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

Disposal of non-native invasive clerodendron
August 15, 2007 - What do you do about clerodendron that is spreading like wildfire. A friend gave me one plant before I was acquainted with invasives!!
view the full question and answer

Native alternatives for Japanese maple
September 05, 2007 - Hi, I am a landscaper trying to create a landscape in a shaded area with no sun. The person likes a Acer palmatum, but I am not sure it will grow there. We live in South Lake Tahoe. So I know of some ...
view the full question and answer

Problem With Vegetable Garden Soil
June 09, 2013 - We live in Liberty Hill on 25 acres and we are working to restore native grasses and plants. We are ardent supporters of the Wildflower center. I say this because my question is not "typical" of wh...
view the full question and answer

Queen Palm Fertilization in Arizona
March 06, 2012 - I placed standard Miracle Grow in a root feeder device and inserted into the ground around all of my Queen Palms. Why have they taken a turn for the worse (furled tips on all new branches) Can you ov...
view the full question and answer

What variations of non-native Lavender will grow in Montgomery County TX
June 18, 2011 - I live in East Montgomery County, Texas. What varieties of Lavender grow best in my area? I had some success with Providence variety and Spanish variety. I would like to grow more varieties if possi...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center