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Ulmus x 'Frontier'

Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 8:34

I'm considering this plant for an area in which I want an airy texture but have a couple questions I can't seem to confirm.

The US National Arboretum who introduced the tree says its hardy to zone 4 but all other sources state zone 5 so I'm wondering if its not as hardy as expected. I'm thinking it will be fine during a rough zone 5 winter.

The fall color appears to develop late. Does it have any resistance to late freezes? I feel like every other fall hard freezes arrive in early to mid October and zap many trees before they can develop any appreciable fall color. Not surprising, the natives around here have no oaks and maples. Its more the exotics or natives that inhabit areas like the east.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Ulmus x 'Frontier'

There are some trees locally that I "think" are Frontier. Color seems right, and they are late to color. Also note that I have not specifically watched them. However I have not noted them as being freeze zapped either. Since this is a hybrid form, might try looking into the parent species. Unless one of those is prone to late/early freezes, then IMHO you would have little to worry about. If you can't find that, then look to the origin of the parent species. For example our Shantung and Chinese Pistache come from inland somewhat arid regions in Asia, regions that are also prone to late/early cold due to relationship relative to Siberia and the motherload of cold. In my experience both species are VERY resistant to late/early cold. While others that originate much further away i.e Acer palmatium, not so much. This is not full proof, as there are exceptions, but I have found using this line of reasoning has worked well.


RE: Ulmus (carpinifolia x parvifolia) 'Frontier'

You have asked hardiness questions before. I've suggested you consult a quite reputable grower in your region, that I suspect mimics your climate conditions - Beaver Creek Nursery of Poplar Grove, IL.

They are field growing Ulmus 'Frontier' to rather large sizes - 5.5" caliper - which should vouch for solid performance in your zone.

Per your skepticism about ratings: USNA probably could be faulted for its deliberate (read: slow) process in evaluating plant selections before release. I for one thank institutions like this for being thorough.

With the abruptness of most plant releases from the private sector - due to the rigors of the market and fleeting whimsy of the gardening public - one might wonder if new selections are tested anywhere at all. At least USNA has a system of trialing sites which allow it to confidently state its case for hardiness and performance ratings - with the data to back it up.

If you are serious about wanting proof, contact places like the Morton Arboretum, UW Longenecker Gardens, or the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum at Chanhassen.

Additional links:

Here is a link that might be useful: Beaver Creek Nursery 'Frontier' description

RE: Ulmus x 'Frontier'

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 17:53

Gents, thanks for the info. Sometimes the obvious can slip by....looking into parent performance and contacting local arboretums.

I should see if Longnecker has this plant since its considered as cold as my area. I checked a bit more into trials in the Great Plains and MN and looks like it experiences dieback in zone 4.

"Because it has sustained some low-temperature injury in
Minnesota, ‘Frontier’ is considered reliably hardy only
through USDA zone 5"

I'll check with Johnson's Nursery to see what they've observed for fall color.

RE: Ulmus x 'Frontier'

There are several landscape sized ones at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL. They may be a bit more protected than your location, but they appear to handle Chicago weather fine. I would check and see how they make it through this stinking winter!

Here is a link that might be useful: Article that talks about Frontier Elm including pictures of one at CBG

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