Article: Myth #1: Perennials Never Need To Be Replaced.: Northern climate dependables

 
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Image Myth #1: Perennials Never Need To Be Replaced.
By Charlie Street on October 1, 2010

There are several popular myths associated with perennial plants. One is that once purchased and planted all perennials will never have to be replaced. They will live for not just more than two years (more than a biennial), but actually for years and years. A second myth is that all perennials require little or no maintenance. Maintenance aside, some perennial species/cultivars just live longer than others.

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ImageJaeRae
Oct 4, 2010 8:38 AM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
I really enjoyed your comments Charlie because several that you listed have confused me when they seemed prolific orignally (here in WI) and just disappeared in the next couple of years. So it's not all my fault, huh? Hilarious!

Many that you mention, I have had really good returns on too, and while some of mine are older, I've had more time to focus on natural and perennial gardening more closely for about 7-8 years now myself. My goal is to have color all season long. In addition to many that you mention, there are a couple that I have had really good luck with that do not appear on your list (so I'll mention).

One is Big Leaf Goldenray (Ligularia dentata 'Othello'). It has beautiful foliage all year (dark green red veined purple backed lobe shaped leaves) and blooms at a perfect time to fill the gap between summer and fall (about the same time as phlox begins and before asters and mums). I also like that it does well in part sun and even shade. It is best for borders and pathways (rather than a garden plant) because it is such a prolific spreader.

Another that shows up earlier, blooms much longer but fills the same timing gap is Cardinal flower (Lobelia Cardinalis). I love it's showiness and it does a great job of attracting hummers and butterflies.

Both have been very hardy re-propagators even though I always collect seeds for winter and spring sowing.

This was a very good article for those of us that expected to be...well...uh...lazy! Hilarious!
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
SunnyBorders
Oct 4, 2010 10:28 AM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5a
Thank you for your comments, Jamie.

I'm very interested in hearing what works (and doesn't work - or works too much!) for other perennial gardeners.

I definitely need to try Ligularia again. I did put it in one garden, but the garden was erased after three years by construction and I wasn't therefore able to check it for invasiveness in that particular location. Your flowering time information is particularly useful for me.

I too love Lobelia cardinalis, which I've used along with several cultivars of L. fulgens, (all lasted a number of years but no evidence of reseeding here).

I have found L. siphilitica (blue lobelia), also a very attractive plant, to self reseed itself very readily in wetter areas (in my case where there are sprinkler systems). One very knowledgeable gardener was telling me that she no longer uses this plant because it reseeds too readily, but I've consistently found that if it does, it's very easy to remove.
ImageJaeRae
Oct 4, 2010 11:00 AM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
I don't have any blue lobelia but that is a good suggestion. By your description, I have an area that would probably be good to mix them in. The cardinals do so well for me similarly in an area that is not wet but low enough to stay moist (by the corner of a bridge that goes over a small swale). If they don't self seed, you can propigate by bending the stalks while they are still flexible and burying the heads in the ground still attached. I do all three things (save seed heads, leave some to drop, and bury the stalks) so I don't really know what works best.

On the Goldenray, I usually propigate additional by just thinning and replanting, but I can send some Ligularia seed heads if you'd like, just c-mail an address. Here's a pix of some in bloom (same time as wild blue phlox...right behind them):
Thumb of 2010-10-04/JaeRae/609c17
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
SunnyBorders
Oct 4, 2010 7:44 PM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5a
Jamie,
Thanks for the picture and the Goldenray seed head offer. Will C-mail you.

Interesting idea, bending the stalks and planting the heads. I've heard of it with shrubs, but not with perennials like cardinal flower.

Below blue lobelia (mid Aug 2010) in a garden I put in and still maintain for a customer.

Thumb of 2010-10-05/SunnyBorders/e87f5c
ImageJaeRae
Oct 4, 2010 9:29 PM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
Beautiful! You know for some odd reason, I've not had good luck with Rudbeckia and only minimal response with blanket flower. Silly...every source says worst case, they have to be thinned. Did you start those from seed or plants? BTW Coreopsis and Cocrosmia does very well in similar spot and soil. EGAD!
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageSharon
Oct 4, 2010 9:51 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Hi Jamie,
Interesting to hear again about your garden. I remember a lovely fall picture taken near your little bridge one year. So pretty.

I've had crocosmia in the same place for several years. It came back this year, lovely as ever, all bold and spreading as it usually does. By mid June, when the heat and drought started, it struggled and struggled and struggled through July and by August, even with watering it began to crunchify. Is that a good descriptive word? Crunchified itself to death, and became nothing but brown sticks and foliage and no blooms.

So is this the demise of my beautiful crocosmia? Or is there hope for its roots?
It's a quandary.

We had 3 inches of rain the last of August, none since then. But my daylilies came back in triplicate, maybe more. So they weren't harmed, not yet anyway...but no sign of the crocosmia.

