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The Jean’s Dilly on the left, Pusch Norway Spruce on the right. Time to do a little cleaning up of the miniature garden beds now the the weather has warmed up.

~ Do you buy plants on the Internet?

Are you wondering how you can know for certain what plants you can grow in your area? When you shop at your local, independent garden center, they have already done their homework on what plants will do well in your area. But if you’re shopping online, you need to know just a couple of things, to make sure the plants you are ordering will survive and thrive in your area.

We know as gardeners, we have been trained to look at the cold hardiness of the plant to see if it can survive the winter but, for the warmer States, we need to look at the heat-hardiness of the plant.

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Digging Deeper

A good example: Meet Harold, from Burbank, California. He asked if the Dwarf Alberta Spruces (Picea glauca) can survive in a railroad garden that gets several 100 degree Fahrenheit days in the middle of the summer. So, how do we find that out?

By referencing the American Horticultural Society’s Heat Zone Chart, we find that the heat zones in Burbank (heat zone 8 ) are outside the recommended zones for the Dwarf Alberta Spruce (heat zones 6-1). From this research, we can figure out if he would have better success with a Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies, heat zones 8-1) instead. And yessiree, he will.

Now, because the Norway Spruces are on the edge of the recommended heat zone for Burbank, CA, and we know they like their roots to remain cool and damp, by planting it in part sun and adding a simple mulch each spring,

Now Harold will have a much-easier time maintaining his new miniature garden tree. The roots are kept happy, which will keep the Dwarf Norway Spruces happy, which keeps Harold happy, and everyone is happy! Hope you are too.

But I digress. Happily. :o)

Short Needle Mugo Pine. Pinus mugo 'Short Needle.'
A true miniature Mugo, the Short Needle is hardy – but not heat-hardy enough for Baton Rouge, LA.

Another example is from another miniature gardener from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lori asked whether the Mugo pines (Pinus mugo, heat zones 7-1) would work in her garden. The pines are really tough plants but, referencing the heat zone chart, they are just outside of the Louisiana heat zone 9, and are two-too many zones away to feel safe recommending them. There are just too many hot days in Baton Rouge, LA, for the Mugos to survive – in theory, however.


We have the cold-hardy and the heat-hardy zones in all our plant listings in our online Miniature Garden Center Store!

That said, gardening is a personal and, sometimes, a very arbitrary hobby. What works for one gardener may not work for another in the same area. In each and every State, there are many micro-climates and something as simple as a different garden bed on the shaded side of the house may be just fine for one conifer, but not for another type that isn’t as adaptable.

Another example is Ken who lives in Naples, FL and grows miniature and dwarf spruces in a big boulder that looks like a mountain-scape. His trick is he keeps his “rock garden” in the cool sun in the morning, and in shade all afternoon so the spruces avoid that hot, afternoon sun each day. The roots stay cool and damp. Note that this may have taken some trial and error but, nonetheless, Ken is able to nurture and grow Alberta Spruces in Florida!

More Tips

In the hot states, air-movement is also a factor for the conifers and trees that need to stay cool. If the air can’t get through the branches of the tree, the inside of the tree will stay too moist and eventually rot, damaging the tree. So by spacing out the conifers, or thinning out the shrub a little, the air will be able to move through the tree, help the foliage get air and stay cool.

You can find out more about heat zones in The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants where they have comprehensive listing of (almost) any plant grown in the States today and the heat zones for each plant are within each the individual listing. It is a truly wonderful reference book for the dedicated gardener. Mine lives in my desk drawer, ready for action at the flick of my wrist. I’ve marked off a lot of the plants, full-size and miniature, in the book so I can one place that I can go to remember what’s what.

Online, you can find a more heat zone chart information from their website at: It used to be searchable, but if you are ordering plants from our store, you should find the heat zone information in each miniature garden plant listing.

And as the golden rule suggests, choose right plant for the right place for the best success!

See what we have in our online Miniature Garden Center Store today and check back often, our inventory is always changing!

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