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My zone 5 luck may have run out

Posted by aachenelf z5 Mpls, MN (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 2, 13 at 16:07

I can't remember the last time it's behaved like zone 4 around here. That's why I list my zone as 5. Sure, we have cold air every now and then - maybe teens below zero, but not often. I'm sure it's been a decade since we've had 20 below at least where I live in the city.

That may be changing.

I was reading the long-range forecast on the Minnesota Public Radio website (they have a very good reputation for accuracy) and to my dismay there's a pool of very cold air way up in Canada that may - just may - drop this way around the middle of the month. We're talking 20-30 below zero for several days.

I'm depressed.

Kevin


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

you of all peeps .... zone pusher that you are .... should be a little more whimsical about it all ...

after all.. every death ... loss.. is an empty space for your next whim ....

so much for planting based on global warming forecasts.. and how you were all of a sudden going to be z6 ... lol ..

chin up dude... so what.. you knew the odds when you pushed the window ...

ken

ps: i do feel for you.. but i figured you needed a good verbal slap upside the head for claiming to be depressed about it ...


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

One bit of comfort is if the cold stuff does arrive, it won't stay here forever. It will migrate either south or east, so you all will get a good taste of it too! Isn't that evil of me? It does migrate doesn't it? It wouldn't just go back the way it came?

K


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

Here in north central CT my zone was bumped up to 6a back in January 2012 but don't they base the zones on average highs and lows rather than extremes? It was frigid here this a.m. (10) so I'm guessing anything I decided to overwinter in quart pots is toast if we get much more of that between now & March. Most of them are tough-as-nails wintersown perennials but not all are Z5 hardy.

I'm coming to the conclusion that gardening is a crapshoot at the best of times and I'm trying to adopt the attitude "if it survived a few years, just be grateful and move on." Even my baptisia/false indigo barely grew last year ('12) after thriving for many years. What's up with that? It has a taproot and really put on a show in years past. I'll be royally PO'd if I lose my 'Helen von Stein' lambs' ears though. Do you at least have a blanket of snow to provide some insulation for iffy things? For the most part I leave whatever autumn leaves fall on the flowerbeds and clean them up in spring.

Gardeners are risk takers by nature--I think it's a fundamental part of our genetic code...along with hope.

Fingers crossed & good luck, Kevin

Oh, and BTW, you're welcome to keep that cold weather in MN since I'm heating with oil this winter instead of free wood.


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

fer sure.. right across lake MI .. at a 45 degree angle SE right over lansing.. on the way to adrian ...

and it will kill that which suffered severely from this summers drought and intense heat ...

yippee <<<=== thats sarcasm!!!!

but i aint depressed about it ... see link

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: Whatever Will Be, Will Be


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

gardenweed

But I've been very happy with zone 5 plants! Very happy! I don't want to go back to the zone 4 crap. I've been very proud of the fact I've had caryopteris since 1997 and it survives with NO winter protection AT ALL. I want everything to stay the same. (whine, whine, whine)

Not too much snow here. We had about 18 inches, but a lot of that is gone.

Would you believe I've actually been considering zone 6 stuff??

Ken

Loved it! Did you notice over 7 million views?

My current favorite below.

Here is a link that might be useful: video


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

  • Posted by mxk3 z5b/6 MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 2, 13 at 22:08

Now I have that stoopid song stuck in my head right before bed. AARRGHH!!


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

The doggie video was so cute.


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

But Kevin, don't you currently have lots of snow cover? This makes a huge difference in moderating those extreme cold temps that your plants would otherwise experience.

And one advantage of a snap or two of extreme cold is its effect on 'bad bugs' which have seemingly thrived the past few growing seasons due to our wimpy, too warm winters.


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

'ken' wrote: after all.. every death ... loss.. is an empty space for your next whim ....

I agree completely! And for those of us with limited space this is often the only 'humane' way ;) allowing us to get new things into our garden.


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

There might be a foot of snow on the ground, but it's probably less than than. Plus, we're suppose to experience a January thaw before the potential "big freeze" which would reduce the snow cover even more.

Last season we had almost NO snow. The ground was pretty bare throughout the winter and I don't think I lost a single plant which really surprised me. In addition we went into winter in drought mode which surprised me even more.

I suppose it all boils down to how long the potential deep freeze lasts which brings up another question: When the experts say something is hardy to 20 below, does that mean 1 night of 20 below or a week of 20 below? That's always puzzled me.

Kevin


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

I'm part of the team that designed the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The zones are based on the average of the lowest temperatures each winter for the 30 years ending 2005. Then divided into 5 degree zones. But on the interactive map you can find out exactly what your average low temperature has been based on zip code, so you can know how close to a zone edge you might be.

If you are zone 5a, your average low temperature over 30 years could be anywhere from -15 degree F to -20 degree F. But you get the same zone if your average is -15.1 as if it is -19.9.

We specifically say that the temperature is based on the average, not the lowest it has ever been or the lowest it ever will be.

But like they say about the stock market, past behavior is not a guarantee of future behavior.

Of course, the scale of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map only goes down to about one-quarter mile, so you still have to know the topography of your own garden. My official zone is 7a, but I'm really 6B because I'm surrounded by Rock Creek Park, the largest urban green space in the country. There isn't enough black top and concrete to hold the heat and lots of tree canopy (although less now after the derecho).

Some genuses have Societies that are now doing independent testing for cold hardiness. But there is no real convention for using a particular amount of exposure as the basis for rating a variety--single night vs. multiple nights. Also, hardiness really depends on when the cold exposure comes. If the plant has a chance to be conditioned to colder temperatures in a gradual slide, it will be better able to survive than a sudden drop to a cold temperature.

There is more scientific convention about the hardiness of agricultural crops, but it is still pretty loose.

Mostly I think ornamental plant breeders just grab the hardiness zones on record for the species of a plant and who knows how precise those really were when they were recorded.

That's one of the reasons I peruse and often buy from very reputable mail order nurseries like Plant Delights, who do a lot of their own testing of new varieties and tell you what they've found and if it differs from the label given by the breeder.

I know this isn�t new information for many gardeners, but I thought I�d confirm what most of us believed.


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

I also asked some of scientists about how breeders calculate hardiness zones for new varieties and they pointed out that the differential between night and day temperature plays an important role in plants surviving. In Minnesota the night time temperature may get lower but it stays closer to that temperature during the day. Here in DC, the nights can be very cold and warm up a lot during the winter day. That makes a plant more vulnerable to the cold and less hardy.

So many pesky variables, so little time to garden.

It would be nice if there were more temperature controlled green house testing facilities, but it would add expense to bringing a new variety to market, so it is not likely to happen.


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

kimka - That was fantastic info. Thanks so much for taking the time to post it.

Kevin


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

Two things that might spark a little hope, the frost probably isn't too deep into the ground yet, which may "soak up" some of the severe cold as it continues to freeze.... and maybe those -20's will turn into -10's over the next couple days.
Four days ago our forecast, which is also fairly accurate, was calling for a low of 0F for tonight.... now the low is supposed to be 20.


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

Last season we had almost NO snow. The ground was pretty bare throughout the winter and I don't think I lost a single plant which really surprised me.

Kevin, this impressive survival rate might be due to the corresponding moderate temperatures we/you received last winter as in that case snow cover isn't as important.

This post was edited by rouge21 on Sun, Jan 6, 13 at 7:59


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RE: My zone 5 luck may have run out

Possibly, but I know we did have some of that subzero stuff too. Not 20 below, but I believe in the teens below. Maybe it was of short duration and that made the difference.

Kevin


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