fool me once...

christinmk z5b eastern WAJuly 16, 2014

Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery has said that "I consider every plant hardy until I have it killed it myself...three times". Do you feel the same?

How many times will you attempt to grow a plant that keeps dying out? What circumstances would you be more or less likely to replace it?

Is there any plant you feel worth growing, no matter how many times you loose it?

I've been thinking a lot about this, since so many plants died out over last winter. Usually I never replace plants that die out. I'd honesty just move on to something new if it failed, for whatever reason. This is especially true if I've had it for awhile. I never bother with re-purchasing things that are short lived or can't take the occasional bad winter.

There are a few things I am (if I get the opportunity) seriously thinking about replacing. These were either due to my fault (negligence, bad placement, etc). Asarum splendens- should have tried in front, where it is warmer and better draining. Bapstisia 'Purple Smoke'- my negligence/might have weeded too close to it, lol.

I've recently come to the conclusion that a LOT those items a plant later in the season (even Sep) have a higher chance of dying over the winter. Several of those I may replace...including 'Pamina' Jap Anemone.

How about you guys?

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I tend to give them a pass and focus on adding more of those that are reliably hardy. I don't find it especially difficult to let go of something that proves itself to be a poor performer. In my mind, garden beds are never completely "finished" but more they're a work in progress and evolve over the years. The beds are finally filled and mature this year but that didn't stop me from adding/tucking in a few things--strawberry pink coral bells to contrast with palace purple and variegated Solomon's seal for foliage contrast with hosta.

My Purple Smoke baptisia has been in the ground since 2008 so it's sufficiently well established to have survived the horrendous winter.

I guess I just take the losses as "hits" to be expected when fighting with or challenging Mother Nature. It's also a learning process. When I started gardening here I didn't know some things were "short-lived" perennials. I no longer bother with those. I figure I'm in this for the long haul and focus on plants that march to the same beat. I keep notes that I can refer to in the cold weather so I don't repeat mistakes made in previous years.

Is there any plant you feel worth growing, no matter how many times you loose it?

Nothing comes to mind but there are some I really regret: catananche/Cupid's dart, foxglove, blanket flower, English daisy, delphinium.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:24PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I generally don't replace winter-killed things with the same plant. The thing I most regret losing this past winter was 'Waterfall' Japanese maple. I thought it had survived - it leafed out and was looking pretty good, although it had some dead branches. In late May I made a mental note to prune off the dead stuff at some point and then didn't bother checking on it again. Last weekend I was doing some work near where it was - and was shocked to find that the whole thing is now dead! I assume its roots must have been damaged and could not support the new growth it managed to put out in spring. I briefly considered replacing it because it was a beautiful thing but obviously not tough enough, so I won't be replacing it. My most surprising winter loss was the Sweet Woodruff that was the groundcover under the white pines. It almost totally died out - it looks very bare under the pines this year.... But some bits are starting to return - maybe from seeds....? So, hopefully it'll be back to normal by next year - unless we have another winter like this past one :-( Wild Ginger took a big this winter also, which really surprised me, but it is slowly recovering too. If neither the Sweet Woodruff or Wild Ginger had recovered, I'd have been hard pressed to find an alternative to survive the conditions under there so I would probably have had to replant them. A few years ago I lost my Spigelia, which I do want to replace - and Rouge has found one for me!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:28PM
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So much depends on how you garden.

I try to use as many different perennials as possible in our mixed perennial beds; also sometimes as many useful cultivars of the same perennial as possible.

Some perennials take this better than others. For instance, tall bearded irises generally don't like to be part of the crowd.

Gardening like this (with due attention to ongoing maintenance), some perennials/cultivars live longer than others. Some perennials are also naturally longer lived. Presumably our overall growing conditions also favour some perennials.

That said, I expect to replace some plants every year, though the replacements seem to get fewer and fewer as plants have proven themselves. Some of those replaced just weren't doing well. Some were removed for being too robust and/or not providing enough bloom. In fact, division aside, it's sometimes better to take out an older plant and replace it with a younger version of the same thing.

Plants dying does provide the opportunity to try something new and potentially better (that is from plants' behaviour in a mixed perennial bed to the show they put on when they bloom).

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:11PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

It really depends on the plant. For example, I have never had scabiosa overwinter for me. If I find it cheap, I'll buy it and treat it as an annual. It's such a bloom machine that I don't mind. Guara, on the other hand, I gave up on. I tried twice and they just never came back.

Some plants I love so much that I'll plant them even though I know I'll probably just get a couple of years - agastache tends to be like that for me.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:44AM
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After too many tries I have reluctantly given on having a dwarf "Butterfly Bush" in our garden. I think I know the whole spiel ie plant as early as possible in the summer; full sun, good drainage and don't prune back until one sees green shoots in the spring. And yet still no luck. I love this plant.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Every time I kill a plant, I learn more about what it likes or doesn't like. I can usually eventually grow it...though it may be massively unhappy (aka aconitums and southern heat).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:44AM
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I'm still on the steep part of the learning curve here in the desert Southwest. I plant according to what I read online because there's very little gardening around where we live. But online info isn't trustworthy so I have a fairly high failure rate.