I didn't have a very pretty summer.
Grumble.
ImageJaeRae
Oct 4, 2010 10:28 PM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
Hi Sharon....i've been off most of the day. Actually my crocosmia came up very nicely as usual but bloomed less than they normally do. I attributed it to the same big dry heatwave we had in June/July but since the foliage looks good I think, along with other things that wanted rain more than city water, they will be fine. Mine are lucky though because they are near the bridge and next to the swale as are the cardnial flower. That means any moisture at all collects in the soil near them.

My crispies were up on the wall above the swale....but I don't think I really lost anything (that wouldn't have been gone this year anyway except I am worried about my obedient flower. it came up real strong and started to bloom but that first heatwave midsummer caused it to bend over unhappily. I did collect seed from it, it is one of my favorite plants! (I guess because it normally IS obedient...and both you and I know how hard that is! Hilarious! )

I'm gonna' guess, because it is a bulb, since rot would not have been the problem, that your crocosmia will show up next year. If not, planting is still an option since it's a spring bulb.......don't you just wish our birthdays were in spring???? Hilarious!
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageSharon
Oct 4, 2010 10:33 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
I wish my birthday wasn't...at all.

Thinking about skipping mine anyway, we'll just celebrate yours this year, how's that?

Good about the crocosmia, maybe so.
ImageJaeRae
Oct 4, 2010 10:35 PM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing ....well I don't really want any more either...maybe a sympathy card? .....or an atomatic, "Hope you're feeling better soon" Hilarious!
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageSharon
Oct 4, 2010 10:39 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Oh good. I have just enough time to paint you a sympathy card.

But actually...really and truly.....I'm running a little low on the....ummm...coffee. So maybe one more birthday wouldn't hurt a bit.
ImageJaeRae
Oct 4, 2010 10:49 PM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
Oh good! I'd love one I could frame! (sign the corner and only have sympathy on the inside!) Hummmm coffee again?... I never know about supplies. What's your fav origin?
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageSharon
Oct 4, 2010 11:08 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Holiday blend was my favorite of all of them.
But save it for the holidays.

We are kidnapping Charlie's thread, he doesn't know that we go back hundreds of years. But your climate is much more like his, I think.
ImageJaeRae
Oct 4, 2010 11:53 PM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
I know...I felt guilty but he (and even you) have the power to delete us!....go look at http://www.groundsforchange and c-mail me some interests...Christmas is for Wisconsin cheese, no?

Sorry Charlie. *Blush*
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageSharon
Oct 5, 2010 12:07 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Oh, Charlie doesn't mind at all. I've known him for a long time too.
He knows I get easily distracted.

Not going to delete a thing.
We'll talk coffee and cheese and chocolate later.

Right now it's bedtime!
Nite!
SunnyBorders
Oct 5, 2010 10:11 AM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5a
Don't worry at all, Jamie.

I'd always chose to have Sharon around!

As said, I'll be back to you in a couple of days, after I've spoken to David re seed germination. It's disturbing to see such apparent contradictions on-line about peoples' success in germinating seeds of some Rudbeckia cultivars.
ImageLance
Oct 5, 2010 11:10 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) is a wetter plant I think, so make sure it does not dry out. Especially during hotter weather.
Another thing to remember about 'running' plants like obedient plant is that many of them need to run to keep going. The place where the original plant was placed will lose its roots and underground stem, but will happily send out runners and keep moving. If you try and contain it, you may very well lose the plant, as the older areas of the plant die off and nothing new replaces it. I have had this happen with many mints, as well.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
SunnyBorders
Oct 5, 2010 4:45 PM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5a
Great points, Lance.

May not be very convenient (for the gardener) in a mixed perennial bed for plants to move around, but it's often a fact of plant life!

ImageJaeRae
Oct 5, 2010 6:08 PM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
Good points Lance, so you are saying they are not necessarily very obedient afterall, huh? Hilarious!

Actually, they are not 'contained' (no more than anything in my jungle here!) They are though next to phlox and I like them together because their bloom periods overlap a little but even though they were watered regularly, we did have a really hot spell for a whole month just when the obedient plant were in early stalk stage. The phlox which came quite prolifically may be crowding them a bit. I will watch that and maybe clear them more space next season. Thanks.
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageMaryE
Apr 17, 2011 10:00 AM CST
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
I'm only about 6 months late asking this. Charlie, what is the cultivar name of the tall blue lobelia in the picture above? I'm only aquainted with the low growing or hanging types.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at http://thegatheringplacehome.myfastforum.org/forum54.php
SunnyBorders
Apr 17, 2011 1:27 PM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5a
Hi Mary.

Don't worry about the delay. There's things I intended to do 30 years ago. Fortunately my memory isn't always that good.

It's Lobelia siphilitica (Great Blue Lobelia), a native species. It does particularly well with a bit of moisture. A very knowledgeable lady in a garden centre was telling me she loves it, but no longer grows it in her garden. Reason: it readily produces seedlings.

Must say from my experience, I'd highly recommend the plant. I don't find it an invasive seeder at all (and I'm quite hyper about rabid seeders, currently like Scilla, Chionodoxa and Puschkinia!). The seedlings are very easy to remove or to move to other locations.

Think the "siphilitica" comes from an erroneous European belief that the natives used it to cure syphilis. Also believe it's poisonous to eat!

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