A couple of weeks ago, I was shopping for foundation plantings, and I was completely taken in by Encore Azaleas – those lovely azaleas that bloom two (and sometimes three) times a year. In the back of my mind, I had a fuzzy memory of Encore Azaleas not being completely winter hardy in my area, but they were so gorgeous that I bought seven of them and went home to learn more.
This week’s article is about Hardiness and Heat Zones – those handy little numbers that help us decide if a plant will survive the winter cold, or the summer heat, in our area. I pored over the hardiness zone maps, not quite trusting the pocket of Zone 7 that seemed out of place in the middle of Zone 6. I consulted the Encore Azalea web site. I consulted online gardening forums. I read obscure user-submitted lists of plants that grow here. I worried for several days, and I finally gathered enough evidence that yes, Encore Azaleas are hardy in my zone. So I planted them, and I forbade myself from worrying about it any more.
As I was watering them, I got a phone call from a Master Gardener friend who lives on the coast. I told her what I was doing, and she said doubtfully, “Will those survive the winter up there?” Sigh.
I decided that they were pretty enough to take my chances.