All Things Gardening forum: What's your biggest challenge/complaint about gardening in your zone?

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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
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gemini_sage
Nov 27, 2014 9:31 AM CST
Browsing 2015 offerings of various plant vendors on line, I've been considering new plants to try, and the accompanying laments about the plants I find so stunning, that won't grow here at all. The Lupines, the Delphiniums, so many Rose cultivars, Ranunculus, tuberous Begonias; the list goes on and on. Here in central Kentucky, the weather is such a roll of the dice. Winter can be long and cold, may or may not be snowy, or could be quite mild, but is likely to be some combination thereof. Spring comes eventually, but we really never know when. In 2013 Daffodils were in full bloom in February, in 2014 peak bloom was mid to late April. Terms like "Dogwood winter", "Blackberry winter", and "Indian summer" are common around here, as winter is known to commonly revisit during those bloom times. Once spring truly arrives, this is a truly beautiful region, horticulturally speaking, and many garden plants thrive. However, just like spring, the arrival of summer is very random, as are summer weather conditions any given year. Some years, mild spring temps give way to summer heat at the end of May, while other years, mild weather persists until July. Summer drought is not uncommon here, but we see the occasional wet summer too. Sometimes hot, humid, and wet, with all the fungal diseases that come along with those conditions, or sometimes cool and moist, and the accompanying rot issues. And both of those are better than the all too common, dry, thirsty summer, when it's a struggle to provide enough water for survival.

And even with the challenges, I still do it, and still love it. Gardening always presents unique challenges to the gardener, and dealing with them is rewarding and part of the enjoyment. Gripes aside, I'm very thankful for all the good conditions offered here. Rich, well drained, moisture retentive, clay-loam soil, that is full of earthworms, a fairly long growing season, reliable sun, and supportive of a diverse array of flora- I really can't complain, LOL.

What gives you zone envy? What's the toughest part about gardening in your area? What do you want to grow, that refuses to thrive in your climate?
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Nov 27, 2014 9:47 AM CST
No zone envy here. Sure there are stunning plants that we can't grow but why even try with all the beauty we can grow? I'm sure every area has cool or warm springs, rainy summers or those in drought, steamy summers or very pleasant ones, but that's all part of gardening. Some days we can look at our gardens and wonder if our brains were in storage when we designed and planted them but then there are the days when our own gardens take our breath away and we do tend to enjoy those days immensely, as we should.

We have great soil, and we're in the sunniest town in all of New York (hence all the vineyards), so I'm quite content.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Nov 27, 2014 12:09 PM CST
Toughest part in gardening in our area is our 6 month long or longer dry spell. And with the ongoing drought I have to choose drought tolerant plants or avoid water hungry plants. In my garden itself, I only get about 4 hours direct sun, so it is hard to grow flowering plants that needs about 8 hours direct sun. But I found out I can grow some temperate orchids woohoo! So it alleviates my craving for flowers. Or my one and only calamondin tree grows scented blooms before fruiting..so it is a bonus for me!

Thankfully there is a huge selection of succulents I can grow..that is how I started and even among the succulents it is a learning curve, finding out which ones can take direct sun, and finding out more which ones likes just warm ambient surrounding and not the intense heat we get during summer. And some succulents have blooms too, some more actively blooming during our mild winter conditions so it adds much needed color during the doldrums of winter. Finding out which ones among them are summer dormant and which ones are winter dormant is an ongoing process as I get to know different varieties, just have to be more observant about it and not assume that just because they are succulents, that they all actively grow in summer.

I have learned to choose which plants to grow. I am finally understanding too that in summer, I should not expect much blooming in the current plants I have, it is just too hot & stressful for them. I get the blooms in Spring when it is cool going to warm...and in Fall when from warm slowly cooling down, and we start to get the much needed rains in late Fall to winter. Accepting the fact that in winter, most plants are in slow down, or dormant, is something I have learned eventually, unless I try to hide them indoors to keep them going. I count the blessing of our mild winters here, so it is not totally brown and dead looking around us, especially my succulents, they stay green and some with blooms.
Name: Sheridragonfly/Sheri
Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Sheridragonfly
Nov 27, 2014 4:23 PM CST
humidity...
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Nov 27, 2014 11:25 PM CST
For me the biggest challenge has been learning to use the longer growing season. I am used to gardening in the northeast and putting the garden 'to sleep' for the winter. Here in Savannah it seems we should be planting all the time.

