To survive in zone 9-A which is my climate zone a plant must be able to tolerate long periods of deadly heat, humidity, dry soil which is mostly infertile sand, the wet season when a lot of plants die due to the extreme constant wetness (molds and mildews) and insect pests. Then there are the cold snaps in winter. 9-A is semi-tropical since we get frosts here on some winter nights. The coldest I remember was one night it hit 26F. So plants must be able to tolerate those freezing temps though they only last a few hours. So a plant has to be pretty darn tough and tolerant to thrive here without a lot of help.
The plants that died were mostly azaleas, rose bushes, figs, flowering ginger, cannas, banana plants, and some perennial flowers I brought from TN. The tougher ones like the assortment of palms are doing fine.
I'm learning fast which flowers can survive the summer heat here in pots though not in the ground. Some lived over the winter and started growing again in March when the weather, day and night, is warming up. I put bark mulch were the flowerbeds from the last owner was - no use trying to keep anything alive in the sand that isn't native.
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