Friday, March 25, 2016

Favorite plants that aren’t showing signs of life, in March

It's the last Friday of the month and you know what that means...favorites! Well they were favorites, last year. Now I just don't know...this month I'm featuring a few things that I fear may not be returning to grace my garden for another summer. Sure there are plants that are late to leaf out, like the Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’ shown below. It seems to take forever. But the rest of these, well, tell me what you think...

That stick belongs to a Colutea, whether it's Colutea x media (as I bought it labeled) or Colutea arborescens as I suspect it is (based on the flower color) I don't care...I just want to see some sign of life!

This is what it looked like on April 4th last year when I bought it. Now granted it was in a greenhouse...

But shouldn't there be something?

I want these great seed pods again this summer!

My Paulownia tomentosa is just sticks too. I cut it back (I'm not sure if enough to technically qualify as pollarding, but close) early in the month. I'm out there every day looking for some sign of life.

I want big leaves again!

This group of sticks is a Teucridium parvifolium...

There were lots more, prettier, sticks last summer.

And tiny leaves. The Cistus Nursery description says: "...Evergreen in USDA zone 9 and upper zone 8; resprouts from the bottom of zone 8." We saw 24F, but there was snow and ice. Surely it will return?

This one really bums me out - Begonia Pedatifida. Should the rhizomes be that exposed? I don't know. They were in the container when I bought it, but I piled mulch over them for winter. There are no signs of life!

None here either.

This is what the first one looked like when I bought it last April, and I've seen images from others around town who have fully leafed out plants.

Oh the sadness!

There's a Gunnera perpensa in there. Somewhere. Hopefully.

Will I see gorgeous leaves like these again?

Finally, Passiflora lutea, which I'm sweating a bit simply because you don't find it in these parts, although it seems to be all over in the Eastern US. I mail-ordered two plants last year, and left those squiggly stems in pace to remind me where this one was planted (the other is near the base of my Trachycarpus fortunei, where there's no chance of my accidently digging it up).

Last years leaves. So is there anything you're worried might not be returning in your garden?

All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

48 comments:

  1. I hope they are all just a bit late! I'm hoping my Angel's trumpet comes back... Right now it's just a pile of sticks in a pot. This is the first time I've left it outside through winter.

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    1. My Brugmansia has been outside since January (after the snow and ice) and looks great...I hope yours does soon!

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  2. Are the Begonia rhizomes squishy or firm? I would think if they're still firm that it is ok. I know Begonia grandis is always late to come up in the spring, so maybe this is the same. I don't know enough about any of the other plants, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. I think I may have lost an Abutilon megapotamicum. The latest thing to return to my garden this year is me.

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    1. Good question and I had kind of poked at them to see. The thing is I don't know what they're supposed to feel like! The give a little, they're not hard, but there also not soft. Sorry about your Abutilon, those are tricky!

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  3. I fret every year about things like this. For me it's more about the plants that started showing signs of growth a month ago, but now that growth has shriveled. :(

    Your Colutea looks fine (the color of the bark), and the Paulownia too. Any woody plant you can do the scratch test -- use your thumbnail to scratch a tiny bit of the bark away and if you see green it's fine. With the begonia I'd poke around and see if it's all rotten or if there is anything solid left (and pull out the rotten parts). I expect to lose a few things every winter, but what is worse is if they survive just to have a deer chomp them away. Grrr.

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    1. You don't seem like the fretting type Alan!

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  4. It is a bit nerve-wracking each spring. But the breaks in the Colutea bark would be a bad sign in my 'hood. We have a Forest Pansy redbud that for the first years we always panicked it was so late leafing out. The nurseryman where we bought it said it if did not leaf out by the 4th of July then it was dead! So each year that is what we tell ourselves when we start worrying. Gunnera in a pot? Is it growing in dirt, water, boggy conditions? I keep thinking about trying that esp. now that I have a water lily pot that lost its home when we redid the driveway. It needs a new plant as well as a new home.

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    1. Ya I wondered about the bark, but when I cut it back (because those random twigs were ugly) I could see some green, so that appears to be a good sign? I'm going to do the nail test like Alan recommends.

      The Gunnera is in soil, no drainage holes. It was meant to be temporary but I didn't come up with a place to put it last fall. I've kept it moist but not soggy.

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  5. I wouldn't grieve yet. Its so strange, with the mild winter, some of my plants have come up extra early, but some are coming up quite a bit later than last year (even 6 weeks later). I'm not sure why plants were affected so differently, maybe some were just waiting for the usual cold and finally gave up. My B. petafida has its rhizomes exposed the same way as yours, I think that's how it wants to be. It just started growing recently, and didn't drown in this winter's deluge, amazingly enough.

