasia and Alocasia
several varieties of Ginger(Hedychiums do best, but do have about 4 Curcuma)
amararyllis "ackermanii"(grows great)
gloriosa vine(listed as zone 9, but has been in the ground here for 4 years)


RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

Wow! Really surprised about the gloriosa vina! I have looked at those with longing a bunch of times, but was afraid they would never make it here in Madison. You give me hope. :-)

RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

I have 3 sabal palmettos that have survived three winters in the ground, and one of them is doing well this year in a pot. (I dug it up in preparation for a move.) I've had brug's and 2 varieties of ginger in the ground for several years, an "empress banana" has done well and phildendron selloum came back up last year, but only put out 3 leaves all season. A surprise for me has been the Dracena plants that not only survive, but thrive in the ground, last year the 3 around my little water feature did not even freeze completely, although they lost their 'hearts'. Small shoots were protected by the remaining leaves of last season's growth and had a head start in the spring. Also surprising to me were the little amarillis seedlings that survived the winter last year outdoors in 3" pots. Most of these were brought in this winter, but there are a couple I left out to see what happened this year. I also left my large sago out this winter to see what it would do with no protection.

RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

I can't kill the Musa banannas. As long as I cut them off to the ground and pile 8"-10" of soil over them they do fine every year. I even get blooms and 'naners right before the first cold weather knocks them out.

There are always several types of tropicals that make it to the Middle Tennessee Plant Swap. The added bonus is that you can talk to the person that grows them so you know what to do in order not to lose them.

RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

I forgot to mention the 'airplane' or 'spider' plants, commonly grown as houseplants have overwintered in the ground with out protection for the last 2 winters in my yard.

RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

My only real tropical that has come back is a Tropicana canna. I was told that it should come back, but it did and it is really beautiful. Striped leaves and the younger leaves look dark purplish. I believe the flowers are bright orange if I remember correctly.


RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

I have heard that here in Madison (just NE side of Nashville), our zone has been upgraded from 6 to 7A. Can anyone else comment on this?

If so, it would certainly explain the lantanas (other than Miss Huff) coming back in my garden....

After chatting with Ann a bit more, I think I'd have to pot up the gloriosa vine and bring it indoors to go dormant.....but I still have high hopes for those ginger lilies I got at the fall swap. :-)

RE: Pushing the zone envelope, anyone?

The new hardiness zone map shows the majority of Tennessee now as zone 7a. With the milder winters and long hot summers, I would agree with their rezoning!

Many of my hedychiums, curcumas and colocasias are hardy for me. I do mulch heavily though, just to be safe. But I am just a big chicken with a lot of my tropicals - - most of them are overwintered inside. But then MOST of them truly could not survive our winters.

Here is a link that might be useful: changes in hardiness zones

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