Dong Quai Hardiness
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Regina Reinschmidt
Posted on: March 2, 2000

I purchased a dong quai plant last time I ordered and it did not winter over. The literature says it’s 5-9 and we are in zone 5 but it did not survive. Any input?

Since dong quai is an Angelica species it will act like a biennual if allowed to go to seed. What happens is that the seed production takes so much out of the plant that it has not enough strength left to survive the rigours of winter.

However not all winters are the same. A winter with a lot of freezing and thawing can be death for plants that could stand very much colder temperatures than those prevalent in the winter that killed it anyway. The reason for this is that some plants come from short season areas such as mountains and must start growing as soon as possible to be able to have enough time to produce seed for next year. They usually come from a land-climate area where there is no spring and fall - just a sudden switch to summer or winter. The fluctuating temperatures of a typical spring kill it because it comes into growth, thereby losing its cold hardiness and the next switch to freezing temperatures kills it. The only solution is heavy mulching as soon as the plant is frozen and keeping the mulch on to prevent thawing for as long as possible in the spring. Pop a basket over it after growth has started and a late frost is forecast.

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