What zone am I?

Raise your hand if you're confused about your USDA growing zone. I know I am. Here in St. Louis we've been zone 6 for years -- zone 5 by the old map. These last two winters though...


Well, here's my current source of confusion. Do you recognize this plant -- the one growing up the wall? Let me make it a little easier... if you live in a warm, coastal region, do you recognize this plant?

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If you said "that looks a lot like cape honeysuckle", you've got a good eye! Tecoma capensis it is.


I received a couple of divisions of this from Gerhard at Bamboo, Succulents, and More two years ago. I planted one along my south-facing wall, and put the other in a pot.


That first winter (2011-2012) was very mild here in St. Louis. I wasn't sure how mild until I saw this supposedly zone 9 plant (hardy only to 20ºF or so) return the following spring, after giving it no protection -- I was treating it as an annual!

Looks great with bellflower and white lavender blooms!

Last winter (2012-2013) was more typical for St. Louis, with a handful of single-digit (F) nights, and several days where highs never got above 20ºF. Maybe a little on the mild side, but mild-typical, not mild-mild. Know what I mean?


Imagine my surprise then when I gave the woody stem of this plant the thumbnail scratch test at the end of winter, and saw green tissue under the bark!

Okay, yes, this is planted along a south-facing wall, so you're assuming the winter sun crates a nice microclimate here. The thing is, during winter this wall is in shade almost all of the time -- the lower sun angle puts this in the shadow of my neighbor's house.


I'm excited that this vine may actually reach the top of the trellis this year, and I'll finally have something that can take the heat of this spot and look good all summer -- I haven't found an annual vine that can cut it here yet. (I have to tie the stems to the trellis, as they don't twine, but will stick to walls -- I don't want it on my wall though.)

I still have the potted plant:


I also have a plant popping up where a root from the potted plant got under the patio pavers:


So a zone 9 plant survives for me in not one but two spots in my garden.

What zone am I?


Do you have any zone-ignoring plants in your garden?

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Gerhard Bock (Bamboo, Succulents and More)  – (June 5, 2013 at 8:00 PM)  

LOL, see what I mean? You cannot kill it. I've been trying to get rid of ours for over 10 years now but I still pops up here and there. I hope it'll bloom for you. It's spectacular.

Steve Lau  – (June 5, 2013 at 10:10 PM)  

I think you are far enough south so that you may only get a true zone 6 winter maybe once a decade.

Anonymous –   – (June 6, 2013 at 12:51 PM)  

Cool Alan!
I had black elephant ears survive in pots sitting on my deck all winter in 7b (and not up against the house either).
Also, bambusa textilis in the ground starting to really look nice!
Hope your winters stay as mild as they can.
-jeremy

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