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    1. So your B. petafida is growing too....ugh! Thanks for the encouraging words though.

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  6. Sometimes things take longer to leaf out. My Paulownia tomentosa hasn't got blooms on it yet and the leaves follow those. New growth from the ground sometimes takes forever to appear but once it does, stand back because it puts on growth very quickly. Strange about the begonia as mine has been up for a while. Maybe they vary as much in breaking dormancy as they do in leaf shape. Hope the Easter Bunny brings you lots of chocolate!

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    1. Thanks for the news about your Paulownia, good to know. I am starting to loose hope for the Begonia though.

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  7. Be patient, grasshopper. I'm of the opinion that it's impossible to kill an Albizia so I trust it will flesh out when your skies are sunny again. But I know that feeling of apprehension too. I moved my beautiful variegated Furcraea from a pot to the back border last year - I fear that decision was deadly but I haven't quite given up hope yet.

    Here's my favorites post: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2016/03/march-favorites.html

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    1. Oh I'm not worried about the Albizia, not at all. I was using it as an example of plants that are horribly late. Hope your Furcraea has a happy ending.

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  8. I think some things break dormancy based on temperature of air and soil. Others break dormancy after a certain moisture threshold. Still others on hours of sunlight. Some plants might be early that depend on temperatures with a mild winter while others arrive at the same time provided the sunlight hasn't been subdued by too many cloudy days. If you haven't had a lot of spring rain, maybe a refreshing spritz with the garden hose of the branches and buds rather than the roots.

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    1. Spring rain hasn't been lacking...not even close. We're drowning around here.

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  9. In my garden in San Diego county, the albizia leafed out so late everyone thought it was dead. It was lovely and smelled heavenly when it finally bloomed but I ultimately removed it because of the very long dormancy. It might be different with "Summer Chocolate".


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    1. As I mentioned to Kris (above) I'm not worried about the Albizia, I know it will will leaf out eventually. I mentioned it as an example of things I know are late to the garden party...

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  10. they also say - gently bend the twig.
    If it snaps, the plant is gone.
    But if it still bends ... patience ... we will return.

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    1. Ah...this is good to know, thank you!

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  11. I've just seen a few fat buds on my Paulownia stump !

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  12. So far, the surprises have come in the form of survival of plants that I badly mistreated and didn't expect much from. I think there's still plenty of reason for you to hope. Sometimes the plants just need a little extra rest. I've known things to come back after taking as much as a year off.

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    1. That's true...my front garden Eucomis did that one year. Nothing one year and then boom back the next year like they hadn't missed a beat.

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  13. Clethra aln. ‘ruby spice’ summersweet is showing a few tiny blips of life, but i think it is hopeless. this one is going to hurt. a casualty of the southern oregon month long wildfire smoke seige. i stay safe indoors while plants do not get adequate water, despite well-made irrigation plans. Aralia 'sun king' rescued from too much shade is alive. Rhus aromatica 'Gro-low' looks slightly alive. by the time it finally gets going, how useful of a groundcover will it be? since the harsh cold winter of 2014 i am hesitant to plant anything but for zone 6 and lower.

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    1. Oh you reminded me! Nothing from my Aralia 'Sun King' either! I am sorry you may have lost things because of not wanting to get out in the smoke...here's hoping we don't have a repeat of that again.

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  14. Here in z6b/[USDA says z7 but no], my biggest zone gamble has survived its first winter. It's an Edgeworthia chrysantha ('Nanking Gold'), which today cheered me immenselfy with new leaf buds swelling and turning green. I dare to hope for a bloom or two this coming winter, which will make it worth the try no matter what happens after that.

    The Edgeworthia's spot is one of the most sheltered on the property, probably a legit z7. If this one makes it another four years here as it's done in several gardens near Philadelphia, that'll convince me that it's just been conservatively zoned for most of its horticultural career. Fingers crossed!

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    1. Congrats on the Edgeworthia! That's great...fingers crossed for blooms for you.

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  15. I'm sorry, Loree. Most (all?) of these would have to annuals or houseplants in my part of the world, but I know you can usually count on them to make it through. I hope some of them will show signs of life for you soon. Maybe some are simply a little more dormant than they would have been after a warmer winter?

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    1. But we had a warm winter...one brief period of snow and ice but other than that warm...even a Zone higher than usual.

