Let’s face it, plant growers lie. To be fair, it’s more like incomplete truths than all out lies, but no nursery is going to label a plant with “Under ideal circumstances this plant is great, but most of the time it really just sucks”. So you’re left with the task of discovering your plant’s dirty little secrets the hard way: after you’ve already had it in the ground for a good long time and it’s already caused a lot of problems.
Take my grapes, for instance. In that mass of greenery in the picture above are actually four different varieties. However, you are pretty much seeing only one. The dark green leaves are from my Corinth grape. Under those “ideal circumstances” it produces massive quantities of clusters of tiny, sweet grapes. Sadly, it turns out it is highly susceptible to powdery mildew (which our climate just so happens to be conducive to growing) and so the grapes don’t develop, the vines smell like wet dog, and then the mildew spreads to my other vines. Not only that, but this thing is super aggressive and it just doesn’t play nice with the other grapes. This winter it is going to be repurposed into fire wood and compost, and I’m starting over with something else.
Another plant I’m totally regretting planting is “Olallieberry”. It never fruited, and then strangled my Ebony King blackberry, which promptly caused it to be unceremoniously dug up. Two years later we are still pulling suckers out of the ground. Did I mention it’s thorny? Yeah. Fun.
This last weekend’s task, now that it has finally cooled off enough to work outside, was to dig out a couple of scented geraniums. They are lovely, smell great, can be used to make a wonderful tasting jelly, and have loads of pretty flowers that the bees absolutely love. So why dig them up? They are monstrously huge. Like take over my entire yard, can’t find trees I knew I planted kind of huge. The nursery I got them from claimed that they would get 4-5 feet wide and 3-4 feet tall. Lies, all lies. I looked up information on them (after they had been in the ground a couple of years) and found that they could spread upwards of 20 feet!
In this case, the plan was to dig them up and plop them into large pots to keep them a little more tame. Both required a massive haircut down to a small stump, then an equal amount of trimming of the roots. Once they were free of the ground, they could be put into the new pots I purchased for them and covered with fresh potting soil. One went smoothly, the other not so much. It had grown in the craziest manner with both stems and roots going all over the place. I almost think I should have started over with a fresh new plant. But we got it in, and now we just wait for them to fill out again. By next spring it should look like they were always there.
The Old Man often grumbles about the fact that he’s had to move/remove/replace many plants in the yard. But he doesn’t mind using the excuse of a hard day’s work for having a nice, cold beer by evening. I don’t mind it, either, because I share that nice, cold beer with him!