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Re: Temperature requirements for Helicodiceros

  • Subject: Re: Temperature requirements for Helicodiceros
  • From: Steve Marak <samarak@gizmoworks.com>
  • Date: Sun, 31 Jan 2010 12:09:54 -0600 (CST)

I'll second Tony's comments on Dracunculus vulgaris. It's been grown here 
in NW Arkansas for at least 100 years now, 25 of those by me, and we were 
(up until the last 10 years or so) a solid USDA zone 6. Some strains 
appear to be more cold hardy than others, as these plants have also 
survived at the Denver BG (USDA zone 5) for some years now, where other 
strains did not. (Of course, "hardy in Denver" is a standing joke in some 
horticultural circles - despite their colder temperatures, Denverites can 
grow many things I can't.) Dracunculus will no doubt send up leaves here 
in the next 3 or 4 weeks, and they will be subjected to several hard 
frosts but will not be damaged unless the temperatures get below about -8 
or -9 C (16-17 F).

I've been unable to grow Helicodiceros outdoors here, and have now killed 
it more than Tony's requisite three times but will probably kill again, 
because I know of someone who has kept it alive in Kansas City - about 320 
km (200 miles) north of me, and therefore generally a little colder but 
otherwise similar - for several years.


On Sun, 31 Jan 2010, Tony Avent wrote:

> Aroiders:
> As often happens, gardeners seem to have greatly underestimated the winter
> hardiness of both Dracunculus vulgaris and Helicodiceros.  Our former
> research horticulturist Petra Schmidt brought clones of Dracunculus here
> from her previous home in St. Louis, where she had grown them for many
> years, so Zone 6b would certainly be fine and probably colder.  We have had
> numerous calls from Zone 6 areas of Tennessee over the years where
> Dracunculus vulgaris grew fine.   Helicodiceros have also been fine here for
> more than a decade surviving temps to at least 6 degrees F with no mulch.
> As with many plants from warm climates, they need good summer heat to
> produce an adequate amount of sugars to fully develop their potential winter
> hardiness.  We are predicted to drop near 10 F tonight (we hit 9F last
> winter) and a number of our helicodiceros are already up and growing, so we
> may get some burned foliage, but the plants should be fine.  

-- Steve Marak
-- samarak@gizmoworks.com
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