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  16. A few weeks ago I was going through the same thing with my Crape Myrtles and Chilopsis here in zone 9, Loree. Mine have finally leafed out though it was well after the rest of the garden was shrieking "spring!" Like Alison, I would say that if the Begonia is neither shrivelled nor rotten it stands a good chance of coming through - not that I've ever grown it, but that's my experience of rhizomes in general: they tend to be tough ones :)
    I've put up a (short) favorites posts this evening, joining in for a first: http://smallsunnygarden.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-touch-of-gold.html

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    1. Glad your Crape Myrtles and Chilopsis got with the program, and thanks for joining up with a fav!

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  17. That Colutea looks a little like my Acadia dealbata did after the winter of 2013. I'm referring to the cracked bark. I think that one might be a goner, but I'm sending you good karma for the others. I finally had a day outside in the garden today. It was wonderful! I think my Moon carrot met its fate. Too much shade, I believe. Made the decision to take out my Styrax japonica today. It feels like the right decision!

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    1. I did a little thumbnail scratch yesterday and there's definitely green, so I have renewed hope. But damn, yes I remember the sad slow demise of my Acacia that winter. Ugh.

      You know I'm no fan of the Styrax, good for you!

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  18. Loree, Passiflora lutea is deciduous--it'll be back. it's not up here in south Louisiana either.

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    1. All the passifloras are late, late, late emergers; they seem to need to know that real heat has arrived, and don't appear here (western VA) until after our last frost date in late April. Last year the white P. incarnata I put in died back in an unhappy way late in the season, and I won't really believe it's gone forever until Memorial Day. I suppose the real way to guarantee it reappears is to order another one...

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    2. Thanks for that, both of you. I'm a newbie to Passiflora in general but my other two hardy ones that are outside had already begun to leaf out so, well, I worry. And yes! Nell that is a guarantee isn't it?

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  19. The bark on the Colutea looks like it's of a slightly exfoliating nature, rather than cracked from damage. I wouldn't give up hope on it yet. I'm hoping to find Colutea x media (the real one, with orange flowers) at Dancing Oaks on our nursery run. As others have said, don't give up yet. Many things in my garden are at least two weeks early, but others are on time or may even be behind. The early showers make everything else seem later. I did lose a few things this winter: two (supposedly) zone 7 agaves, two hesperaloes, two Astelia 'Red Devil' (out of 4). I think my Ballota pseudodictamnus, Bommeria hispida, and Sophora davidii may also have bit the dust, or mud, as it were. Mostly, though, I've been pleasantly surprised by the survival rate of small seedlings, cuttings, and drastic divisions that I planted late last fall. I finally managed a favorites post again this month: http://practicalplantgeek.blogspot.com/2016/03/march-favorites-round-up.html

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    1. Not giving up! Thank you - and I got a little green when I did the scratch test so there's that. Did you know that Dancing Oaks is where I got my Colutea? It will be interesting to see what they have, and then if you do buy one and it blooms orange...well I'll be jealous!

      I've lost a couple of that Astelia too, I wonder if there's something about it that makes it less virile?

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    2. Yep, that's how I knew to look for it on their website. I'm really hoping I'll get an orange Colutea. If I do, I'll propagate it for you!

      Interesting, because I thought that Astelia was the hardiest one. I was really surprised by one of the two survivors, though. It was a discard from work that I planted in heavy soil next to the dry creek bed, so that soil gets pretty soggy in winter. I'll have to get a few more for that bed.

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  20. It's always a waiting game in spring, isn't it? Good luck with your reluctant plants. I was thrilled this week when I went outside and found my Manfreda Chocolate Chip pushing up new leaves from the center of last year's crown. My source said zone 6, although noone else says anything close. Plant lust says 8a. With an atypical warm winter and a little protection during the coldest months, it seems to have survived out in the open gravel garden!

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    1. Yay for your Manfreda! We do plan to have a way for people like you to track these successes on plant lust - things you're growing that you "shouldn't" be able to. Coming soon! (ish)

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  21. I do the same thing...obsessively checking every day for things that haven't emerged yet. I try my best not to scratch around the soil TOO much...but I usually end up doing it anyway ;-)

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    1. Assisted by a furry friend I'm guessing?

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  22. Mostly now I'm focused on all the tulips coming up. I hope all of your guys come out safe and sound!

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  23. Interesting phenomenon. Surely everything is just a little late this year, and all will be well. I think if the Begonia was a goner, it would have rotted away quickly.

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  24. My fingers are crossed for my Caesalpinia pulcherrima. At the moment it is just a few dead-looking sticks. I am reminding myself that it was a very late bloomer last year, showing absolutely no signs of life until mid-May. I was shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, when it came back like gangbusters and bloomed its beautiful red and orange showstoppers! Good luck with your "maybes" this season!

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