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

Native plants more beneficial for Maryland and Chesapeake Bay?
April 07, 2010 - Why are native plant species more beneficial than non native plant species for the state of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay?
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of non-native closet plant
August 26, 2008 - I have a closet plant that is not doing well no matter what I do or where I put it. What is the best way to care for one of these beautiful plants?
view the full question and answer

Student project on non-native bush snap beans
October 30, 2006 - I am doing a science project for school that involves bush snap beans. For my research I am required to have at least one interview with a professional on plants. I was hoping that you would be able ...
view the full question and answer

Survival of non-native mimosa in Pennsylvania
June 08, 2008 - Can a mimosa tree survive in Pennsylvania weather?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping a new yard in El Paso, TX
July 01, 2010 - I am starting my back yard, we want to plant some sod grass and shade trees. We were doing some research and came across the Paulownia and the Royal Empress tree. I like them since they grow very fast...
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