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Q&A Topics
Direct seeding of perennials
Planting spring-flowering bulbs
Spring planting of bulbs and perennials
Deadheading Canna lily
Winterizing Veronica
Rotting on lilies
Hardiness of Allium millennium
Planting and caring for clematis
Transplanting annuals from cell packs
Over-wintering tulip geraniums
Over-wintering potted hostas and day lilies outside
Growing hardy tree peonies
Selecting tree peonies for Zone 3
Timing to transplant peonies
Transplanting established peonies
Pruning and protecting hardy roses
Discolouring on bee balm
Winterizing tender roses
Growing Allium bulbs
Replanting potted lily bulbs
Over-wintering canna lily
Timing to re-plant canna lilies
Adding native plants to the garden
Replanting daffodils
Moving a fern peony
Yellowing leaves on calla lily
Selecting a small rose bush

Identifying plants from photographs
Persicaria polymorpha
Campanula glomerata
Anemone cylindrica

Question: Direct seeding of perennials

I’ve direct-seeded quite a few perennials in the last couple of days and I was wondering if they should be watered or not. I understand that it’s not good for them to germinate at this time of year. Several years ago, I planted some coneflower seeds in the fall and that worked well but I can’t remember if I watered them. This is an effort to get some plants going without spending a lot of money and some seeds were saved from a local garden in 2020 while others were from packets. I’m not sure how suitable some of the following plants would be for this type of sowing but am keeping my fingers crossed:

Wild bee balm, rainbow rock cress (Aubretia), white chrysanthemums, purple chrysanthemums, purple coneflower (Echinacea), milkweed, butterfly milkweed, Joe Pye weed, gaillardia, pink, yellow and red yarrow, lamb’s ears, tickseed, sweet William (Dianthus barbatus ‘Nigricans’).

Buzzing Gardens (Seeds from Bees Matter): Lance layered coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), dense blazing star (Liatris spicata), golden tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria), sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Watering requirements after direct seeding depend on the seeding time. After fall seeding, watering is usually not necessary as germination of the seeds will not occur until next spring. Fall rain and snow that melts before the ground freezes ensure the good seed soil contact needed for germination. In spring, melting snow will provide the humidity and water needed for the seeds to germinate. The “Planting and Seeding Guide” published on the website of the native plant nursery Prairie Originals recommends watering once or twice a week for six to eight weeks if conditions are dry after seeding in spring. Information on this topic can also be seen on the website for Prairie Flora Nursery. See links below.

Direct seeding in fall is a good option for native plants. It can also be an option for non-native plants, particularly those that require a cold period (stratification) in order to germinate.

However, the requirements for good seed germination can vary considerably from seed to seed. Aside from knowing the best time for direct sowing and whether stratification is necessary, knowing if the seed needs to be covered with soil, or exposed to light, is important. Tricks, like soaking the seed and scarifying (scratching the surface) the seed, may also help to optimize germination, especially when seeds are started indoors. Some seeds have a very long germination time, while others may not. Yet other seeds are best started indoors for good results. A seed starting mat can be used to optimize the germination temperature. One of the links below gives requirements for starting native seeds indoors. Seed packages often provide seed starting information and special tips, but not always. It is best to do an information search of each specific seed.

The following anecdotal information regarding direct seeding of some of the plants listed in your question is based on Debbie Innes’s and Diana Dhaliwal’s personal experience as well as from online sources.

For pink, yellow, and red yarrow (Achillea cvs), direct sowing in fall works in a milder climate but may not work in our climate. The recommendation, according to an online source, is to direct seed in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. The plants do well in our climate and many gardeners, like Diana, may be willing to share rooted stems.

Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) are best seeded in spring after the last frost date. Debbie recommends cutting the seed heads off to avoid excessive self-seeding. As lamb’s ears spread, many a gardener may be willing to share rooted stems.

Diana emphasizes that chrysanthemums take a long time to develop flowers (up to 16 weeks after starting seeds). Therefore, they need to be started indoors to have a chance to flower, if at all, in our climate.

A butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) planted as a small seedling is doing well in Debbie’s garden.

Aubretia (Aubretia cvs) and sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) are both zone 4 plants and therefore borderline hardy in Winnipeg. Debbie reports starting an entire package of aubretia seeds with only one plant growing. Three varieties of dianthus germinated and grew well. Some are on their third year of bloom. Diana also reports that sweet William is doing surprisingly well in her garden. Both gardeners have started sweet William seeds indoors.

Debbie purchased Dianthus barbatus ‘Nigricans’ as a good-sized plant that surprisingly did not bloom this year.

