Blog post: STRESS TEST: Very informative; thanks for sharing

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This thread is in reply to a blog post by JuneOntario entitled "STRESS TEST".
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 10, 2016 12:27 PM CST
Hi June, your post was so informative on plants that tolerate dry conditions. Thank you for sharing. I live in South Central Pennsylvania and our climate has changed over the past 3 decades from one with hot wet summers to one with hot summers with an almost invariable dry spell that lasts from 3 weeks to 2 months...we're moving in the direction of an almost Mediterranean climate it seems. I am desperately trying to find perennials that will tolerate these dry spells without supplemental watering. Your list is invaluable! I am especially intrigued by the foxgloves. I happen to love the looks of D. ferruginia, but always assumed these are plants that need a lot of water, damp ground. So that's one I'm definitely ordering seeds for!

Thanks, good gardening, and hope some major rain soon falls your way. Annie
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Cat Lover Birds Cactus and Succulents Butterflies
Dragonflies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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JuneOntario
Aug 11, 2016 6:52 AM CST
Hi Annie! I also recommend Phlomis for dry, sunny conditions. Have you tried any? Phlomis tuberosa is hardy in open ground even to Zone 4, and in your Zone you can also grow Phlomis russelliana in the open. Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem Sage) is hardy in Zone 6 if grown against a south wall and burlap-wrapped for winter (which I used to do when I lived in Chadds Ford, PA, and I had more energy). Also, a big plus: PA deer don't like to eat Phlomis leaves.

I'm hoping for a thunderstorm tonight or tomorrow.

Keep on blogging!

June
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 11, 2016 10:00 AM CST
I have been "eyeing up" Phlomis for years but wasn't sure it would do well here. Now I know it will! I thank you again *hugs*.

I hope you get rain. I love looking at the BBC Garden shows and the gardens there are so lovely...and they have no idea how lucky they are with their cool wet climate year round. Everybody complains! But they've got delphiniums taller than my head! I'm lucky if I get a 2 foot plant and it invariably expires by July. *lol*

Water is the critical factor, I realize that...I've been in nursery greenhouses where the temps have to be near 100F, but as long as plants are kept wet, they grow like mad.

I don't know about you, but I seem to have a lot more success growing even perennials from seed than from buying plants. I found an online source called Specialty Perennials; they have a pretty good selection of seeds, sometimes even odd/rare stuff. Prices are extremely cheap and I've got nothing but good results.

Very very hot and humid here today; they're calling for thunderstorms this afternoon/evening.

Best wishes, Annie
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Cat Lover Birds Cactus and Succulents Butterflies
Dragonflies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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JuneOntario
Aug 11, 2016 2:44 PM CST
My success rate with seeds is about the same as with perennials bought in pots. I have come to the conclusion that plants grown in peat-based potting soil have trouble getting established in the garden. After planting, in dry weather the peat wicks moisture upwards and the plant's roots dry out, and in wet weather the peat holds too much moisture and the roots rot. If you can find a nursery that uses real dirt in their pots you may have better luck!
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 11, 2016 3:23 PM CST
I agree completely! That peat-based potting compost is great as long as you keep the plant heavily watered and fed. It's been my observation that once you plant it in regular garden soil, it dries out and it's nearly impossible to re-wet it. When it dries (even a little) it shrinks and allows air to dry out the plant roots...the roots never reach out to expand beyond the confines of the root ball from the pot. I've had some success with knocking (shrubs) or gently washing (perennials) most of the potting soil off before I plant, but you have to be careful not to damage the roots too badly.

When I see local plant sales of locally grown plants, I stock up. I've had the best success with those! These plants are growing in the (relatively) same soil as my garden, and the same climate conditions. Most don't even know they've been moved.

Seeds seem to be the best way, once you get past germination problems. I'll tell you, you can get brain freeze reading germination instructions. *LOL* I bought foxglove seeds and the instructions were so complicated...a period of cold, of warmth, of cold, specific temps, etc. I followed the instructions carefully and nothing. Two packets never germinated. In disgust, I tossed the seeds from remaining third packet onto some dirt beside my clematis and lo and behold....a huge patch of baby foxglove seedlings! I've come to realize nature really doesn't go thru a lot of trouble...just toss the seeds and see what happens.

