Saturday, August 12, 2006

To Bloom or Not To Bloom...

That is the question this gardener has pondered for the past few months. What is it that causes a plant to do so well, producing a reasonable amount of blooms during its youth, only to rebel (much like a teenager?) and stubbornly fail to produce one measly bud or blossom during its adolescence? Neither my hydrangea or rhododendron bloomed this year and I haven't a clue why.

I'm not what you would call a sophisticated gardener. I know what I like and I either dig a hole and plop the plant in the ground or I pay a landscaper an outrageous amount of money to do the same. Both of these shrubs were planted by two separate landscaping crews, so at least the blame in that particular part of the process does not involve me.

So what gives? Too much shade? The southeast portion of the front yard has more shade than it did a few years ago, getting only a couple of hours of sun in the morning.

Too much water? The rhoddy is on a small bank that gets some run-off from the neighbor's yard, but it isn't boggy (however, we do have a lot of clay in Nebraska). The hydrangea is frequently watered by hand, but certainly isn't getting too much.

Too hot during the summer, in spite of the shade? The hydrangea is fairly close to the A/C unit and tends to get hit with the hot air that comes off the fan.

Not enough fertilizer? (Or any, says she, guiltily hanging her head over her negligence.)

I don't really even mind if the hydrangea flowers are pink or blue. All I want is a huge, bushy shrub with profuse blooms like the ones Mom and Bill get on theirs (but of course, they live on the Oregon coast where everything looks absolutely gorgeous!).

photo courtesy of Bill Sachs

And to top it off, my stella de oros failed to bloom! These are hardy, need-no-pampering-or-attention perennials that ALWAYS bloom. Not this year. They produced buds, but before they had a chance to bloom the bud and stem turned brown and died. The plant looked fine, but something caused the blooms to fail. I'm pretty sure the problem with the lilies lies in their current location. When we dug the bed in the front yard, I thought it was getting quite a bit of sun. But the crabapple has branched out so much so that the flower bed in question gets very little direct sunlight. Definitely need to relocate these lilies to a sunnier home. (Make note to self for fall project.)

As far as the other two troublemakers, either I do more research

(perfect activity for those long, cold wintry months) or I pack up all our belongings and drag my hubby to the Pacific Northwest. Gee, I wonder what he'd vote for. ;)

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