Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hot Plants -- How Midwest Plants Can Survive Extreme Heat

She said yes!  Then, the robust hydrangea planted in the yard in anticipation of the firstborn's wedding  suddenly collapsed, brilliant blooms curling inward. 

For the past week temperatures have topped ninety degrees by mid-afternoon.  How can tender and newly planted flowers and shrubs survive this persistent heat?

Water is essential, but not the only defense.  Early morning watering helps, but if a plant is located in hot afternoon sun, it may still wilt.  If wind accompanies the heat, supplement water intake with hydration.  Direct a sold stream of H2O to the root and drip line of the plant.  Water on the leaves could act as a magnifier in the hot sun--so minimize overspray.

Some sagging isn't hazardous to the long-term health of a plant, particularly if it's well established.  Plants, like people,
tend to droop in high heat, but normally the luster's restored as soon as temperatures are back in the seventies to mid-eighties. 

Heat scorched leaves may be unavoidable and should be snipped away.  They won't hurt the plant, clipping only improves aesthetics and promotes regrowth.

Nevertheless, more than a couple days of significant wilt ,( i.e. reduction of the plant to less than a third of  normal height) can be deadly. 

If that's the case, the solution isn't terribly pretty--but it works.  Throw shade!  Fashion an open sided heat shield.  Nothing fancy, prop up some cardboard or a sheet.  Don't lay the material directly on the plant.  Leave room for air to circulate,  or a "hothouse" effect will follow. 

Once the heat wave passes, trim any permanent damage and increase water for a few weeks.

Don't fertilize until the plant is back in fighting shape.


By the time fall nuptials occur, the hydrangea should be big and blooming. 

But all eyes will be on the bride ...

Hot Topics:

Rockery and Roll -- Xeriscape Gardening

Will My Plants Survive This Drought?


Friday, April 28, 2017

How (Not) To Grow Basil. ~~~ Hello Oregano!

I love everything about basil.  Love the leafy look, the rich scent, love to slice it chiffonade style, and, of course, there's the taste, either fresh or newly dried. 

But I can't grow it.  Newly planted green sprouts quickly turn black and/or disintegrate, both indoors and out.  It's killin' me. 

Hello oregano!
Research suggests allow at least six hours of sun, and good drainage.  I tried large sunny pots last year, but after a few weeks, the plant disappeared. 

Herbs brought into the garden shed last fall thrived.  Oregano took over the work bench, and thyme is everywhere.






Basil went caput. 

This summer I'll plant in indirect sunlight, avoid overwatering and leave more room around the plant.  Pots are likely the best location to avoid critters. 

Homemade Margherita Pizza with Basil

We shall see Basil. 

It's not over yet ...

More blogs about basil:

Look What Survived the Winter in My Garden

Spring Frost Damage to Trees and Plants

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Losing Impatiens in 2017

In 2017 impatiens blight is likely to return
Sickly stems and yellowed leaves reappeared in mid-summer last season.

Seems the balsam blight has tucked in.

Despite the hope that downy mildew would fizzle after a three year quarantine, impatiens remain diseased after four years.

Good garden practices can't overcome the trifecta of nature.  Cooler temperatures, wet springs and cold winters create a susceptible host for the pathogen.  As a water mold, impatiens blight thrives in cooler humid environments in the range of 59 to 73 degrees. Once infected,
midsummer heat is no antidote for these tender annuals.

It's not difficult to be seduced by full flowering flats each spring.  It's simply not worth the cost and effort  to purchase and plant annuals which may not survive the season, and could contaminate the surrounding soil to boot. 

As soon as the signs of blight appear {drooping leaves, tiny white flecks on the underside} there's no going back.  There's no cure. Pull the plants out and dispose of them far away.  Do not compost. 

Begonias are the new impatiens
If you succumb to the understandable lure of these colorful shade annuals, it's recommended that starters be quarantined for at least two weeks.  Check for signs of the disease.  Don't plant in the same location as the prior year (or two.)

While the busy lizzie blight is not transferable to surrounding plant species, it is recommended that plants within a three foot radius be removed. Still, I can't bring myself to remove a healthy plant simply because of unruly neighbors. 

Avoid the grief--it's far less frustrating to plant fill the yard any of number of colorful alternatives:


What to Plant Instead of Impatiens?

Should I Plant Coleus Instead of Impatiens?

Begonias are the New Impatiens

Plants That Thrive Where the Sun Don't Shine