En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 10, 2009

From: Syracuse, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native tropicals for Syracuse, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in upstate New York but am a fanatic about tropical plants, palms and banana trees. They're obviously all in pots that I take indoors, and I lose them from time to time. (Had a coconut palm that lasted 13 months - I don't know how.) Is there any tropical tree that I could actually grow outdoors to impress the neighbors? I think I'm in Zone 5b.

ANSWER:

The expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is exclusively that of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Your situation proves our case. A plant native to New York would be able to survive outdoors because it has adapted over eons of experience to the climate, rainfall and soils of that area. There are non-native tropicals that can be grown in South Florida, Texas and California, but not Zone 5a to 5b, where Onondaga County is. With average annual minimum temperatures of -20 to -10 deg. F, it is unlikely that a tropical plant could even survive nighttime summer temperatures. Most tropicals are considered adaptable to Zones 10 to 11. You are certainly free to grow and enjoy whatever plants you like, but there is no way to alter the natural requirements of a plant. Continuing to grow those plants indoors is really your only choice.
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Karoo rose
June 15, 2007 - Where would the Adenium obesum/desert rose/Karoo rose pictured in the Austin American-Statesman's Gardening section on 06/09/07 be available for purchase in or near the Taylor, Texas (76574) area?
view the full question and answer

Problem with non-native gerbera daisies
June 09, 2009 - My gerber daiseys leaf but they don't want to bloom. They come back. What am I doing wrong?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting non-native mimosas in Braintree MA
August 10, 2010 - I want to transplant some baby mimosa trees. Have tried in past and they just die.
view the full question and answer

Non-native Dietes bicolor leaves brown after freeze in Austin
January 31, 2010 - I live in Austin, and my butterfly iris (Dietes bicolor) that I've had for the last 6 years are all turning brown after the most recent freeze. Should I cut them back, with the thought being they wo...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native hollyhock in Austin
April 03, 2010 - Our hollyhocks develop small yellow spots on the leaves; these eventually spread into little swellings on the underside; I think of them as lesions. They spread and the leaf turns brown and shrivels ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center