Houzz Logo Print

Omnibus 2018 winter damage report for the mid-Atlantic region

davidrt28 (zone 7)
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

Omnibus means anyone in this region can and should participate. We will use the broad, not strict, regional definition. Of course people from other regions can and should provide feedback! But I think for the sake of organization, reports for other regions should go in other threads, unless you're merely commenting about a single plant. (i.e., "Azara sometimes dies in the PNW")

As always, discussion by me of growing any rare plant is not an recommendation or endorsement of growing that plant in any area or under any circumstances. The surgeon general has determined that experimental gardening and zone pushing can be hazardous to your health. You have been warned!

Ok, so...big theme here is that I'm glad I waited because more and more damage is becoming apparent. A statistician who does not grow plants might look at the numbers and say, 'well, there's no way it could have been as bad as the polar vortex winters of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015." On average, it was merely an AVERAGE winter. BUT...I now think it was just about as bad as those winters. The issue is a lot of stuff that would have been killed or injured in a collector's garden, was already killed or injured and might not have been replanted. And though the cold spell was brief, it was the coldest first week of January EVER in Baltimore. Ever is a powerful word! Furthermore, I should have known there was the potential for disaster, because we were coming into winter after a very bad fall season that left various plants in a not-complete state of dormancy. So I kick myself for not protecting a couple not doing so, such is the "science" of this hobby advanced LOL. There were a couple POSITIVE surprises, though obviously more negative ones!

I'm going to do a basic rundown, and then add a detailed discussion of certain plants with pictures. Absolute low was right around 0F, maybe a degree higher in the warmer parts of the garden, a degree lower in the frost hollow. Double quotes indicate a non-standard nomenclature.

Survived without substantial injury:

Any sun protected, established camellias

Various rare hollies with the exception of I. vomitoria cultivars

All fully established rhododendrons but a couple

deciduous trees and shrubs including some only zone 7 ones like Hibiscus paramutabilis and the Chinese MCXBCs.

Alstroemeria ‘Third Harmonic’ and others

Nolina erumpens

Cunninghamia plain green

Agave gracilipes

Mahonia 'Buckland'

Significant injury but definitely still alive:

Camellia sinensis, spring 2017 planted

Gardenia 'Griff's Select', 'Frostproof' and 'Kleim's Hardy'

Arbutus 'Elfin King'

Ilex vomitoria cultivars

Redwood cultivars

Taiwania "flousiana form"

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' of commerce

Rhododendron 'Broughtonii' bought for use as a rootstock

"Podocarpus chinensis" of commerce

Rhododendron TT240 (discussion forthcoming)

Erica 'Edelwecht Blush', a European X South African hybrid

Chusquea gigantea - coming back from roots, a nice surprise, but I guess it will never get gigantic here LOL

Phormium "Lake Te Anu collection from Cistus". Had 2 of these, one died a couple summers ago from root rot in a wetter spot...proof they they are always going to be exceedingly tricky in our climate. As one would expect!

Severe injury, jury still out on survival:

Erica 'Kramer's Rote' in a difficult spot...sailed through PV-I and PV-II w/o difficulty, snow cover was the difference!


Eucalyptus parvula

Grevillea 'Poorinda Leane'

Myrtus communis 'Van Hardy'

Cistus 'Ledon'

Agave lechuguilla

Melicytus (hymenanthera) crassifolius

Pittosporum heterophyllum

Rhododendron 'Cloudburst' and a couple others not fully established

Definitely dead:

Rhododendron 'Choremia' not fully established

Azara microphylla not fully established

many rare zone 7 rhizomatous forbs, succulents and geophytes (discussion forthcoming)

Nolina microcarpa, did not have overstory protection that N. erumpens did

south American Cassia species unknown

Lessertia montana and frutescens (was hoping to cross them LOL)

Buddleja salvifolia

Lantana 'Chapel Hill' and 'Mozelle' (I guess they could still surprise me but I doubt it)

I'm forgetting a couple probably but will finish this post for fear something will cause it to be lost. I will add the pictures and additional comments soon.

Comments (32)