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How far north can seagrapes reliably grow?


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5 hours ago, ddbythec said:

When my sea grape leaves fall I just mow over them mulching them,  it’s good for the ground does anybody else do that?

Yes, I do this.  My soil is already very dark by Florida standards, but a little more organic material can't hurt.


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Lakeland, FL

USDA Zone 1990: 9a  2012: 9b  2023: 10a | Sunset Zone: 26 | Record Low: 20F/-6.67C (Jan. 1985, Dec.1962) | Record Low USDA Zone: 9a

30-Year Avg. Low: 30F | 30-year Min: 24F

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We had many seagrapes growing wild at our house in the Florida Keys...I have a soft spot for them, and have one growing happily here in the California desert (Palm Springs area), with no complaints. However, they do get VERY large in the appropriate situation, and as some mentioned above, perhaps best in 9b areas where they can get knocked back periodically to keep them in check. We had a couple that were really monsters with massive trunks. One was completely pulled over by Irma's wrath, another had its top chewed up severely. But they are very, very resilient. They can come back from almost any insult. They don't seem to care if they're growing in solid coral rock, sand or dirt. A love/hate with this one for me, it has a very unique landscape quality, the fruit can actually be very tasty (despite the low amount of flesh and large seed), though there seems to be a general opinion that, even though some have both male and female flowers, they behave as dioecious plants, so best to have two or three if you want to see fruit. It has an unruly, sprawly habit, branching is crazy and all over the place, but this is probably what helps it survive well for the most part during storms. They need room unless you keep them appropriately pruned or hedge them (yes, that is done regularly in Florida). And the beautiful big leaves...so unusual and fun to have when they're green and on the tree...when they fall, especially en masse, it is another story. They are a PITA to deal with but as was mentioned above easy to pick up manually due to their size, and if you let them dry out they can be crumbled in hand very easily. They are definitely less of a nightmare than, say, Magnolia grandiflora, in that respect. BTW, there is a specimen of the previously mentioned and similar C. goldmanii documented as growing at University of Arizona in Tucson, not exactly a frost-free place. It is said to have done very well there.

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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@ddbythecmy seagrapes are right next to a section of grass, so I mow them into mulch.  I just leave the ones that end up in the big planting area.  They disintegrate reasonably quickly and mix with the mulch in the beds.  Magnolia leaves are much more persistent, but drop so randomly I never really notice.  I notice the seagrape leaves when they all burn off on the same day in December or January...  :D

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