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Name: Janet
Merriam, KS (KC area) (Zone 6a)
jkwgardner
Feb 16, 2019 10:12 AM CST
I love brunnera; they grow well at our Arboretum (and Botanical Garden) but I've tried two and haven't had any luck with them. We can have hot summers and cold winters (especially this year). Any suggestions as to how I might grow them and be successful?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Feb 16, 2019 12:15 PM CST
I can't imagine its too cold or hot in Kansas City for Brunnera. Find a spot in the shade, dig in a lot of compost and keep it constantly moist.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 16, 2019 12:35 PM CST
Brunnera enjoyed our wet winters here, but definitely not our harsh and dry summer conditions so eventually lost them.

Got to make adjustments when seasons change, so plant in containers, and move the container into a bright shadier spot during summer time. If you got some rains, it is okay since it does like being on the moist side, but if you got too much torrential forecast, got to protect some more, cover or hide it in a bright area indoors. Then return outside once conditions improve again.

Our very long dry and too hot conditions really took a toll on my Brunnera before unfortunately and coincided with periods of time we were away, so that killed my plant. Sad
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Feb 16, 2019 12:47 PM CST
Kansas City is in Zone 5 - prime Brunnera growing country. And they are growing at the local botanical gardens so obviously will do well if planted in the right spot.

Its too hot in the San Joaquin for them. I never had one until I moved to Reno where they do great. But in the San Joaquin, Tarev is right, they did not survive the long hot summer.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Janet
Merriam, KS (KC area) (Zone 6a)
jkwgardner
Feb 16, 2019 5:12 PM CST
Kansas City is in Zone 6, not 5. And, of course, at the Botanical Gardens, they are pampered. I think I generally pamper my plants and they certainly receive sufficient water when the heavens don't provide it. As for where they were planted, they were in the shade. I want them in the ground, not in containers as I tend to "over love" container plants. But our summers can get really hot so that's difficult for a great many plants here.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Feb 16, 2019 6:47 PM CST
What is really hot? I live in the high desert - by the time daytime temperatures reach 100, mine are in the shade (they get east sun only). But, I did dig in a lot of compost and my yard is on drip so they don't rely on me to remember to water.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Janet
Merriam, KS (KC area) (Zone 6a)
jkwgardner
Feb 16, 2019 7:07 PM CST
My sister used to live in Reno but I never visited there. We can reach high 90's in the KC area and some of the horticulturalists from K-State have said that it's a difficult area in which to garden. And I believe them--having lived as N, E. S, and W as you can live in the USA. One problem is that our soil is clay--but I generally amend it whenever I plant. I've lived in this location long enough that when I plant something new, I know automatically if I've planted in that spot before. If it's good dirt, yes; if clay, no.
The other problem I might have had is that I tried two new varieties of brunnera--so perhaps they weren't as hardy as some of the older versions. Maybe I need to go with the older varieties.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Feb 16, 2019 8:03 PM CST
Our "soil" is alkaline sand with hardpan mixed in. When we first moved here, I filled my 90 gallon garbage can every week for months with lumps of hardpan - I was terrified the bottom of the can would fall out when the truck picked it up. Hilarious! My favorite garden tool is a San Angelo digging spike.

I now know I must grow my Azaleas in pots because of alkaline creep. But, the Brunnera do great. Everything I have read about them says shade but appreciates morning sun and must have consistently moist, rich, organic soil.

My only suggestion is try again.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
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Leftwood
Feb 16, 2019 9:28 PM CST
Yes, I would try older varieties, and this is a good generalization for most perennials, that new ones tend to be more finicky because they are often not really bred with the whole plant in mind (vigor, pest and disease resistance, tolerances for adverse conditons, etc.), rather, it is for looks or smell or whatever will sell the plant. So perhaps if you like variegation, go for the green types, instead of Looking Glass and the like. Even Jack Frost would be a better choice, in my opinion.

I see a difficulty in your overall planting method that makes it more difficult for any plant: you are only amending the soil in the immediate area of the plant, rather than making a garden to plant in. These pockets of "good soil" just don't have all the goodness that comes with a garden, even if it is the same soil. Soil flora and fauna, water drainage, water absorption, water retention, root growth (and thus plant growth) are all affected in a negative ways. Not that it necessarily prevents success, but your dreams just can't be as good as they could be otherwise.

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Feb 16, 2019 9:33 PM CST
Good points Rick!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 16, 2019 11:01 PM CST
I've been growing a Jack Frost Brunnera in 1/2 shade in average soil in the same spot for about 12 years. It's so happy where it is, I never mess with it.
Name: Janet
Merriam, KS (KC area) (Zone 6a)
jkwgardner
Feb 17, 2019 8:31 AM CST
My sister used to live in Reno but I never visited there. We can reach high 90's in the KC area and some of the horticulturalists from K-State have said that it's a difficult area in which to garden. And I believe them--having lived as N, E. S, and W as you can live in the USA. One problem is that our soil is clay--but I generally amend it whenever I plant. I've lived in this location long enough that when I plant something new, I know automatically if I've planted in that spot before. If it's good dirt, yes; if clay, no.
The other problem I might have had is that I tried two new varieties of brunnera--so perhaps they weren't as hardy as some of the older versions. Maybe I need to go with the older varieties.
Name: Janet
Merriam, KS (KC area) (Zone 6a)
jkwgardner
Feb 17, 2019 8:37 AM CST
Thanks for the information; I will try an older variety, possibly Jack Frost. As for Rick's comment about not amending an entire garden, it's difficult when the gardens already exist with plants in them. I think it's fine to create a new garden and amend it in its entirety but that's not always an option unless you want to destroy all the plants that already exist. I have really good luck with most plants and will be on the JOCO Master Gardeners' In-House garden tour this fall. So I must be doing something right!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Feb 17, 2019 9:11 AM CST
When other plants are already in situ then mulching with organic material is a good way to improve clay - spread an inch or two a year over the whole planting area. Amending just the planting hole used to be recommended but now is not because it can have an adverse effect on water movement through the soil and also as it breaks down results in sinking, causing a water-collecting depression around the plant. Perhaps more of an issue when planting trees than smaller perennials but just something to bear in mind.

'Jack Frost' did not do well here but I suspect because it was planted in a spot that tended to be too hot and dry in summer without good access to irrigation rather than because of the extreme cold in winter.
Name: Janet
Merriam, KS (KC area) (Zone 6a)
jkwgardner
Feb 17, 2019 12:06 PM CST
When I created a new garden area in my front yard after trying for many years to get grass to grow in that spot, I put down 280 lbs. of compost before planting a single plant. It was an area that needed some fill due to having the sidewalk replaced so I figured compost was the best bet. I'm blessed because we have Missouri Organic who creates and sells compost at a reasonable price so that's an additional bonus. Wow, too hot in Ontario? I would have never guessed.

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