ANNUALS and PERENNIALS

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We help gardeners by answering questions, contact us at ask@mgmanitoba.com

Question:
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 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?

Answer:
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 4 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 4 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:
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.

Answer:
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:
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?

Answer:
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 are hardier due to their tree peony x herbaceous peony parentage. In warmer zones tree peonies grow into tall shrubs, (and not all that attractive, except when in bloom) however in Manitoba it’s likely they will die back at least to the snow line. Itoh’s are a much better choice, the flower just as beautiful.
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:
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.

Answer:
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:
My Dad was wondering if it would be to early to transplant a peony now 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.

Answer:
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 6 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:
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?

Answer:
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:
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?

Answer:
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:
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?

Answer:
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 and increasing that time over a one-week period and slowly moving it into a full-sun exposure.

Question:
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?

Answer:
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: When is the best time to move a fern peony?

Answer:
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. Being mid-September would be the latest to move with August being more favourable.

Question:
While bedding plant shopping, this plant kept on catching my eye. There were no others like it, and no tag, the clerk said it was a geranium. Can you identify it, then I can find out what conditions it like. Also, is it an annual?

Answer:
Yes, it is a perennial geranium. Unless, we know more about it from a tag that would have been on it, it is difficult to say whether it would be hardy here in Manitoba. Perennial geraniums can require either a sun or shade location. This too would have been noted on the tag. You could go back to the nursery where you saw it and ask them to see if they have their order forms that would tell them the variety.

Question:
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.

Answer:
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 invasive. Enjoy it!

Question:
I have a calla lily that seems to be stressed. The leaves seem to be 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!

Answer:
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:
I would appreciate 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.

Answer:
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, 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.