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  Temperature requirements for Helicodiceros
From: "Tony Avent" <tony at plantdelights.com> on 2010.01.31 at 15:46:31(20533)

As often happens, gardeners seem to have greatly underestimated the winter
hardiness of both Dracunculus vulgaris and Helicodiceros. Our former
research horticulturist Petra Schmidt brought clones of Dracunculus here
from her previous home in St. Louis, where she had grown them for many
years, so Zone 6b would certainly be fine and probably colder. We have had
numerous calls from Zone 6 areas of Tennessee over the years where
Dracunculus vulgaris grew fine. Helicodiceros have also been fine here for
more than a decade surviving temps to at least 6 degrees F with no mulch.
As with many plants from warm climates, they need good summer heat to
produce an adequate amount of sugars to fully develop their potential winter
hardiness. We are predicted to drop near 10 F tonight (we hit 9F last
winter) and a number of our helicodiceros are already up and growing, so we
may get some burned foliage, but the plants should be fine.

Tony Avent

From: Steve Marak <samarak at gizmoworks.com> on 2010.01.31 at 18:09:54(20534)
I'll second Tony's comments on Dracunculus vulgaris. It's been grown here
in NW Arkansas for at least 100 years now, 25 of those by me, and we were
(up until the last 10 years or so) a solid USDA zone 6. Some strains
appear to be more cold hardy than others, as these plants have also
survived at the Denver BG (USDA zone 5) for some years now, where other
strains did not. (Of course, "hardy in Denver" is a standing joke in some
horticultural circles - despite their colder temperatures, Denverites can
grow many things I can't.) Dracunculus will no doubt send up leaves here
in the next 3 or 4 weeks, and they will be subjected to several hard
frosts but will not be damaged unless the temperatures get below about -8
or -9 C (16-17 F).

I've been unable to grow Helicodiceros outdoors here, and have now killed
it more than Tony's requisite three times but will probably kill again,
because I know of someone who has kept it alive in Kansas City - about 320
km (200 miles) north of me, and therefore generally a little colder but
otherwise similar - for several years.


From: "Daniel Devor" <plantguy at zoominternet.net> on 2010.02.01 at 12:36:14(20538)
Hi Tony,

I'm sure you are right, but Helicodiceros can not survive in zone 6 garden
when it hits -20C.....that is how some perished after I goot tired of seein g
them do nothing inside my home for a few years. I've never tried a
Dracunculus vulgaris. If I could find one with exceptional white on the
leaves a a striking petiole I might put one in the ground, but the standard
ones you see "everywhere" just aren't exciting enough to try.

May is only a few months away now and then the plants can go back outside
with some protection from the late season frosts.....can't wait :o)


From: michael kolaczewski <mjkolaffhbc at sbcglobal.net> on 2010.02.02 at 05:32:19(20542)
Greetings forum members,

As Mr. Advent has posted,( and Others) Dracunculus vulgaris is often more hardy

than expected. As for myself, I have been able to grow this plant Here in Chicago for a number

of years. It will do very well in the gardens near Lake Michigan, in an area known

as Chicago's North Shore Suburbs. ( Near the Chicago Botanic Gardens).

These suburbs that lie along the coast line of the lake, receive a moderating effect

from Lake Michigan. In some cases, the winter temperatures have resembled USDA Zone 6.

I am 40 miles Northwest of Downtown Chicago, solid Zone 5 (B), and Dracunculus will grow here

as well.

Drainage, soil amendment, and mulching, all will improve not only growing conditions

throughout spring and summer, but will improve in ground winter survival.

Arum italicum grows in the ground here year after year, as well as Sauromatum venosum.

One of the "problems" we have around here, with growing conditions in gardens, is rainy fall weather.

This can result is saturated / over saturated soils. Then follows the annual winter freezing,

which can cause the frost line to penetrate below ground to nearly 4 feet deep (or deeper) .

The occasional mid winter thaw,and refreeze don't help. The prolonged winters

and sometimes late Springs, can be challenging to plant structures, both above

and below the soil line.

Michael Kolaczewski



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