Before or After?

Frost is a four letter word to a gardener.  (Ok.  Not really, but you know what I mean.)

There are many tender plants that need to be lifted BEFORE frost.

There are also plants that must be “bitten” by frost,

and then taken inside AFTER the first frost.

This count-down is not quite as dramatic as the “Countdown to 32″/freezing

that I blogged about last fall, but it is an important time for bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers.

I finally wrote a BEFORE and an AFTER list inside the cover of my gardening journal.

Here is my ‘rule of thumb”.  (Gold Nugget is what this was called when I taught biology.)

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If mostly water (turgor) holds up the plant, it needs to be bitten and wilted down by Mr. Frost.

Also: Does the plant look “done” for the season? Did it bloom weeks ago and is the foliage wilting down? DONE.

I know this is too simplistic. What it means is,  if you cut down plants with juicy stems you will be hauling in a lot of water.  The plant needs to bring in nutrients and drain its own water out to start dormancy.

Also, frost seals the tissues to prevent rot.   Think of it as a “cold cauterizing.”

When the time is right .   Dig up the bulbs, corms, tubers or rhizomes.

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Clean off the soil, wash, dry and store in labeled bags with dry peat moss.

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Here are MY lists for ZONE 7.

BEFORE:  Callas/Zantedeschias (Hot Chocolate can stay out, but bring one in as your stock plant just in case),  Acidantheras,  Glodiolas ( babies and mamas)

AFTER: Elephant Ears/Calocasias,  Dahlias,  Tuberoses (babies only)

Your lists will be different based on your HARDINESS ZONE.

I always err on the side of caution and bring in some of each of my special plants to use as stock plants.

Wet winters can be as bad as cold ones because roots rot.

 

POP QUIZ

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Thomas Edison Dahlia

1.  Before  or  After?

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Hot Chocolate Calla

2. Before or After?

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Priscilla Gladiola

3.  Before or After?

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Mojito Elephant Ear

4. Before or After?

 

(Answers =1 dahlias/after , 2 callas/before, 3 glads/before, 4 elephant ears/after)

FOLLOW the FLOWER to FROST.

 

 

 

 

Glads Flop

I love gladiolas but…

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They are boring before they bloom.

They bloom for only a short time.

They fall over when it rains.

When they are done blooming they are messy.

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I have tried really hard to accommodate them this year.

In their defense, I did make the mistake of planting them on a hill.

I did plant them in a row, when I usually do groupings.

So these were my mistakes.

I did do some things right.

I staggered the planting times by two weeks.

They are deer resistant, so they have not been snacked on like my hostas and daylilies.

I chose colors that I thought would complement each other.

I also developed a new colorful way of staking them using giant pick-up sticks painted green with recycled glass balls on the ends, to prevent impalement as I weed them.

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I planted groups of Acidanthera/Gladiolus callianthus on the ends of the rows to extend bloom time. (These have not bloomed, yet.)

But in the end, they were a flop.

Figuratively and literally.

Another disappointment was the colors in a package named ‘Mardi Gras’.

What should have been a festive mix turned out to be two colors, fuschia and white.  Clunk!

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The only reasons I haven’t written the company yet are I lost the package and the whites had purple stamens. I love purple, so they are keepers.

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They other package of ¬†‘Pricilla’ was lovely.

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I will dig these corms up and haul them in for the winter,

but there will be a whole new plan next year.

Follow the FLOWER’s flops.