Calgary can be a very challenging environment for home gardeners and landscapers. Calgary’s climate is classified as Zone 3. The growing season is short, winters are cold and windy, and there is very little snow cover to provide protection for plants.
The Challenge of Chinooks
To make things even more difficult, frequent chinooks cause snow to melt and can trick plants into coming out of dormancy so they begin to take up water and nutrients. When cold weather returns a few days later, plants are very vulnerable to injury and frost damage.
Within Calgary there are areas that are better for growing certain types of plants than others. The farther away from the foothills you get, the longer the growing season. Thus, neighborhoods in the west and northwest parts of Calgary have tougher growing conditions and the choice of plants that will grow well in those areas is more limited. The east side has a longer growing season so residents who live there have a wider selection of plants that they can grow. The longest growing season of all is found in the “banana belt” of downtown Calgary.
Things you can do to help cedars survive in Calgary’s climate
Cedars grow well in the Zone 4 environments typically found in British Columbia. If you are determined to grow cedars rather than the similar but hardier junipers, there are a few things you can do to help them to survive and thrive in Calgary’s climate.
- Plant cedars in sheltered areas away from the wind. Hot winds in summer and cold winter winds can quickly kill off cedars.
- Cedars do better when planted against houses.
- Cedars do not make good hedges or borders because it exposes them to the elements.
- During the summer, cedars need a lot of water. If the tips of the foliage start to turn brown, they’re already beginning to die off. In the fall, give cedars a thorough watering to prepare them for winter.
- If you can’t live without cedars, the hardiest variety is the Holmstrap cedar.
For more information on the types of plants and shrubs that will grow best in Calgary’s climate, contact the landscaping professionals at Five Star Landscaping.