Annie
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Cat Lover Birds Cactus and Succulents Butterflies
Dragonflies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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JuneOntario
Aug 11, 2016 5:29 PM CST
Yup, throwing the seeds on the ground works for me, and for the plants too. I let a lot of my perennials go to seed, I don't cut the stalks down until the following spring, and I am rewarded with thickets of seedlings. Some perennials, though, do a bit too well at the self-seeding business. I rigorously dead-head globe thistles, for example.
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 12, 2016 8:01 AM CST
I don't mind self-seeding (it's usually not too hard to scrape out the seedlings), but I am getting a bit wary of miniature comfrey which is starting to "run" and is pretty vigorous in damp soil. It's a nice groundcover (smothers out weeds beautifully), and the worst thing about it is that it is so hard for ME to tear it out. I always think "maybe I can transplant some of it...." instead of just getting rid of the excess. So it's more "emotionally invasive" that actually physically invasive... Hilarious!

When my foxgloves set seed this year, I let them stand and I have a whole new patch of seedlings starting up. I also cut some of the stems with ripe seeds and laid them in other spots in the garden...hoping to see seedlings there too.
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Cat Lover Birds Cactus and Succulents Butterflies
Dragonflies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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JuneOntario
Aug 12, 2016 7:29 PM CST
Damp soil...I have forgotten what that looks like! Only a few drops of rain fell yesterday, and so far there has been no sign of the thunderstorms that were promised today.

I'm not familiar with miniature comfrey, but then anything "miniature" soon disappears in my jungle. I really should thin out the thickets of foxgloves, salvias, coneflowers, hollyhocks, balloon flowers, etc.

Salvia transsylvania (or should that be transsylvatica?) is another drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, self-seeder that I used to grow in PA and grow here as well. It isn't particularly showy, but being tall it is useful at the back of the flowerbed. If I remember rightly, I got the seeds from the Rock Garden Society.
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 13, 2016 3:01 PM CST
Miniature comfrey is not a delicate little thing...its flowers are dainty though. It flowers early spring (late April/early May here in Zone 6), ivory colored, held well above the foilage, looks very much like comfrey. The leaves are deep green and fairly coarse early in the season, very coarse and heavy by late summer, very very dark green...maybe 10 inches. It's a great groundcover in dryish shade, but as I said, can run in damp soil.

Yes, it's very dry here too. We had a bad dry spell in late July, but that broke, but now we're in a very bad heat wave and ...same as you...none of the promised thunderstorms yet. We heard rumbles yesterday, but nothing fell. The heat and humidity are incredible; our thermometer right now reads 99.5 degrees (5 pm.), but the humidity is so high that the "Heat Index" says it feels like 113-115 F. It's better in the shade, but not by much!

I just finished watching an old BBC Gardener's World and now I want great swathes of daffodils *LOL*. So, I think I'll get a cold drink and the catalogs and start seeing what I might order.

Will look up salvia trans.... Oh, and I found a strange little flowering plant in the front bed, that I think hitched a ride on an ornamental grass I planted last year. It looks like it might be a kind of vervain...will need to look that up.

Doing the rain dance for you! Annie
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Cat Lover Birds Cactus and Succulents Butterflies
Dragonflies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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JuneOntario
Aug 13, 2016 3:42 PM CST
Thanks, Annie. Your rain dance worked! Heavy showers began just before noon, and have continued all afternoon. Humidity is now so high, it feels like a sauna out there. I'm sitting indoors and enjoying my cold drink: fresh-squeezed orange juice (I keep the oranges in the refrigerator) with a splash of Aperol.
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
Image
LysmachiaMoon
Aug 14, 2016 7:27 AM CST
HA! It worked here too, we got a brief but heavy downpour. Not enough to really soak the ground, but it "laid the dust" and everything looks a bit refreshed. SOOOOOO Humid here this morning (Sunday)...
The end is nothing, the journey is all.

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