Direct seeding perennials into the garden is an economical and rewarding way to grow plants when the specific seed-starting requirements are taken into account. It can also require patience as some native and non-native plants can take up to three years to achieve any size due to our short growing season. Mixing in some seedlings and small plants for some faster blooms can be done economically by purchasing plants at plant sales like our MMGA Spring Plant Sale.


Question: Planting spring-flowering bulbs

I have a variety of spring flowering bulbs I didn’t get around to plant in the fall (Zamin allium, lily tree, crocus, blue bells, dwarf Iris, daffodil, and hyacinth). I overwintered them in the garage (heated, 15 degrees C) in cardboard boxes in organic matter, above floor level. Upon inspection, some of the bulbs seem viable still. With the snow all gone (Winnipeg, April 26) but still below zero at night, can they be planted now or should I wait until night time temperatures are above zero?

Buying bulbs is not inexpensive therefore it is definitely worth a try to still keep them going even if success is not guaranteed. Storing them in cardboard boxes in organic matter is a good way to store bulbs but the temperature in your garage is too warm. Check all the bulbs thoroughly and plant, according to the instructions below, only those that are still plump and firm and show no soft spots or mold, or feel papery and dried out. Plant those which show already green tips the same way.

Crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, blue bells, and dwarf iris are all early spring flowering bulbs which need a cold period of about 2-7 degrees C (35-45 degrees F) for about 12 to 15 weeks in order to flower. This is the reason why they are typically planted in fall. Would you have discovered your forgotten treasures a bit earlier you could have mimicked the cold period by putting the loose bulbs in a paper bag in the fridge for the appropriate time and then planted them outdoors as soon as the soil is workable. Now that it is too late for this option plant the bulbs outside as soon as the ground is workable at their appropriate depth indicated on the label. Don’t expect your bulbs to bloom though, but if they put out leaves these will sustain the bulbs and the chance is that they will flower next spring. Luckily, you have chosen bulbs that reliably rebloom and multiply except for the hyacinths who tend to fade away after a few years.

Proceed the same with allium ‘Zamin’. Allium ‘Zamin’ blooms in early summer and therefore will have more time to grow roots which will increase the likelihood that it will still flower. However, the plants may not look as spectacular as expected in the first growing season.

Tree lilies or Orientpet lilies, are very tall hybrid lilies – crosses of oriental and Trumpet/Aurelian lilies. According to the North American Lily Society all lilies can be planted in fall or spring given that they have been overwintered properly. In your case the packaging was ideal, but the temperature too warm. If the bulbs look viable it is certainly worth the try to also plant them as soon as the soil is workable. Or, as it may still take a while for the soil to thaw to the recommended planting depth for Orientpet lilies, at least 20 cm (8 inches), you may consider planting them now in a container inside and later transplant them in to the garden when the soil is not frozen anymore.

Question: Spring planting of bulbs and perennials

I received an order of bulbs and perennials today from a west coast nursery with instructions to plant them as soon as possible. Is it too soon to do this in this Zone 3 climate? (April 2021)

The following plants are hardy perennials in our area and can be planted now:
Hemerocallis; Saponaria; Trollius; Echinacea; Astilbe; Aquilegia; all the Lilies. Hibiscus is a perennial but borderline hardy for our climate. If you have any microclimate in your garden that would be the recommended place to plant it.

The following are not hardy to our area and are treated as annuals but their bulbs can be saved indoors and be restarted the following summer: Tigridia; Anemone De Caen; Acidenthere; Ismene.

In late summer with any chance of frost in the forecast, these plants should be put indoors. Lessen watering and let their leaves die down as this will re-nourish their bulbs. The bulbs can be removed from the container and saved for replanting or they can be left in the growing container with no water applied and, hence, being put into a dormancy state. The following spring, begin watering and the soil can be refreshed.

Question: Deadheading Canna plants

How do you deadhead Canna plants correctly?

It is recommended to deadhead cannas for aesthetic purposes by cutting back the spent bloom and stem to where it emerges from the leaf so the plant doesn’t set seed. The attached photo shows the stem, which is about five inches long, and where to cut it back.

This will allow the plant to put its energy into additional blooms. Using this method gives multiple bloom success over the summer and is suggested for additional blooms rather than collecting its seed. Once the growing season has finished, and your Canna has been touched with frost, cut the entire plant down and dig up the rhizomes in the fall to store for pre-planting indoors in March. They are relatively easy to grow if cleaned and stored in a medium, perlite or vermiculite for example, to protect them from drying out.

