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Annuals/Spike/Dracena lifespan

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Question
Spike-Dracena.  I live in New Brunswick Canada, Zone 3.  This will be my 5th year with them and they reach from my knees (height of pot) to my nose.  They are outdoors in summer and stored in garage attached to house,  for the rest of year without watering.  This year, they look dried and one looks lifeless.  DO THEY ONLY LIVE A FEW YEARS OR DID THEY GET TOO COLD?

Answer
Dracaena indivisa (aka Cordyline indivisa) -- commonly called the "Spike Plant" or "Spike Dracaena" -- is barely frost hardy.  I can only surmise that in your heated garage, temperatures did not plunge anywhere near the nighttime chill that you must have in Canada.

This website, gardening.eu, states that D./C. indivisa will tolerate temps "a few degrees below zero."  But bear in mind, though, that this is Celsius zero they are referring to.  Fahrenheit zero is 32 degrees and then some BELOW that "zero" on their website.

The misunderstanding of hardiness is furthered by the fact that these are native to high altitudes of mountainous regions and do not thrive in blistering summer heat.  That they grow so happily in the cooler climes is misinterpreted, by some gardeners, to mean they rank with witchhazel and tundra in their accommodation of winter weather.

These commonly live to be at least 10 years old, if cared for.  I do not think they should bite the dust at age 5.

However, keeping a dormant plant is a very tricky transaction.  It could be the temperature, or it could be complete dessication (these need just the slightest moisture even when "dormant" similar to Dahlias; spray bottles are good tools for this), or they might even just still be dormant.  Give them some time to make sure before you give up on them.

Keep me posted.

L.I.G.

Annuals

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Decisions, decisions... If you can't make up your mind which Annuals to grow, you're not alone. Problem with your new flowering Annuals flats? I`ve been there, done that. Petunias, Sweet Alyssum, Larkspur, Marine Blue Lobelia -- they all grow here at my house on Garden Street on Long Island, N.Y.. Cutting and Cottage Gardens, Sun and Shade Gardens, White Gardens and Night Gardens, I`ve done them all. Annuals are the perfect summer flower, bursting with color June through fall's first frost. I can`t speak on Cactus or tender Tropical Plants -- they don`t grow outside in my Zone 7. I`m no Farmer, so I cannot guide you on Fruits and Vegetables. But whether it`s an Annual you want to start from seed, mail-order or pick up at your local garden center, I can help you grow amazing blooms this Summer. Yes, together, we can turn your neighbors green with envy.

Experience

I have a lifetime of gardening behind me here on the North Shore of Long Island. While I have degrees in related fields, there's nothing like hands-on work to build real knowledge. I stay on top of current science -- there's a boom in research, and Kingdom Plantae is filled with surprises. By the way, I really do live on Garden Street.

Publications
Gannett newspapers, The New York Times, and hundreds of others - but not on Annuals.

Education/Credentials
B.A., botany; graduate credits in European Intellectual History and Political Science; minor coursework in related fields, docent training at our local botanical gardens (required for volunteers). I'm currently working on an advanced biochemistry degree.

Awards and Honors
I could tell you, but then you'd know who I am.

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