Zone pushers

For you zone pushers dreaming over catalogs and nursery websites, put this week indelibly in your minds to help cure you of such temptations. Even the tried and true struggles at times. The heavy snow here should help my plants survive the winter, I hope.



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I’m afraid the addiction is too strong. We spent most of 2 days bringing in, covering and otherwise protecting subtropicals. 24 hours ago we were at 17°f. We are warming up now, all the way to 21°f now. By Wednesday we’ll be in the 70s. We are technically zone 9a, but the solar minimums are disputing that. Will I keep acquiring tropicals and tropicals? Yes! D


Trying to grow Pineapple Guava in zone 7A/B. Planted this spring. Wrapped them with wire cage/frost cloth and then over that a plastic garbage bag. My young Asian persimmons got buried in a pile of wood chips. Best I could do. Got down to 4 degrees here.
Best I could do. Now just hope.


What temperature did you get down to, @ramv? My yard bottomed out around 17°F but mostly stayed above 20°F other than a couple hours on Wednesday night. I’m hoping most of my zone pushing stuff pulled through ok, at least some of the avocados were covered. But I won’t be home for another 10 days or so, so that’s the soonest I can inspect stuff. My temperature chart for this week:

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Will see what several hours of 12 degrees does to my in ground figs. The roots should be fine, unsure about tops. The accompanying wind may have doomed the tops.


I have a report of Illini Blackberry that when in Minnesota dies to the ground each year and sends up canes that fruit. So perhaps they adapt?

Mr Doyle has also reported the same… that customers of his berries in very cold climates are seeing the same thing at times.

Talking to a guy in Fairbanks Alaska that is growing Oregon trailing blackberries he covers his with straw but still gets fruit.

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All that think all the polar ice is going to melt and disappear should keep pushing zones…so they’ll be ready to raise pineapples in Minnesota
once it happens.


That’s not how global warming works. Average global temps are rising but that is quite minor.
The polar caps become more unsteady and move around making formerly temperate regions extreme. Both hot and cold.


I’ll consider all opinions, but you make it sound like you are sure about

I don’t share your opinion on it.

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Down to 14F. But all sensitive trees were protected by frost blankets and Christmas lights. No idea if the blossoms survived that. Loquats were highly fragrant yesterday so many open flowers and cold sensitive below 27F.

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I am almost done with zone pushing! No new stuff for me. I was on the tropical fruit forum a couple of weeks ago, one had a Jaboticaba tree for sale, 8’ tall in a container for $1100.00 or best over. I got one only 7 feet tall in a container, i sell it for $400.00 smackers. No one is crazy enough to pick mine up from Arkansas. Might keep it for a couple more years.
I’ll keep my citrus collection and figs too, that sits! No more everything else. All Asian persimmon are inground. They die? So be it, no replacing.
Been zone pushing for over 50 years!!! Nothing but grey hair to show for but a fun trip. From Nafex to the old Garden Web, to The Tropical Fruit Forum, to Houzz, to Fruit Grower, that’s the end!


The jet stream is getting intensely wavier right with increased temperature in the north, pushing the polar air further south and keeping it there longer. (meteorological jet stream map - Google Search)

Also happy about the snow, we hit -34C this morning in zone 3 southern Manitoba. I have some of those bluetooth thermometers hanging on tree branches so I can check the graph over night, useful to monitor. For zone pushing I have a few apple cultivars that are zone 4 grafted low and trained horizontal to stay under the snow, like the Russian melon or arctic stanza. Also have some peaches and blackberries (zn 4-5) pinned down under logs and mulch to keep warm, they survived last winter.


Let’s understand Google is starting from a premise and trying to prove it.

Here’s some facts that counter the Google position:
If giant dips in the polar jet stream are happening more often, due to “increased temperatures in the north”, then consider these statistics over the last 128 years for Orlando Florida.

2001 through 2022 Three times Orlando hit 28 degrees or less.
1981 through 2000 Nine times Orlando hit 28 or less. (Including 19 in 1985).