Question: How to winterize Veronica

Could you please guide me through how to winterize Veronica in Winnipeg?

Veronica can be cut to ground level in the fall or in the spring. The prior year’s wood is dead. New growth comes up as new shoots each spring. Veronica (sunny border blue) can be cut back some in the fall and some in the spring as leaving several plants standing through the winter for the birds to perch on gives some lovely winter interest to the garden.

For the shorter Veronicas, like Red Fox, they can be left standing through the winter to hold the snow and then cut them to the ground in spring. When cutting, trim as close to the ground as possible.

This article on Veronica varieties is in one of the MMGA Newsletters.  Click Here 

Question: Cause of rotting on lilies

Please see the photos of two lilies below. They have turned black and are rotting about one-third of the way down the stem. The bulb is still good – I transplanted it today to find out. Do you have any idea what the problem is?

The diagnosis is that botrytis is the problem. Botrytis is a form of fungus (also called grey mould) that attacks plants. Asiatic, orientpets, trumpets, and martagon lilies are all attacked. Botrytis attacks other plants, too, ie. peonies, when the weather is warm and humid, to cool and mild. It is difficult to prevent it, but if you catch it early enough, all should be fine. It is very important to have good air movement between the plants and healthy plants that can resist this disease. Our 2021 spring this year was problematic. The weather went from very cool to very warm.

The best way to get rid of it is to prune off the infected part of the plants (disinfect pruners with bleach (10%) that you don’t pass the problem onto other plants. If you cut the lilies down to below the problem, your lilies should be fine. The recommendation is to dispose of the infected material in the garbage – do not compost.

Botrytis cinerea, is a fungal disease that travels quickly through gardens, especially during damp, cool to mild weather. Disease symptoms appear as grayish colored soft, mushy spots on leaves, stems, flowers and on produce. Spots may become covered with a coating of gray fungus spores, especially if humidity is high. Fruit or plants shrivel and rot and often develop black, stone-like sclerotia — a compact mass of hardened fungal filaments — under rotted parts.

Question: Hardiness of Allium millennium 

I’m reading a gardening catalogue that states that Allium millenium is a Zone 6 to 9 plant. Is that correct? I thought it was hardy enough for our Zone 3 climate.

There are many varieties of Allium all growing in many different growing zones. On researching the Allium millenium it is definitely a Zone 5 to 9 and blooms in the mid-summer. The hardy Alliums for our growing zone bloom earlier, more in late spring. The recommendation would be to find Allium that have our Zone 3 rating or lower. This way you are guaranteed to successfully grow the correct variety.

The time to plant the varieties of Allium that grow here successfully is in the autumn along with tulips, daffodils and many more spring-blooming bulbs.

Question: Planting and caring for clematis

I received two clematis for Mother’s Day. I live in South Central Manitoba, in MacGregor. I am putting them in the ground and training them to climb on my new trellis. Can you provide tips on plant care?

Clematis require a minimum of six hours of sunshine for them to produce the flowers. They enjoy having a cool root area and in order to plant with this requirement, annuals, perennials, or shrubs are planted close by to offer shade for the clematis roots. The top of the vine requires the sun. Clematis enjoy soil with good drainage and a neutral soil pH, which is why in most of Manitoba they grow very well. When planting, dig a deep, generous hole so that the crown of the plant can be three to four inches below soil level. This protects the dormant buds from future injury, either mechanical or from the weather.  Provide support immediately. A strong trellis is usually required. There are some bush varieties that will climb well on an obelisk support. It is not recommended to amend the soil on planting. Fertilize with a low nitrogen fertilizer to promote root and flower growth rather than green leaves.

If your clematis have been acclimatized to the outdoors already you can plant now. If it has been only in the house it is suggested you put it outside in a protected shady place for a couple of hours each day increasing the times until about half the day. Then you can plant the clematis into its permanent spot in your garden.

Question: Transplanting annuals from cell packs

I am new to gardening in Winnipeg. Bought a house with nice backyard,planted dianthus, petunias, and impatiens into pots. Did some research, they are properly watered, fertilized and in the right sun spot. Started to deadhead spent flowers (removing underlying seed pod area also). Bought them all from those small “cells”. After deadheading, the plant looks pretty bare. How long do I need for them to start to grow and mature again? They look so nice in their cells, but after cutting the spent flowers, well, you know. I probably just have to be patient and keep up the basic caring?

