Minnesota is Zone 5? Ha!

Butterfly bush in Buffalo, NY, garden.

Like many Minnesota gardeners, a part of me is secretly rooting for climate change. It’s not that I want the ice caps to melt or the East Coast to go under water, but the thought of USDA Zone 5 plants is enticing. It would be wonderful to be able to grow Japanese maples, lavender, KnockOut® roses, and my personal lust plant, butterfly bush, without having to cross your fingers and hope for a warm winter. The last few winters, while snowy and definitely brisk, haven’t seemed that cold.  Last January, the lowest temperature recorded in Northfield (according to Weatherunderground.com) was -18, which just barely slides us into USDA Zone 5.

According to the local radio station, it was around -30 here last night, which is more like zone 3. So, alas, we are not zone 5.

My fingers are crossed for the butterfly bush planted in the front garden.

9 thoughts on “Minnesota is Zone 5? Ha!

  1. Hi…
    Living here (in NE Wisconsin) we are considered zone 5 by some but I agree with you regarding certain plants. I will not rush out and overload my landscape with zone 5 plants but enjoy the challenge of trying to grow certain favorites. My success with ‘butterfly bush’ is mulch! A wide area around the base, about 4-5″, after the ground freezes. Patience is needed in spring waiting for the first sign of life, usually early June, but it has returned three times! The same holds true for my lavender now going on 5 years. Two years ago I planted a ‘Cornus kousa’ which returned full of life last spring and rewarded me with branches full of flowers. The joys of challenges!

  2. An addition to my comment, ….the mulch is 4-5″ thick and about a 36″ to 40″ diameter circle around the base.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions, Kathy. I heard today (at a Master Gardener training I’m taking) that because of the deep, early snow we have, the ground underneath may not even be frozen now! I’m not sure what that means for the bush, which is thoroughly under the snow, but it will be fun to see in the spring.

  4. I planted a butterfly bush last year, and have been happy for the deep snow cover that is protecting it from the frigid cold. If it survives I will plant another bush or two to add some variety to my cut flower gardens. They should be splendid in the vase!

  5. Here in Wisconsin, we’ve been told we’re creeping into Zone 5, too, but I don’t believe it either. Some years it may work out fine, with warmer temps, but there’s always that chance of a sneaky, rough winter and then the Zone 5 plants can be history, which is heart-breaking. And I can’t grow a butterfly bush either. ;'(

  6. Mary, I’m just about 20 mi. north of you, and grow several zone 5 rated shrub roses. One of them is the Rainbow Knockout rose. I have been happy with it; it has gone through 3 winters, no problem at all. I have several Easy Elegance roses also, from Baileys; one is called ‘Yellow Brick Road’, rated zn 5, and it’s sailed along over 5 years at least. Both of these are very good flowering and no trouble, no work at all. I do not cover any of my roses, not even extra mulch. If you like a Knockout, go for it, I say!

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