1961 through 1980 Nine times Orlando hit 28 or less
1941 through 1960 FOUR times Orlando hit 28 or less (some data missing)

1921 through 1940. Nine times Orlando hit 28 or less
1901 through 1920 Eight times Orlando hit 28 or less
1886 through 1900 Five times, including the record of 18 degrees in 1894.

Based on these facts, the opinions of Google don’t hold up…for many times over the years, quite consistently I might add, it has gotten into the 18 to 28 degree range from “polar vortex” or dips in jet stream bringing arctic air south.

Doesn’t seem like a recent phenomenon to me. If you think about it, I think you’ll have to agree the data isn’t there for the case Google makes!


When I want to know the latest in climate science I take in a diet of technical news from articles based on studies and papers in publications like Scientific American, new sites like ARS Technica, Reuters Science, and many good youtube channels that cover recent data. For this topic and many others, you can take a deep dive into interesting stuff like how models predict the jet stream changes from loss of arctic sea. has some good info. Actually reading some papers is usually eye opening, meaning the more I learn on a topic the more I realize the breadth and scope is wider than imagined, working to avoid falling into the dunning kruger effect. Also it was -38F here a couple weeks ago, Orlando weather sounds nice except for the hurricanes.


?SkepticalScience…yep, I’m skeptical, for it’s guessing and not science.

It’s like the gal that authored a story about plastic drinking straws…and all the major restaurants changed to paper. (For a spell anyhooo).

Scientists can’t get their thesis published if they try to go against the current trend.
(And corporations change behavior rather than deal all the bad fascbuk or tooter negative publicity.)

It’s not because of the science.


Life is short! I’m gonna keep growing plants and pushing the limits of my zone.

After a tough summer, I’m really curious to see what wakes up this spring and what doesn’t.


Zone maps are meant to be an average of extremes, but now it appears we may be moving into a future where those extremes are getting more dramatic and unpredictable. In other words not only the zone pushing will be a gamble, but even what has been taken as safe may become challenging. I’m getting around to the idea of gardening in a greenhouse just to handle the weather.


Not directly on topic, but related to the topic…

In my day job, I spend a fair bit of time looking at the ASHRAE data for climate extremes to ensure that data centers (in my case) are built to the right standards for their local climate. ASHRAE, a professional society for HVAC professionals, publishes data on climate conditions and climate extremes looking back over the past 20 years and their data is what determines, for example, how to size your furnace or boiler or air conditioning system in your location. As far as I’m aware, they’re just publishing this data so professionals can ensure that buildings are properly conditioned and aren’t really focused on global warming per se.

In my day job, we tend to focus on the n=20 extreme conditions data which shows that the likely worst case scenario (cold or hot) has been over the past 20 years. This is published by ASHRAE every four years and the latest data for 2021 got published sometime this year.

What’s interesting to me is that, if you assume USDA zone ranges are based on ASHRAE n=20 extreme cold data – that’s what I understand the USDA zones to be derived from – my area has moved from being basically Zone 4 when I moved here in 2009 to basically Zone 6 in the 2021 data. (I still mostly plant assuming Zone 4 as I’m on the top of a mountain and exposed to cold northern winds, but the data was certainly interesting…)

(Curiously, the n=20 extreme hot temperatures for my area haven’t moved much, but the number of cooling degree days – basically an indication of how much air conditioning you will use – increased sharply. That means fewer extreme hots, but generally hotter temperatures across the board without hitting extremes.)

If you want to look up your location, here’s their data web site:

For the Christmas storm, we were at 55F here with heavy rain in the middle of New Hampshire when Atlanta was at 10F. So far, this winter has been much warmer than normal for us. But a few hundred miles to the west looks completely different…

— Erikas


Not exactly, but a similar idea. USDA growing zones (as of the most recent update in 2012) take the coldest annual temperature each year over the last 30 years, and just do an average (mean) of those 30 numbers. Then your zone is based on where that average lowest temperature falls.

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