You have certainly done the correct transplanting method for having successful growing annuals in containers by removing the flowers. By doing so, all the nutrients will go into the roots for the plant to adjust to the shock of transplanting from their cozy cell pack homes. Throughout the summer,  continue to deadhead the petunias and dianthus. Impatiens do not require deadheading as the plans self-deadhead. A big bonus for the gardener! For continued blooms throughout the summer water with a mild fertilizer solution that has a high middle number, ie. 10-52-10. The container will have ultra bloom or a similar wording. To make it easier for yourself, use a mild solution, about one-quarter strength into the water, at every third or fourth watering. Also, being in containers, they will require diligent monitoring to have the plants watered properly especially in the heat we are experiencing. Sometimes twice a day is required.

Question:  Over-wintering tulip geraniums

My three tulip geranium plants are in the sunroom for the winter. All three plants developed bumps on the leaves before Christmas. I cannot see any bugs in them but could it be aphids or spider mites causing this? In the sunroom my lemon tree had aphids recently. I am washing that tree with soap and water regularly. I am worried that the aphids spread to all the leaves on the tulip geraniums and that the leaves will die on the geranium and the plants will die. The other regular geraniums in the sunroom do not have these bumps to date. Please advise what to do. [See photograph below.]

The diagnosis for this problem on your geranium is oedema or edema, not caused by any disease but rather with the roots absorbing water, a physiological problem caused by the environment in which the plants are grown. The roots are absorbing the water faster than the leaves are transpiring the moisture out. It can be on the undersides as well as on top of the leaves, along the stems and on the petioles. As you have on your plant, this causes blisters which bloat and burst then causing a corky texture until the area of the leaf heals or it will yellow and drop off. The lack of expelling the moisture from the leaves is caused by less light inside, or cool cloudy weather when outside, and can be somewhat improved by good air circulation by spacing the plants further apart, keeping the foliage dry, having well-draining soil, and not overwatering. Some geranium plants are more susceptible to this problem.

Question: Over-wintering potted hostas and day lilies outside

I would be so grateful if you are able to answer a question. I am in Winnipeg and just discovered I inadvertently left some hostas and day lilies out of the ground in pots in my backyard (which were newly acquired and I was in the midst of transplanting in the fall). Being distracted with a busy work schedule, I forgot they had not gotten into the ground and just realized this today. The ground is too frozen now to dig. Assuming they are not already dead, will they survive the winter in their pots if brought into an unheated garage? I also have access to a heated garage which is maintained at about 4 degrees C. if that would be better. Any advice you can offer would be deeply appreciated as I would be heartbroken to lose these plants.

– When did you last water the potted daylilies and hostas? Do you recall whether the nursery containers were watered thoroughly when you last attended to them?
– Were the pots located in an area where they would have received moisture from either rainfall or melting snow?
– Were the pots sitting on top of soil in a garden bed (that would be beneficial because it would have resulted in some moisture at the base of the pot)? or on a hard surface such as a patio or sidewalk? (that’s not as ideal because any moisture on pavement runs off or melts away quickly)

Daylilies and hostas are winter hardy plants. There are many gardeners who don’t get around to planting everything in fall. Hardy plants in nursery containers can be clustered together in groups in late fall — generally in a protected area that receives plenty of snow cover – heeled into a bit of soil (or not), and covered with a layer of shredded leaves for winter protection. Come spring, they begin leafing out and can be easily transplanted into the soil once it is warm.

The most important factor is that plants in nursery containers go into the winter well-watered. If the root balls of your now-dormant plants had adequate moisture for their survival prior to freezing temperatures, then cluster the plants together and shovel snow on top, covering them completely.

When potted perennials are overwintered in an unheated garage, they are brought into the garage prior to the soil freezing and they are well-watered prior to going dormant.

The recommendation would be to cover the pots now completely with snow and leave them outdoors for the winter. In spring, when temperatures start to go above zero and the soil thaws, water the plants thoroughly. Even if part of the root system of some of the plants died, the bits that survived will probably be resilient.

Question: Growing hardy tree peonies

Which, if any, tree peonies might be hardy in Southern Manitoba?

Regarding growing tree peonies here in southern Manitoba, the ones that are suggested are – Chojuraki, Howki, Hana Kisoi (I have had that one for at least 20 years, and it comes back year after year), Renkaku, Shima Nishiki, Yoshinogawa (all of which are Japanese tree peonies), and Kinkaku (photo below) and Kinshi which are Chinese tree peonies. I have also started four tree peonies from seed obtained from the Canadian Peony Society. The first one flowered this year, a deep magenta Rockii seedling with even deeper flares inside the flower. It took about four years from seed to flower. Which shows that tree peonies will thrive here in the Winnipeg weather. As well, the Rockii peonies that are sold as Moutan Gansu grow here. None of these tree peonies are covered in the winter.
The suggestion would be that you might like to log onto the Canadian Peony Society website – they have a great deal of information on the herbaceous, tree, and Itoh peonies, which might interest you.