The hot sun was a problem for a while until I learned to utilize a lightweight beach umbrella and sit under the shade it provided. Work smarter, not harder! Thumbs up

Of course, all that was before the neighbors let the pet rabbits go, so my next challenge will be adequate fencing and much taller pots for the container garden area.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Nov 28, 2014 6:20 AM CST
tarev, that would indeed be tough! Drought years have been very discouraging for me in the past.

greene, moving to a new gardening zone is quite the adjustment! When I last moved, it was only 45 miles from the old place, but the conditions are vastly different. It took a few years to adapt, from shade gardening in a woodland setting, to a sunny, exposed, farm setting.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Nov 28, 2014 11:56 AM CST
Winter!
Case in point:
just saw this pic uploaded

oooh-aaah, what is that? never heard of it before...have to check it out...and learn of yet another plant that I won't ever be growing here Hilarious!
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
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Kabby
Nov 28, 2014 9:55 PM CST
Biggest complaint is weeds. Horsetail rush, nutgrass, goldenrod. I can do my spring cleanup of removing old foliage, weed, Preen, then mulch. By the time I finish my last bed, it's time to start over. It doesn't leave much time to plant new plants and admire what is growing. I have tried a new( to me) product called Sedgehammer for the nutgrass and it did remarkably well. Preen does help also.
I have zone envy for plumeria and Rojo banana trees. I' d gotten to the point where I was tired of bringing them inside during the winter and decided to let them go. Very happy to grow hedychium gingers, cannas, crinum with no problem, no mulch, no mollycoddlin, no digging for winter. I like my 8a!
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
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NEILMUIR1
Nov 29, 2014 1:18 AM CST
As we are but a small island that is the UK, I don't have any real complaints about the climate as we can grow most things. The zone system does not work at all. How can some of the Scottish islands be classified as the same as some of your American cities? The Scottish islands have no trees and are battered by the Atlantic in winter.
Main problems are Digitalis or foxgloves as they grow everywhere and are a pest! Fraxinius or ash trees, they too are a problem. Horseradish as it grows and grows and spreads. As much as I like horseradish with my roast beef, I don't appreciate it everywhere. Salix species or willows another nuisance. Dog roses, oh my, these and blackberries get in all places.
Bindweed or Convolvulus, that tends to get a grip anywhere it can.
Grey American squirrels! Luckily these are under law a serious pest so can be dealt with. Deer the second most destructive thing after man. They too can be dealt with.
The most annoying thing is due to our inclement weather, are dog owners. Instead of taking their dogs to the parks, which are all over here, they simply walk them around the block without a lead. Then let them foul anywhere. Although against the law, they take no notice at all. So to do any gardening at all. you have to clean that mess up first! Plus on the pavements, for children to walk in. Absolutely disgusting.
Regards from a rather damp England.
Neil.
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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jmorth
Nov 29, 2014 3:18 AM CST
I like exotic blooms in containers usually 50 or so. Problem is they often need protection in the winter as a large proportion are rated for zones warmer than here. To preserve these containers in question it is necessary to first move them to the garage w/out water that the foliage dies and can be cleaned off; next step invokes moving them to the basement before frosty temps become norm There they overwinter winter dry in their pots or are paced under fluorescent lights to survive through the winter. Moving problems seem to exacerbate as the years move on, where once I could successfully man-handle them down into the basement, I now find it wise to employ a moving cart to transfer the largest ones (and many are quite large) to their winter lodging.

