Ask a Question forum: Why won't my flowers grow?

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Jan 5, 2017 3:07 PM CST
Dear expert gardener,
I have tried many different flowers to include, but not limited to clematis, hydrangeas, roses and mums next to my historic black lamp post made from some kind of heavy metal/steel. I also have vinca growing in that bed but I carefully removed the ground covering around the lamp post because I thought it might stangle the flowers. Do you think the metal/steel lamp post has anything to do with why I cannot grow flowers next to it? Would you have any other suggestions of different flowers that I could try? The bed gets morning sun with no shade.
Many thanks for your thoughts.
Cindy Dare, PA
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

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Jan 5, 2017 3:17 PM CST
Hi Cindy, Welcome!
I live way south in Florida so I can't offer advice on what the problem may be with why your plants/flowers are not surviving but I wouldn't think it has anything to do with the metal lamp post. More than likely it has something to do with the content of the soil around the lamp post. Hopefully someone with more knowledge of your part of the country will come along with advice and suggestions of what might grow well in that location.

I think we have quite a few members from Pa and the Mid Atlantic region. You should pop into our Mid Atlantic Gardening Forum (which includes the areas of Maryland, Delaware, DC, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and parts of New York) and introduce yourself!
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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Jan 5, 2017 9:17 PM CST
Is that post embedded in concrete? Some plants don't like the alkalinity of soil next to concrete.
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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Jan 6, 2017 6:28 AM CST
HI & welcome! Dogs peeing? Road salt? Weed'n'feed being used on adjacent lawn?

Some thoughts regarding the plants you mentioned:
Clematis can be hard to establish if the roots are baking. Try to put the roots in the shade of another plant.

Hydrangeas probably needed more shade.

Roses - hybrid teas? Notoriously fussy. Look for an heirloom.

Mums - the ones they sell in the fall are not usually stalwart, long-lived garden plants.
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Name: Steve Claggett
Portland Orygun (Zone 8a)
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Jan 6, 2017 7:38 AM CST
woofie said:Is that post embedded in concrete? Some plants don't like the alkalinity of soil next to concrete.

I agree

Labor intensive but you could remove and replace the soil around the post. Get one of those soil test kits and check alkalinity..

Spectamur agendo
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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Jan 6, 2017 7:04 PM CST
I would not have thought that enough could rust away from wrought iron or steel to harm soil.
Concrete, maybe.

Is there good drainage around that lamppost?
How deep is the soil where the plants won't grow?
What happens of you start something hardy like zinnias somewhere else and transplant it into the "dead zone"?

Because I like digging, I was going to suggest removing most of soil near the post and putting it somewhere it won;t harm much and will be flushed by rain.
Cover the subsoil with plastic?
Build a small raised bed around the lamppost and bring in good soil.

Maybe paint the concrete with something impervious.
Maybe re-paint the lamppost, especially if it has lots of lead solder.

Maybe just check the pH.

I suppose that excessive fertilizers could have been laid down over the years and be slow to leach away.

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