Question: Selecting tree peonies for Zone 3

I was interested in trying a tree peony but wondered if you know how successful they are in our zone, especially given their high price tag! Also, is it true that it’s better to plant these in the fall?

They are successful in our Zone 3, once they are established. When one is planted (and they can be planted at any time during the summer if they’re not bare root, and they usually come in a box) soil is mounded up around the graft and covered with leaves for the winter, with a box on top. Oak leaves are the best, because they don’t get all wet and matted during the winter. After that first year, they can be on their own. If, however, you order it from a nursery and it comes bare root, then it’s usually shipped in the fall, and planted then. If it comes in the spring bare root, pot it up and then transplant it into the garden in the fall.

It is assumed you are referring to a true tree peony and not an Itoh peony, which is hardier due to its tree peony x herbaceous peony parentage. In warmer zones, tree peonies grow into tall shrubs (and are not all that attractive, except when in bloom). In Manitoba, however, it’s likely they will die back at least to the snow line. Itohs are a much better choice, as they flower just as beautifully.

As with all peonies, planting in the fall is better if the peony is bareroot or being transplanted in the garden. Otherwise, anytime is fine.

Question: Timing to transplant peonies

Is it too late (early October) to transplant peonies? I have about four large plants which I’d like to move – couldn’t get to it sooner. I have transplanted other ones in past years anywhere from mid-July to September and they all survived. But it is a bit late so I don’t want to chance losing them.

October is definitely not too late to transplant peonies. Actually, this is the best time to transplant them, and most peony nurseries won’t send their plants out until mid-October. I myself have planted peonies in a mix of snow and soil and they came up just fine! And I’ve left peonies in the box they arrived in the fall until the next summer (by mistake), and they had little pink shoots and white roots and I planted them in July and they flowered in August, and then they flowered in the early summer every year after that.

Plant your peonies and enjoy them. Also, if while you’re digging you can’t get the whole root out (they sometimes grow several feet down), that’s find too. As long as you have part of the root and the pink/pale eyes, they should be good to plant. As well, don’t plant the eyes deeper than 2″ from the soil level, or they may not flower.

Question: Transplanting peonies

My Dad was wondering if it would be too early to transplant a peony in April. They have a double white peony that used to do very well where it was but in the last couple of years it has barely produced any blooms.

The recommendation for transplanting peonies is to do so late in the summer after they have finished blooming. The rule is plants that bloom in spring should be transplanted/divided in late summer, and those plants that bloom during the summer and autumn should be transplanted/divided in spring. It is unusual that a peony that once bloomed very well does not do so anymore. There could be a few factors: is there more shade in the area? Peonies require a minimum of six hours of full sunshine. Or has the root been covered more with soil or mulch? Peony roots enjoy being planted close to the top of the soil and not buried too deeply. Possibly over the years soil/mulch has built up around the roots. Or has the area surrounding the peony been fertilized with a high nitrogen fertilizer ie. lawn food? Such a fertilizer would put all the nourishment into the leaves of a peony and into the formation of bloom buds, hence affecting the plant to bloom. Nonetheless, if none of these factors apply to your dad’s peony, the plant could be transplanted this spring but not until around mid-May when the ground has warmed. Having the ground warm allows the plant’s roots to have a better chance to acclimatize and survive.

Question: Pruning and protecting hardy roses

I have hardy roses I bought from the garden centre this summer. Several of them are 24 inches high and I have a climbing rose that has grown to reach the roof of my pergola. How do I prune and protect these plants this winter?

Shrub rose – Therese Bugnet
Hardy Rose – Grootendorst pink
Hardy rose- Alexander Mackenzie
Climbing Rose – John Cabot

Therese Bugnet is a hardy rose bred here in Canada, Alexander Mackenzie is of the Explorer series, as is John Cabot. And the Grootendorst roses are rugosa roses, and are very hardy as well. Therefore, I would say do not cut these roses back, other than John Cabot, which grows fairly tall, and I would suspect that is the one that was labelled as a climbing rose. If it is taller than four feet right now, you could cut it back to two feet, but in any case, I wouldn’t bother. I wouldn’t worry about winter either. I think that you purchased a nice selection of hardy roses. They should do very well for you next summer.

