I am always amazed at the deceitfulness of people who sell plants through catalogs and greenhouses. It is easy to be fooled into buying plants that just won’t work in your climate zone if you don’t know your flora. The most recent scam up here is the marketing of hydrangea macrophllya, a group of hydrangeas that just won’t grow here but are probably the prettiest ones for stunning shades of pink and blue. They are tempting, but it is just too cold here, and unless you are prepared to mulch pretty heavily in the winter, they just won’t do much after the first year. We have tremendous luck with hydrangea arborescens (the big, white, poofy ones) and hydrangea paniculata (ones with pointy flowers that often turn pink at the end of summer).
Hybrid tea roses were marketed for years as good to zone 4, but now are sold with the disclaimer that they are only good to zone 5. They really only do well here if you cap them with rose cones in the fall and mulch heavily. We used to have lots of tea roses, but we got pretty tired of all the fuss. We planted Morden roses from Manitoba instead. They are very cold hardy. We have a few hybrid teas in the yard that do well since we seem to have created a micro-climate in the yard with shrubs and fences that keeps temperatures a little warmer than in other parts of the yard. The pictures below show a hybrid tea we never cap or mulch that comes back every year and is a really stunner.
A couple of years ago we bought two Morden roses that were supposed to be only four feet tall at the most. One turned out to be a climbing rose that had multiple, six foot long branches. It was not labeled as a climbing rose. It was in a part of the yard that wouldn’t have supported a trellis, so it flopped around and got tangled in everything around it. It mercifully died last winter so we dug it up, providing room for one nearby that we assumed was a four feet tall rose as it had been labeled. As you can see in the next photo, it, too, is starting to act like something else.
It is a little hard to see, but the rose put out a couple of stems that were at least seven feet tall. Husband cut them off after I took the photo. I hope this was just a fluke. I just don’t know who in the plant world to trust anymore.
Who do you trust? When have you had something that didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? When has a plant fooled you?