University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Wendy's Wanderings

August 5, 2015

I have often joked with new Master Gardener classes that the MG program is a support group for plant addicts. We love trying new plants and seeing what boundaries we can push with them. I find myself going to the nursery just to see what is new to try. On a recent visit to a nursery in St. Johns County I bought a plant that is meant for zone 9B and I live in 8B. I guess like many gardeners I have "zone envy."

The Urban Dictionary defines zone envy as, "envy experienced by gardeners who upon visiting gardens in climates other than their own, wish they could grow plants they can't."

As Master Gardeners you owe it to yourself and clients to try new plants (for your zone or not). Your landscape becomes a mini trial garden and you can share with fellow gardeners what works for you and what failed wonderfully. Keep good records and give it at least two years of trying before you say if it thrives or not.

I would have never learned about the highly productive 'Sweet Success' cucumber, or have tried the wonderful native plant Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica) if Master Gardeners hadn't given me the confidence to try them.

Your plant choices impact what the people around you grow. Model good choices by not growing invasive exotic plants (check the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants if you're not sure). Then remember the words of J.C. Raulston: "If you are not killing plants you are not really stretching yourself as a gardener."

-- Wendy Wilber

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