Question: Discolouring on bee balm

The flowers on my bee balm bloomed as usual and I deadheaded them as the season progressed. But over the last two weeks, the leaves on the bee balm are not looking healthy. The dark green colour is becoming lighter green and yellow, and the “veins” are turning a rusty brown colour. Some of the lower leaves are turning brown and drying up. However, there are healthy dark green leaves appearing above these sickly looking leaves. Would you have any ideas on what is happening, what I should do about this now, and how I could prevent it next year?

Monarda or bee balm is always very susceptible to downy mildew on the leaves which eventually cause them to shrivel up and die. Have you seen any powdery mildew on the leaves which manifest as a greyish colour on them? When you mention the ‘rusty brown colour’ of the vein, this could be a type of fungal disease which can arise as the temperatures lower and there is more humidity overnight.

The recommendation would be to continue removing these affected leaves and throw them in the garbage and not compost them. Clean up any debris on the ground that could harbour any disease spores. With new green leaves still growing it shows the plant is still healthy and growing well. When watering this plant, do so in the morning and at the base of the plant, not over the leaves. Also, good air circulation helps Monarda avoid succumbing to any powdery mildew or fungal issues. Any fertilizing should not be done past the end of August. Also, in mid-October, cut down the plant to approximately six inches above the ground and put it into the trash.

Question: Winterizing tender roses 

I have an outstanding hybrid tea rose I would like to keep alive (Francis Meilland). It is in a very large pot and has grown high. What would you recommend? Cut it back drastically and transplant into small pot and bring inside? I have no cool place in the basement. Or dig out the roots and keep them in the basement fridge? Or try to take cuttings off the stems and root them? Or transplant the rose to a semi-sheltered spot in my yard? Can you advise me?

As your rose requires cold dormancy, and will need to remain outside, a fridge or cold room would not be advisable. The recommendations would be to cut back the rose to about a foot high and remove it from the container it is growing in. Transplant it into a semi-sheltered area in your yard. Be sure that the graft, where the main stem was grafted onto the root, this is the thickened roundish portion, is buried at least four inches below the soil level. If that is not possible, mound clean soil up around the transplanted rose, again, to protect the graft. Or a trench can be dug and the entire container and plant can be buried in the trench and covered with at least four inches of soil plus oak leaves, as they do not compact as much as other leaf varieties, or flax straw placed on top to protect and catch the snow. This is an interesting link referring to winterizing tender roses through this method the “Minnesota Tip”:

Winterizing Roses Using the “Minnesota Tip”

In the spring, the rose, or rose in its container, whichever method you decide to implement, can be reintroduced into your garden area of your choice, either replanting in a container again, or from the trench method, using the same rose in the same container.

Interesting information about Meilland roses, with Peace roses belonging to the family of Meilland roses.

M. Meilland hybridized roses and created the Peace Rose which all rose growers know as a magnificent Hybrid tea rose. When he sent the budwood roses to North America they were simply labeled as #3-35-40. He sent these new hybrids to North American rose growers to keep it safe from the war in 1938/9 on the last plane to leave Paris before France fell. The owner of Stokes seeds received a number of these plants and after the war it was named Peace rose and a slightly brighter, in colour version, was developed in Chicago and called Chicago Peace. The Peace rose was given the name ‘Peace’ on the same day that Berlin fell to the Allies.

Question: Growing Allium bulbs

This is my first year growing Allium bulbs. They are beautiful. Now that they are almost finished blooming, what am I supposed to do with them? Any advice would be great.

Once the flowers on your Allium are finished blooming, cut the stems and head off at the bottom of the stem. Do not remove any leaves as it is the leaves that will produce food for the bulb so that it will be a healthy plant and bloom again for you next spring. Or you can leave the stems with head on for some spherical tall interest in your flower bed. This method of cutting the spent bloom stems also applies to other spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils.

Question: Replanting potted lily bulbs

I have a pot in my house that has lilies that I planted in the spring. A Costco special! The lilies were wonderful and I would like to keep the bulbs for another try. Can I leave them in the pot they are in or do I have to take them out and store them someplace? Putting out side is not an option as we live on the Canadian Shield almost on the Manitoba/Ontario border. All my plants have to be grown in pots. Our garage is not heated in the winter and our crawl space under the house might be too warm plus there is the chance of “critters”. Can I store them in my fridge? If so, how and for how long? I have cut them back with about 10 inches of stems. Some are starting to turn brown so I know it is time to do something with them.

If the lily is an asiatic, which I suspect it is being familiar with what Costco sold this spring, simply leave the bulb in the pot over winter in your fridge, but only if it is not a self-defrosting fridge. If the fridge is self-defrosting, it will suck all of the moisture out of the bulb and the soil. If the garage is unheated, then you could probably pack the pot in styrofoam pellets and put it in the garage, but not on the concrete floor. Using this method the temperature should not go below -10c in the garage.

