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Cheating Your Zone

March 31st, 2011

It’s always sad when you find a plant you want to grow but it’s not hardy to your Northern climate (I’m sure it’s equally frustrating for you Southern gardeners who can’t grow plants that need chill hours). There are ways that you can cheat an extra zone or two with a few techniques like planting on a south facing slope, covering with mulch and protecting plants with styrofoam cones, or burlap. Another great way is to surround plants with rocks. The rocks will absorb heat from the sun and then radiate that heat to keep the plant warmer. It creates a microclimate that helps plants survive in a climate a little out of their zone.

I have this beautiful Mediterranean Pink Heather growing on my front hillside. It’s technically not hardy in my zone 5 as it’s a zone 6-7. I have a few that hrive on my front hillside which faces south and that are surrounded by very large rocks. I never really thought about this until I planted a few in the back garden which are struggling. Then I realized that they aren’t on a south facing slope and they’re not surrounded by large rocks, I’ll have to move a few that survived. One year I had a black eyed Susan vine survive in my front flowerbed, most likely because of the heavy layer of mulch and it was under a rock because these are a zone 10-11.

Do you ever cheat the seasons with rocks, south facing slopes, mulch, or other forms of protection?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.