South American plants for Vancouver

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Deneb1978, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Hey all,
    I was looking at planting some South American plants in my Vancouver yard. I know Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana) and Gunnera are fairly common around here but I'm looking at some other options. What about Nothofagus species like Nothofagus Betuloides, Nothofagus Antarctica and Nothofagus Pumilio? Any of these would work well in a Vancouver garden?
    What about Maytenus Magellanica, Pilgerodendron uviferum, and Drimys Winteri? Any thoughts about these or other possibilities? I'm interested to hear your feedback.
     
  2. Leland

    Leland Member

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    I've seen Nothofagus antarctica growing well here in Victoria. The others I am not aware of. You could always check out Van Dusan and UBC Botanical gardens for S. American species that they are growing. I'm sure there are many. I seem to remember a section in he alpine garden at UBC with some, maybe even many.
     
  3. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I have attached a list of most of the plants that are grown in the South American section of the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden at UBCBG. The year is the date planted, an asterisk signifies that the plant was propagated from an existing plant in the garden. Although we do have a Drimys winteri, it was planted last year and I am dubious of it surviving winters for too long.

    Azara microphylla does very well in the garden, that is certainly worth planting--evergreen with fragrant flowers in late winter.
     

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  4. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    I'm surprised that you say Drimys Winteri won't last very long. It says that specimens from the southern end of its range can tolerate -20C. We certainly don't get that cold in Vancouver. It looks like they get many more frost days in Tierra del Fuego than Vancouver. According to the weather stats, Ushuaia gets 122 frost days and Punta Arenas gets 82 frost days, far more than the 46 frost days we get in a typical year in Vancouver. Ushuaia has also recorded frost in all months of the year.
     
  5. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Don't be too surprised, I don't really know much about the plant. I had just heard that they do not grow so well here.

    I just spoke with the curator of the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden. He said that plants have always died in the garden in winter temps below -12 °C, which we get every so many years (probably this coming winter judging from the forecasts.)

    It would probably be helpful to source plants with provenance from the coldest parts of its range.
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'd suspect Drimys winteri may be at more risk from summer drought than winter cold; it is a temperate rainforest plant more suited to e.g. the west coast of Vancouver Island than the city. Best origins for Vancouver would more likely be at high altitude from the northeastern end of its range, where it gets some summer drought but still high enough to get cold in winter. These origins are the ones that do best in Britain.
     
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    You can probably also look at the Northern SA paramo plants. Polylepis incana, if you can get it growing at your low altitude, is a really neat tree. The high-altitude palms, like Parajubea, would likely also work for you.
     
  8. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Interesting ideas....although I don't think the Northern SA paramo plants would work here because there is too much seasonal variation and some days are subfreezing here which never happens at high altitude tropical climates.

    Would the drought be much of a problem for Drimys Winteri and other Magellanic Subpolar Forest plants if I watered it regularly in summer? I figured since Tierra del Fuego in every respect is a colder climate than Vancouver, the plants from there would not have much of a problem with our winters here as it seems to be the main limiting factor to growing plants from the southern hemisphere in this part of the world. Also, it seems some parts of Tierra del Fuego have somewhat of a drier climate depending where it is. Ushuaia for example gets 30mm of rain in its driest month which is comparable to Vancouver's 40mm even if Vancouver's winters are more than twice as wet.
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Tell me again how subfreezing never happens in the paramos here in the North - last time I was up in the Quijos (a Polylepis forest), we had hard frosts and snow that sustained for about 5 days....
     
  10. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Really? I'm surprised. I figured that the highland tropical climates of South America have high diurnal ranges of temperature which is something we don't get here (i.e. warm days and frosty nights most nights). Have you ever had a day where the entire day the temperature never rose above freezing? That happens here virtually every winter without fail here for at least a week or more straight and I am not sure if plants from the paramo would be able to adapt to that, not to mention the intensely wet winters we get. Isn't the paramo a mostly dry climate?
    I'd love to be able to grow a Parajubaea here and other Polylepis if you think it's possible. I'm just a little doubtful. I would love if you could prove me wrong though :)
     
  11. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Tend to agree with Deneb - the only Polylepis successfully grown long-term in Britain is the southernmost one, P. australis from Argentina. Some others are being tried though.
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    With southern hemisphere plants the main problem when attempting them in the north is an inability to tolerate freezing of the root zone. That's why similar minimum temperatures do not assure success. A plant has to endure weeks of cold that freeze the soil deeply to come through all northern winters.
     