Question: Over-wintering canna lily

I wintered this Canna lily, potted it, and not sure why it grew the way it did in the pot. Should I repot as it is at the edge of pot and separate the small on. Will the lower leaves dry off?

Your Canna is looking very good and healthy and there is nothing to concern yourself with as it is growing now. Evidently there were two shoots on the tuber that you planted and hence the two growing stems. They will both be fine and no problem with them growing close to the edge of the container. Keep it in the house until there is no risk of frost in the forecast, usually the May long weekend or afterwards. Acclimatize it before you plant it outside. This means putting it into the shade in a no wind area for a few days before moving it slowly into a sunnier location, and finally planting the Canna into its permanent summer spot.

Question: Timing to re-plant canna lilies

Last year was my first year planting canna lilies. I have stored them over the winter and I am wondering when I can plant them? Ideally I would like to just put them into the pots they will be in for the summer vs starting in one pot and transplanting. I have read they can go into the ground at the same time you put in tomatoes. What do you recommend?

Canna lilies can be planted directly into the container that they will be growing in all summer and the ideal time would be the May long weekend. The downside of planting them with this method is that it will take them a longer time to grow and provide you with the summer specimen that you expect to see from a canna. The recommendation would be to pre-plant them in a container in mid-April, keeping them inside, and then plant them into the summer container, again at the May long weekend. It is a bit more work but the results are definitely more rewarding. Either way, though, your canna lilies will grow.

If your decision is to start them indoors, once planted the containers need to be kept at a warm temperature as the tuber needs warmth to initiate growth of the plant. A room temperature of approximately 70f would be ideal. When the soil is too cool the growth would not be as quick and if the soil is cold and wet could cause the tuber to rot. Once the leaves emerge, the plant will need high indoor sun exposure. When it is time to plant the canna outside, remember to acclimatize the plant before fully leaving it outside. This means that the plant should be put in the shade only for a couple of hours per day, increasing that time over a one-week period, and slowly moving it into a full-sun exposure.

Question: Adding native plants to the garden

I have attended many workshops on native plants identifying good ones to use in the garden and the benefits. What I find when talking to people is they want to know how to incorporate native plants into an existing garden that has non-natives in the garden already. It takes a certain type of gardener to plant only native plants. What suggestions would you have?

Native prairie plants fit very well in a non-native perennial garden. This makes for a very diverse garden. The recommendation would be when a perennial did not survive through the winter, put in a native plant. One can grow annuals, herbs, vegetables, perennials and native plants all together. It is a feast for the birds, bees and butterflies. Keep in mind that in nurtured soil native plants could be bigger than stated. This is because they grow where they can in nature and survive the seasons without help from gardeners. Native plants do not need extra fertilizer and water. That being said it is best to baby the young plants as you do any plant in its first year.
Plant propagation should be considered. Be aware of native plants that grow by rhizones. They have the potential to spread quickly. As native prairie plants can readily spread by seed, simply deadhead them after they flower. If more plants are desired let a few seed heads remain on the plant. If you are growing poppies, sea holly and globe thistle it would be recommended to always deadhead them. Incorporating native plants into your existing perennials beds will attract and give you enjoyment in looking for all the butterflies.

Question: Replanting daffodils

I heard on the radio that you answer questions. Thank you! I received some daffodils that were dug up before they bloomed. They have 10 inch leaves. How do I, or do I, plant them now?

The recommendation would be to plant them now digging a six-inch deep hole and replanting the daffodils, bulb with leaves. I trust that both are in good condition and have not dried out. I doubt that they will bloom this year as they are stressed and would recommend that if there are flower stems showing, remove them. By doing this method all the growing energy goes into the roots hence nourishing the bulb for the following year’s blooms. Do not cut off the leaves as they too nourish the bulb. When planting sprinkle some bone meal into the planting hole, put the bulb in and some of the soil and water. Then put the remainder of the soil on top and water well again.

Question: Moving a fern peony

When is the best time to move a fern peony?

The best time to move a fern leaf peony would be in August. As these peonies bloom early in the spring, it is recommended that they are not moved in the spring before blooming as this would stress the plant and forfeit its blooms in that year. Mid-September would be the latest to move with August being more favourable.

Question: Yellowing leaves on calla lily

I have a calla lily that seems to be stressed. The leaves are turning yellow and turning up at the tips. Can you tell me what is causing this? I have just brought plant indoors as a squirrel was burying acorns in the pot!

