Global Warming’s Losers in the Garden


Okay, enough guilty rejoicing about all the plants we can now grow, thanks to our newly balmy winters.  Maybe we can have gardenias and Japanese camelias, but Adrian Higgins reminds us that not all plants like warmer temps and these guys may be doomed here in the Mid-Atlantic:

  • Eastern white pine.  Though native, it’s a mountain plant and not happy in cities, especially hot ones.Easternwhitepine
  • Japanese pieris.  No, say it isn’t so! I’ve christianed pieris the Perfect Evergreen Shrub for Shade and been buying them up like candy corn the day after Halloween.  So I’m worried, though my old ones still look great and I won’t be giving up hope right away.
  • Colorado blue spruce, another upland conifer – bad news in our coastal plain environment.
  • Common lilac, also unhappy in hot climates.  Small hybrids are recommended instead.
  • PJM Rhododendron – a landscape designer’s fave!  Seriously, these have been specially recommended for this area like forever.  Higgins recommends a local grower’s website for heat-loving varieties.
  • Ditto sugar maples.

Then Higgins asked Scott Aker at the National Arboretum for his list of global warming-hating plants:

  • Spreading junipers.
  • American arborvitae.  Instead, Aker recommends the ‘Green Giant’ hybrid, which is good news for yours truly, having recently added 7 to my own garden on the advice of two arborists from whom I mooched free advice.
  • Classic yew varieties, especially when subjected to automatic irrigation systems.  Aker recommends Japanese plum yew instead.

Sorry about the regional nature of this post; think of it as a conversation-starter or eye-opener.  Or just a downer.


  1. When Kathy over at Cold Climate Gardening did a post about this winter’s weather, some of the pitfalls of global warming (and El Nino, which I think it more responsible for this year’s insanity) came up in regards to the plant world. Particularly how some fruit trees need a minimum amount of cold to set fruit well. I hadn’t thought about the production aspect of these changes before, so I thought I’d toss it out here…

  2. I would not worry about any lilac, blue spruce, espec. the junipers. I live in Northern Arizona – hot desert, very little water. And these are all excellent plants here. Summer temps in the 100’s with dew points in the single digits. Dust for 4 months and these plants grow and flower (lilac anyway) here. Don’t sweat it. In your neck of the woods they will flourish.

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