  13. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    If we look at Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia gets more than twice the amount of frost days as Vancouver - 122 versus 46 for Vancouver plus they get frost in all months of the year which Vancouver does not get. I think if you tried to do the reverse and plant a native plant from Vancouver in Ushuaia, the plant would be completely stressed out and likely not survive in the long run with cold temperatures year round and unrelenting wind. That's why I think plants from this region would do fine in Vancouver and the environmental conditions that they would have to face would not be nearly as severe.
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Introductions and testing have long been done already. Sure, here and there will be potential collection sites that may yield new hardier introductions or re-introductions. But you can only go so far with basing horticultural performance predictions on wild habitats. Looking at minimum temperatures only or any other single variable is not likely to be enough.

    I've read that when the Center for Urban Horticulture (Seattle) brought back some wild collected Hebe species from southern South America one of the most hardy ones grew near sea level. A montane kind did not hold up as well.
     
  15. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    There are a number of paramo types; the plants I reccomended come from wet ones, which have a very similar climate to Vancouver (just waaay higher up). I have been in the paramo on several occasions where it never got warmer than -5 C all day, then got colder at night - at that altitude, without direct sunshine it doesn't warm up at all.

    I suppose what I'd say is give Parajubea at least a shot! You may have to overwinter it indoors until it's large enough to withstand the winters, but I'm reasonably confident that you'd be able to make it go.
     
  16. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Cool... maybe will have to give it a try.. I didn't realize that parts of the paramo stayed so cold for so long... so maybe there is hope?
     
  17. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Interesting... but I'm not just talking about one climate variable here. I'm talking about the overall climate. In every possible temperature climate variable, Vancouver is warmer than Ushuaia hands down. You can look at extreme minimum temperature, you can look total number of frost days, you can look at yearly average temperature, you can look at number of days where the temperature never goes above freezing, you can look at winter average minimum temperatures, you can look at winter average maximum temperatures, you can look at summer average temperatures. It doesn't matter. Vancouver is still warmer than Ushuaia. The only possible thing that plants from Tierra del Fuego might have a problem with in Vancouver is the winter wetness depending on what part of the island it's from (Ushuaia is drier than Vancouver).
     
  18. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Deneb, a useful tool for you might be the Koppen-Geiger Climate Systematics - check the colour zone that Vancouver is in, then look for plants from the same or similar zones in South America.
     
  19. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    A Chilean display is being made at the south entrance to the arboretum down here.

    http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/gardens/wpa/pacific_connections.shtml

    As you can see from the painting, it's apparently thought it will be possible to develop a grove of feather palms. So, even when quite a bit of public money and knowledge from various sources may be involved previously established counter-indications can be overlooked, ignored or dismissed.

    They have been wrapping and covering parts of the New Zealand section during the winter. Maybe they plan to cover the Chilean palms also. I've seen at least one in place already, just in time for what is expected to be a cold and wet winter.

    Seattle tree expert and garden writer A.L. Jacobson grew a Chilean wine palm in his seemingly rather favorably situated garden for some years, because, of course it ought to grow here.

    It eventually froze and died.
     
  20. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    I know I'm not from the PNW, or have any experience gardening there, but I'm pretty sure I had heard reports that Parajubea is being grown in the Gulf Islands of B.C. Can't say the success rate, though.
     
  21. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Interesting idea about the Chilean display, although I don't think the Chilean Wine Palm is the best choice as one of the keystone species as it's marginal in all but the mildest areas of the PNW. This is because the Chilean Wine Palm is native to much further north in Chile than Tierra del Fuego. In fact, the native environment of the Chilean Wine Palm is much more like Northern California. Hence, why it will typically freeze out every 5-10 years here. If they planted species native to further south in Chile such as those from Tierra del Fuego and the adjoining mainland, they would most likely last for much longer and be more cost effective to the garden.
     
  22. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Deneb, I've been turning this over in my head for a while. Have you considered Espeletia spp? You want to talk about hardy plants - those are the ones that grow above the snowline.
     
  23. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I got a postcard announcing a Gateway to Chile Opening Celebration there Oct. 17 1-4 PM. Ribbon-cutting, Chilean music, Chilean folk dance troupe, refreshments. Foundation members get a free lecture Plants in the Gateway to Chile. Presumably visitors viewing it at other times will find interpretive signs and/or labeling.

    Chilean bed is part of larger Pacific Connections section.
     
  24. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    No, I don't even know anything about them. If they grow above the snowline.. there is definitely some potential hardiness for sure. Although, several species of alpine plants have not always done as well here as there are other factors in addition to temperature.. air pressure, humidity etc. But, if I could get a Espeletia.. it could again be worth a try.
     
  25. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Sounds great.. will try and head down to the arboretum in the next while to check it out.
     

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