Never Say Never

“Never Say Never”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Conventional wisdom says that after a freeze, if a plant has not returned by mid-spring, it should be considered dead. This has always been my experience, until this year. I have written before about plants not showing up until July which is so unusual for the Gulf South. But this weekend, I just couldn’t believe my eyes.



This is my coral bean tree (Erythrina herbacea). This is a deciduous tree, and because mine was only two years old, it has died down to the ground the past two winters, but coming back this late is just beyond my experience. It was heavily mulched, more so than in years past, and I was so surprised when it did not return by mid-May. In early July, I tried to pull it up out of the ground, and it didn’t budge. I just left it at the time (luckily) and figured it would just eventually rot away.

I am a little concerned with its coming back so late in the summer. Will it be able to survive this winter? I am thinking about digging it up completely, putting it in a container, overwintering it in a warm place, and then planting it out next spring.

When I first saw the blooms on this tree, I was so taken with the unusual shape and color that I just had to have one. This tree was growing outside of a stadium, and I even had thoughts of returning later to see if I could find some seeds to grow. Just by chance, about three weeks later, I found one to buy. Check out this post from Zanthan Gardens which shows the flowers, and you will understand why I wanted one so badly. Mine has not grown big enough to bloom yet, so I have no photos of my own.

It would be a shame to lose this plant after it has tried so hard to return. I know now, I will not be so quick to give up on a plant that appears to be dead after winter’s chilly temperatures. In this case, never say never is so true.


  1. Stacie Shepp said,

    August 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Wow….. that’s quite a story. I wanted to introduce you to our new social network for gardeners, Soon we will be introducing a Glog, Garden Log, so that you can keep track of these kinds of things on your garden.

    I’ll send you an e-mail with a bit more information.

    Let me know if you set up a garden!


  2. Sylvia (England) said,

    August 25, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Jen, I think it is a good idea to dig it up and grow it on to a bigger plant that stands a better chance in the winter. I have a few plants that come back so late in the year and then our summers are not hot enough for them to flower. I am sure that the lack of heat in the summer is what stops me being able to grow some annuals, Morning Glory springs to mind. I have read that this self seeds in areas with colder winters but I can’t get it to grow to flowering size. Last year I planted it later in hope it would grow but no, this year I forgot to plant the seed – just as well summer has been cool and damp. Good luck with your coral bean tree, it is beautiful.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    • Jan said,

      August 25, 2010 at 4:28 am

      Sylvia, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that I need to dig this up. Coming back so late, I just don’t think it will be big enough or strong enough to survive winter. What a shame you can’t grow Morning Glory, etc. Have you tried starting the seeds indoors early in the year and then transplanting them outside when it warms up? I can understand not doing this with a great many seeds, but just a few might be manageable.

  3. Sue said,

    August 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Glad to see your favorite plant came back. I lost a lot this last winter.

  4. Sylvia (England) said,

    August 26, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Yes, Jan that is how we normally grow morning glory here. Early summer nights can be quite cold even after all frosts have ended and I think these dips in temperature stunt their growth. Then, most years, the summer is just not hot enough or long enough for them to get going. I live near the coast, in the west of England which means we get lots of rain and the sea reduces the temperature by a few degrees. I need to try them in a different part of the garden – that often makes all the difference. Next year I will try again!

    Thank you for your reply, best wishes Sylvia

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