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Gullible & Being Mislead

Let me say it again, and for the umpteenth time -- Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula') IS NOT hardy in central Indiana or most of the Midwest. So why do we keep seeing it offered at garden centers? (1) The owners/buyers at the garden centers either do not know (but they should), or (2) they are trying to let the overwhelming allure of the plant keep you from making a wise (informed) decision, and to profit from your mistake. (3) Layer on the fact that most of us are gullible and have a faulty mindset regarding reality. Denialism. It is my idea [I want it] so it must be a good idea), thus we pay the price. And a steep price it is. Specimens can be $200 or more. That is a lot to dole out for what is here a likely woody annual. I understand the lust. This true cedar is an absolutely spectacular plant! There are breathtaking large specimens in Washington DC and Washington State and other locations much farther south, but we do not live there. We live in Indiana, and the plant IS NOT reliably winter hardy here -- certainly not in the Indianapolis area, although climate change may temporarily alter that. The solution to having this beauty here: take a pic and use it as a screensaver image, or consider moving to where the plant is reliably hardy.

As I clearly state in my book and at all my public presentations, it is the climatic extremes not the average that play havoc with our outside companions, both native and introduced. So long as the maximum winter low temperature stays above -10˚F your Atlas Cedar specimen will probably stay blue (i.e., not perish). Unfortunately, 1/4 of the last 50 years in central Indiana we have had a maximum low of greater than -10, including several years below -20. It only need happen once. Moreover, there are other factors in play. (See my ALMANAC) If your specimen is stressed (e.g., recently planted and thus not established) or in soil that does drain well, it is even more vulnerable. True, you might be lucky and get a few years out of your specimen, but then again . . . . All the planted individuals I knew about in the greater Indianapolis area were killed by the terrible winter of 2014. Some of the plants were purchased as larger specimens (4-inch caliber). In one instance special heating elements had been placed in the ground in an attempt to prevent damage. Not only was this foolish and expensive, it did NOT work.

In Chapter 12 of my Rantings book I have a list of woody plants susceptible to winterburn or dieback in central Indiana. You should be cautious and usually avoid these marginals. If you are interested in a reliably hardy cedar (the genus Cedrus) for Indiana I recommend 'Karl Fuchs' a cultivar of Himalayan Cedar (C. deodara). It is a wonderful tree. Additionally, very rarely you will encounter a specimen of the magnificent Cedar of Lebanon (C. libani) -- almost always on the property of a hardcore conifer aficionado. I recall a couple of impressive specimens of C. libani var. stenocoma ('Purdue Hardy') on the West Lafayette campus. Old specimens have a massive trunk. Both species are gorgeous, somewhat to very blue and can get big. They are trees and CANNOT be kept small by pruning.


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