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O.K. Can somebody explain...

Posted by lindakimy 8 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 8, 07 at 21:08

I kinda understand that when you get seeds that have been harvested from someone's garden they MIGHT not be quite what you expect. Cross pollination and all that stuff I missed in Biology 101. Sometimes it's charming. Sometimes it is cool.

But there are other things I can't explain. come I have zinnias as tall as I am (5'8") and celosia about that tall (I expected it to be about the same size as the red ones - whoops) -
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...and cannas that are (we measured) approaching 9 feet tall!
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My tithonia is higher than my head. Both of my vitex have grown about 3 feet just this summer. I have cosmos that are almost 5 feet tall...

And THIS is my Yvonne's Salvia!
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WHAT HAPPENED? I started amending that bed last summer! It is FULL of horse manure and fertilized garden soil - that rested and worked for months. It has worms in it!!! (That is a minor miracle around here.) I've watered and fertilized on a regular schedule. WHAT does this plant want?'s not that ALL my plants are stunted. Some grow WAY bigger than planned. I'm so confused.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

:-) You have an ideal planting condition there, Linda. Most of what you have are that tall in their native tropical climate. :-) They were grown from seeds, right? They must have reverted to their non hybrid origin. They won't grow that tall in poorer soil. I like that grove of Canna. :-)

RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

I know what you mean. My canna phaison that I got last year barely grew 2 foot tall, but my cannas like yours are over 6 foot tall and also growing under our fence into the neighbors yard!!! My castor bean plants are also tiny this year, when last year they were over 6 foot tall. I've noticed that you have posted two pictures of your pink celosias. They are beautiful. What kind are they? Thanks


RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

Since I posted this I have noticed several other comments and posts about plants growing unusually tall this year or just not growing at all. As has been an unusual growing year!! LOL I really should keep my garden journal up to date so that I could really compare from one season to another rather than relying on my faulty memory.

The celosia is from seeds kindly donated to me last year when I first began wintersowing. I have a list at home identifying who sent it but don't recall offhand (faulty memory again) who it was or if there was a specific variety name on it. I don't think I'll plant it in that particular bed again but I am saving seeds and will definitely want to grow it someplace. It is certainly unique and makes a big vertical splash.

I still don't understand why the salvia did so poorly. Unless I just tried too hard! But I'm not giving up on that. I still have seeds and I'll be trying again.

RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

Linda: Just some random thoughts. I'm not an expert by any means, so don't put too much faith in this.

You mentioned soil amendments last year, did you add anything this year?

High nitrogen can cause increased height at the expense of root and blossom development unless there is also adequate P and K available as well as micronutrients.

I know manure is high in N, but I don't know what the NPK is or the micronutrient levels.

What food did you use when you say "fertilized garden soil"? Water soluble chemicals can wash away with rain or watering, which is why they recommending using stuff like miracle grow so often, like once/week. Many of these are also high NPK, salty, and have no micronutrients at all. Did you use longer acting fertilizer, or feed often? Organic, or chemical? Organic ones tend to be lower NPK, but longer acting, more balanced and have micronutes as well.

Like I said, just my thoughts, not bible truth. If you post this on the soil or organic forums you might get more reliable information. There are lots of knowledgeable people there.


RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

Karen, I constantly add to my "soil" - which is otherwise pure, white sand. I add a lot of partially composted material (trying to give moisture someplace to sit), early in the growing season I add some chemical fertilizer (I prefer organic but the Miracle Grow does give a boost), I add as much fully composted manure as I can afford. It's a neverending process.

The thing is, this sand just seems to devour any organic material I add. Gradually - like, within a year - there is no trace of it! I've been told that if I continue to add LARGE quantities of organic stuff I can get ahead of it and transform the sand into a rich growing medium. Our vegetable garden (where we have added many trailer loads of stuff) is quite productive.

The other thing is that drainage is extremely good. It is so good, in fact, that I wonder whether the plants have time to grab nutrients or moisture as they go by. It is hard for me to believe that much in the way of nutrients remains in this "ash tray sand" after watering or a (far too rare) rain. But I sure don't worry about root rot!!

BTW, last fall we had a well drilled. We discovered that we have over 90 feet of this sand under us. Then you hit a thin layer of white clay and then granite. What a place to grow flowers! LOL

RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

I also have a Tithonia that is about 8 feet tall with hundreds of blooms on it! It's the first time I ever grew it and I was taken by surprise! On the other hand my Purple perennial aster that was at least 4 feet tall last year has done nothing this year! Go figure!

RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

Linda, I have some giant plants too. Some have just been "bred" accidentally, but many are in soil well amended with horse poop.


RE: O.K. Can somebody explain...

Those must be some feisty horses if this is what their manure did to your plants!

If you have a problem with water retention have you considered trying the moisture retentive crystals they sell as additional amendment to the sand? That might hold onto the nutrients longer that contribute to root development instead of having more nutrients used for greenery growth as Karen explained.

First you might want to have your "soil" tested by a local extension of your state ag department. Then you can tell where you stand in terms of NPK PLUS all those micronutrients that effect each plant differently.

Mind you this is all information I've gotten from "book learnin" and haven't even bought seeds for my first WS foray...LOL.

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