As I become more experienced, I will have a better feel for what works well (salvias, agastaches), what works with TLC (non-native ornamental grasses) and what doesn't work at all (anything needing shade or constant moisture).


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:55AM
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rouge - have you tried the "Buzz" series by any chance? I picked up two of these (Buzz Magenta) on clearance at Lowes late last summer. They were small and not in great shape when I got them, but survived the winter fine.

They haven't grown a lot this year, but are in way too much shade (trees were supposed to be taken down in that bed, and that ended up not happening).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:02PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I spoke too soon about the Waterfall Japanese Maple being dead! I was out this morning weeding and assessing the state of things in preparation for some garden visitors next week, and there was the Waterfall very much alive - but somewhat stressed.... YAY!! When I thought it was dead the other day, I was looking at it from behind - the dead stems and branches turn out to be from the Hydrangea serrata 'Bluebird' that I had forgotten was there. And that one appears to be coming back from the roots (although I need to inspect it all more closely - there is a sort of thicket of plants in that area so access is a bit tricky).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:51PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Me? I do not normally replace anything that died...except Hosta 'June'. The reason my first 'June' died was that I had planted her in a container. I planted the replacement in the ground and she has been doing well.

Other than that, never.
I plant thickly and closely and let the toughest survive. I also allow them to reseed. I absolutely cannot stand bare spots in my garden.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:17PM
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I will move a plant that is doing poorly until I find the right place. I help it struggle through if I have to, but then move it come season's end. I've had them survive winter and do better in an "opposite" spot (from totally sunny and somewhat good drainage, to part shade and more moisture rententive). If it can't handle moving, it's a goner. Most do all right.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:29PM
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I spoke too soon about the Waterfall Japanese Maple being dead!

I lost very few plants this spring BUT I was very disappointed when only the lower branches of my Filigree Green Lace Japanese Maple leafed out. I waited and waited but nada from any of the other branches. I liked this tree so much that I did replace it with the same. I will need to protect it this coming winter.

'woody', I am glad to hear your Waterfall is alive but it may not be fully recovered in time to withstand the coming winter. You should consider a wind break at the least.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:56PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Rouge - the Waterfall is against the north side of the shed and, unfortunately, our prevailing winter winds are from the NE. But the white pines are not too far away on the north side so they offer protection. The Waterfall has survived quite a few winters in this location without any problems so I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed that this past winter won't be repeated again too soon, or that Waterfall will continue to be tough enough to survive again if we do get another bad winter. There was a wide variation in JM winter survival around here - from no damage at all to totally dead. Waterfall is the only one I would consider replacing if it had indeed died.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:33PM
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I replaced a Pink Double Delight Echinacea that didn't make it through it's first winter. The second time was the charm for me and this one is doing great, in spite of the hard winter we just had.

If I have an emotional link to at plant, I would definitely try to replace it. I am looking everywhere for a white Baby's Tears button mum that I had brought from my parents house when we sold it and that didn't make it through the past winter. No one seems to sell them and I wonder how much chance I have in finding a trade for a piece.

I was not able to replace my two year old Orkney Cherry hardy geranium that died over winter since not very many places - even on line places - sell this one. I bought a Ballerina hardy geranium instead from Bluestone and am hopeful it is happy here. Bunnies have nibbled the edges and it's now fenced for safely. Both the Orkney Cherry - loved that plant- and Ballerina are smaller cranesbills that fit the spot I put them in so well.

Lost a heather last winter - newly planted last fall - and replaced it when I found one on sale at Lowes in the late spring for $5. This one is growing well and putting on new growth. I'll be crossing my fingers that this one makes it.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:39PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

linlily, if you'd still like an Okney Cherry Lazys's sells it. I've used them in the past and I highly recommend them.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:03PM
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For me, it's Heuchera. I have no idea why I keep buying gorgeous new ones, only to see them get smaller everyday. And with my exisiting heucheras, I am babying them, moving them to more or less shade/sun, potting up those that look like they need Hospice care, moving those pots around, and meanwhile, cruising nurseries for more. And then there's always the replanting of the ones that have heaved out of the soil. Someone make me stop! I guess it's because everything else in my garden seems to do very well and I have quite a nice shade garden - I guess those dang Heucheras are like a challenge for me that I will never win.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:24AM
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Carolinaflowerlover NC Zone 7b

I tend to give many things at least two chances, because (sometimes) I get it right the second time around. I use a lot of annuals in my perennials, though. :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:47AM
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Thanks for the suggestion 2zmom but I have G.Ballerina growing in that spot now. I hope I like it as well as I liked Orkney Cherry. OC had bronze colored leaves that were the perfect backdrop for the pink flowers. And it bloomed all summer. We'll see how Ballerina works out for me.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:27AM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

linlily, I hope you have better luck with Ballerina than I did. It did not survive for me. I suspect it needed a bit more sun than I was giving it.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:03PM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

Replaced a 'Golden Glory' Cornelian Cherry against the advice of a knowledgeable gardener. The same spot. That was 4 or 5 years ago. Looks better and better, each Spring.
Tried Asarina procumbens 3 times. Reputed super easy. Probably won't again.
Plants are worth trying again, but if $8 seems costly to you, you have now paid $24. Painful to me.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 2:08AM
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rouge - have you tried the "Buzz" series by any chance? I picked up two of these (Buzz Magenta) on clearance at Lowes late last summer. They were small and not in great shape when I got them, but survived the winter fine.

'ruth', ever since you posted I have been subconsciously and now consciously thinking about trying again....crazy!

I was thinking...before I more carefully read your post that it was too late in the season to plant a BB. But now I see you say you got yours late in the season. Hmm...

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 6:34AM
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luckyladyslipper(MA 5b-6a)

I lost my beloved 'Black Knight' Buddleia after this winter. Even though I, too, usually move on from a plant that isn't hardy, I had hoped to replace this one and try again. There is just nothing as stunning in late-summer bouquets than Black Knight! And the butterflies really loved it, too.

I'd appreciate any advice about the folly of trying again on this one.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 7:02AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Well, there is a lot to be said for knowing what won't grow in your garden and not purchasing any more of that -- that is wasted money, unless, like above poster, you treat it like an annual and are ok with tossing it at the end of the season/bloom cycle.

I can't grow shasta daisies at this house if my life depended on it. No clue why, any dimwit can grow shastas. I figure there must be something in the soil they don't like. So, I'll occasionally buy one, put it in a decorative pot, and enjoy it for a month or so then toss it when it's done blooming. Worth the $10 to me because I do get a lot of enjoyment from the cheerful blooms. Can't grow bloodroot, either, and it's native to my area. My neighbor has all kinds of clumps that I gave her when I bought a box of rhizomes (bulk order). Hers are spectacular, I have NOT ONE left - and she lives right next door! BAH! Maybe it's the rodents, who knows.

I also think placement plays a big role -- right plant, right place should be your mantra. Give a plant what it wants, and it should thrive. Note the word should -- because sometimes a plant just doesn't do well, who knows why, and stuff does eventually die. Just like we all will someday. I think it odd that people just have to know what grandpa died from, the old goat was 90-whatever but oh no disease X killed him, blame it on disease X. Um, no, honey - he was old, that's why he died. We're all going down that road eventually, some sooner than others. Same with plants - they get old and they die, some sooner than others.

Anyway, I don't necessarily agree with Tony Avent - he's in a totally different zone than I am. If I tried to grow zone 7 or 8 plants in the ground, the odds of survival are slim to none. That's not the plant's fault, it's probably perfectly hardy it's native climate, it's MY fault, I'm the dum-dum who thought I could beat the odds. OTOH, the only way to know if a zone-appropriate will do well in your own garden is to try it, repeat if fails - so I can agree with the three strikes and you're out ruling there.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 11:14AM
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So 'ruth' yesterday afternoon I went out and purchased 2 of these very small Butterfly Bushes Lo & Behold "Pink Micro Chip" last try. Thanks for enabling

Here is a link that might be useful: Micro Chip BB

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:55AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

We're going out this afternoon to see if we can find a small butterfly bush to replace the mid-sized one that died in the south driveway border. In the spring there were no butterfly bushes to be found at all in garden centers around here - they all said their suppliers had lost most of their stock this past winter! Hopefully new stock is available now. But it's likely going to be from further south, not from locally grown stock - I'm not sure if that will make any difference in future survival rates or not.

The only butterfly bush that survived the winter here was a Lo & Behold Blue Chip. It was hit hard though and only has a few flowers, but it did survive when all the bigger ones died, so I'll be looking for more of those.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:18AM
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For me, it depends on why I lost it. I tend not to lose things to winter hardiness since I don't usually push zones too hard and we usually get good snow cover to mitigate cold temperatures. There are a few exceptions (I am a sucker for western Agastaches of borderline hardiness), and those I don't usually replace if lost during the winter. I also don't replace plants lost or severely disfigured due to insect or disease issues.

If I lost it due to cultural issues, it depends on whether I have another spot that will suit its preferences better. I will only replace it if I really like the plant and think I have an available site that will be more to its liking.

However, I have a plague of voles every year (and this year moles as well), and those plants I replace since it was neither my culture or the plant's preferences that caused it to die. I do replant this type of loss (and any future plants in the same species) in buried hardware cloth cages. I am also working to regularly replace the castor oil spray that discourages them from the beds in general.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 3:12PM
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luckyladyslipper - my multiple 'Black Knight' butterfly bushes survived the horrible winter and all of them came back this year. Assuming they bloom, you're welcome to seeds once fall rolls around. All mine were seed-grown via winter sowing in 2010, which may or may not mean they're tougher than nursery-grown plants.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 9:19PM
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luckyladyslipper(MA 5b-6a)

Gardenweed: I'd love to take you up on that! Seems likely that growing them here will produce plants that are more winter-hardy than ones "imported" from farther south. How many years does it take to mature enough to bloom?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 9:31PM
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