However, when it's all said and done and they've resumed their summer places outside for a new season, my pride runnith over.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
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JuneOntario
Nov 29, 2014 9:16 AM CST
Oh, how I would love to grow broad-leaved evergreen shrubs and trees! Evergreen hollies, magnolias, viburnums, rhododendrons, etc., are my dream! However, the reality is that they would die during the winter when the ground freezes and the cold wind blows. Sighing!
Name: Susie
Leonard, Minnesota (Zone 3b)
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4susiesjoy
Nov 29, 2014 10:10 AM CST
My biggest challenge in zone three is probably pretty obvious. It's trying to get everything done in such a short time frame between frosts/cold weather. I clean up as much as I get time for in the fall, before the ground freezes but I also have to mulch everything, so I usually have to do most of the cleanup in the spring. I try to move things around, plant any new perennials, and dig some things and pot them up for a spring plant sale that I have whenever time allows.
Right away in spring the vegetable gardens have to be made ready and cooler weather things planted but it's always pretty iffy to plant the warm weather plants before June first. Then the planting of flowers and summer bulbs and re-mulching where you planted them. Then the planting of whatever containers you're doing. Meantime you have to be keeping all this watered, if it doesn't rain, while your doing your other plantings. Of course there is always weeding and deadheading and taking care of the vegetables as they ripen.
Then there is the taking of cuttings for things in the fall and digging and storing the summer bulbs. All of this has to be done in about four months take a week or so. I have a lot of gardens so it does keep me on my toes trying to get everything done!
[Last edited by 4susiesjoy - Nov 29, 2014 10:53 AM (+)]
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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Nov 29, 2014 12:17 PM CST
Considering the challenges of gardening in northern zones, our summer heat and humidity doesn't seem so bad. A good thing about the dual nature of weather here is when it does get hot and muggy, and perennial blooms become sparse, tropicals go into full swing.

June, do you grow Himalayan blue Poppies? They seem like nature's consolation prize to northern gardeners, LOL.

Susie, 'Fast and Furious' came to my mind, when I thought about fitting so much into a limited growing season! LOL
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
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Kabby
Nov 29, 2014 1:26 PM CST
@4susiesjoy girl you made me tired! I'm ready for a nap!
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
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daylilydreams
Nov 29, 2014 1:36 PM CST
Here it is mosquitoes make it difficult to garden dealing with stinging insects takes a lot of enjoyment out of gardening. Makes it hard to weed or anything else outdoors while swatting mosquitoes.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime plant a garden!
Faith is the postage stamp on our prayers!
Betty MN Zone4 AHS member

[Last edited by daylilydreams - Nov 29, 2014 9:01 PM (+)]
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Name: Susie
Leonard, Minnesota (Zone 3b)
Composter Hellebores Garden Art Irises Xeriscape Echinacea
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4susiesjoy
Nov 29, 2014 8:26 PM CST
Neal fast and furious just about covers it! Blinking

@Kabby I'm usually ready for a nap and some rest by the time everything is frozen. nodding
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Nov 30, 2014 6:54 AM CST
I have zone envy for all the gardeners who get more than 3 months of daylily blooms, but other than that I really don't mind our zone 6b garden.

I hate poison ivy and it seems I fight it every year in various spots in the garden. I know birds can carry and drop the seeds, so that is probably what is happening. I would love to do more shade gardening, but poison ivy seems to thrive more under my oak tree. I've been tempted to just do away with all the plants under the tree.
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Nov 30, 2014 8:29 AM CST
When spring arrives, and you have new leaves on that Poison Ivy, spray it with Ortho's Poison Ivy and Tough Brush Killer. Just use a small spray bottle and cover all desirable plants. If done on new leaves, on a warm day (over 60 degrees), when no rain is in the forecast for the next 12 hours, it will work. If you do not wish to use sprays then keep cutting the emerging stem below the ground - stick your strong scissors through the soil and cut.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
Nov 30, 2014 9:10 AM CST
Someone on the Iris forum suggested using a small paint brush to paint the herbicide on specific leaves if the stuff is growing too close to a treasured plant to use even a small spray bottle.


The heat and drought are the two biggest challenges in this area. I have heavy clay soil that is backbreaking to amend, but that condition plagues a lot of us. Big Grin
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Nov 30, 2014 9:53 AM CST
Our challenge is the warm Chinook winds which blow in periodically over the winter from Oregon.
If a Chinook lasts more than a few days, some plants will think that it is spring, and begin growth.
Only to be frozen by a blast of winter.
A good snow cover and good mulch are necessary to protect the plants so they do not experience spring before winter is done.

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