Calla lilies, like many of the summer-blooming bulbs in our climate, need to rest or go into a dormant state. With the lessening of sunlight hours these plants are in effect ‘shutting down’. The recommendation is to continue giving it water, with no fertilizer, in lesser amounts. This continues to inform the plant it is time to be dormant. You can cut off the leaves as they dry, and much like tulips, the green leaves nourish the bulb for next year. When all the leaves dry up you can store the bulb/s in some peat moss in a brown paper bag in your fridge until next April when you can plant them into a container and enjoy them next summer. During the winter monitor the moisture in the bag and be sure it is not too dry (if so sprinkle with a few drops of water) or too moist which will cause the bulbs to rot.

Question: Selecting a small rose bush

I would appreciate it if someone could advise me of a small rose bush perennial that would get morning sun (east) against our concrete foundation. I have had no luck previously with black spots, aphids, etc. killing my rose bushes. I see there is a Parkland and Canadian Explorer series that are improved to deal with these problems. I live in a private condo home and residents drive by this area of my home on entering our condo village. I would like a small one due to winds and condo restrictions of 36-40 inches and other plantings restricting width so 24-36 H & the same wide is what I am searching for.

Also I have had ant problems for which I have used Ant Out recommended by a St Mary’s garden shop and also homemade cornstarch and icing sugar which never got to the queen ant. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Roses need some sun to flower well. They will manage with less, just flower less. Overall, roses are difficult to grow well here, they may just survive and not really do a lot. Also, foundations often don’t get much rain. It is likely alkali near your foundation and roses don’t really mind that. It is worth a try but this is not the best position for a rose. Roses do best in an open full sun position in a bed that only has roses in it. They don’t like competition. Heavy clay is fine for them as they like to be fed well and stay a bit moist. Your conditions are not ideal but may be adequate.

There are as you suggest the Parkland and Canadian Explorer series of roses. Most of the Morden roses such as Morden Blush, Morden Ruby, and Morden Fireglow are small as is Winnipeg Parks. The Canadian Explorer series tend to be larger but Henry Hudson and Simon Fraser are small. There is a new series of hardy for Zone 3 roses called the Artist Series, Oscar Peterson, Campfire, Emily Carr, Bill Reid and Felix Leclerc. You haven’t mentioned what colour you want. Many roses are partially frozen in our winters but if these are bought on their own roots (not grafts) then even if they are frozen down to the ground the same rose will come back. It is often hard to grow a rose to its full potential so some of the bigger ones may never get to that size.

There is quite a variety of these hardy roses in the box stores garden centres in Winnipeg and without naming names some for as little as $10 each. The recommendation is to go on the internet and decide which colour and style you like, then make a list and go around looking for it.

Aphids should be washed off with a hose jet and will likely be eaten by the new aggressive ladybugs. When choosing a rose look for disease resistance then you will have less trouble with black spot. Put some bone meal to encourage root development into the hole you dig and water regularly in the first year or two to help the rose establish. After winter when your rose has leafed out prune out the dead wood but be patient as some of the apparently dead branches will recover. It is unusual to have a problem with size as it is hard for even hardy roses to survive in our climate but if a rose grows too big then you can always prune it.

If the standard ant bait hasn’t worked for you , you could try Ant Nematodes which are little worms that infect and kill ant larvae. It is important that you get them before the use by date as fresh as possible and buying on-line seems to be cheaper and more available than in the local garden centres many of whom haven’t heard of this biological control.

Identifying plants from photographs

Question: Identifying Persicaria polymorpha
What is the name of the tall plant featured in the photograph below?

The plant is Persicaria polymorpha which grows to a tall approximately six feet plant is very striking in the garden and is becoming more in demand now in local gardens. Its stately white plumes are similar to Astilbe plants but is not of the same family.

Question: Identifying Campanula glomerata
Attached is a mystery plant that grew in our garden I have tried to
identify with internet searches to no avail. Hoping you can help.

The plant you have is Campanula glomerata or clustered bellflower. It is an old-fashioned plant that was in style many years ago and is quite prolific but not considered invasive. Enjoy it!

Question: Identifying Anemone cylindrica
I am not sure if you can help on this. I am wondering what type of wild plant this is. I see it around the Grand Rapids area and further south but don’t know what it is. It usually grows around gravel surfaces and sometimes next to juniper. I wonder how it looks too before it puffs. Any ideas on it would be greatly appreciated.

The plant is Anemone cylindrica and it belongs to the buttercup family. Here is a link explaining the plant: