Losing lobelia

I am feeling the love from other gardeners this week.

First, I have to admit I am once again on a killing spree; several of my recently purchased plants are not doing well. Not at all. (More on this sad topic, complete with confessional Before and After documentation, to come.)

You might remember the beautiful lobelia I wrote about a mere three weeks ago?

It now looks like this:


So, as I noticed all the stems going brown and the blooms falling off, I went on iVillage GardenWeb  for some advice. A few key directives emerged: soak it well if it’s dried out and give it a good haircut. (Cut back one-fourth of its growth, I was told. I got a little, uh, overly enthusiastic and sort of cut off almost everything brown. It was bothering me. Kind of like plucking your eyebrows. Just stop.) Other conflicting advice I’ve gotten: put it in the shade (I had actually moved it from this spot onto the shady porch when it started browning, which had no positive affect) AND put it in the sun. The nursery folks had originally told me it liked shade… so I went with this “dapply” hook on the south side of the house. But other advisers (and online sources) voted heartily for “sun.”

It must be noted, too, that someone on the GardenWeb thread also reported her blue lobelia is done every year by July, no matter what she does.

So much advice, so little success. The more I get into this, the more each plant — and even variety of plant — seems like a little puzzle. How much sun? What time-of-day sun? What kind of soil? How much shade? How much water? How much food? How much pinching, pruning, primping? And then… there’s your specific zone and yard and weather to factor in. It’s a lot to think about. I kind of like it. (Truth be told, it reminds of the year I taught at Charlestown High School in Boston. Are plants like moody, random teenagers? Hmmm.)

In regards to the lobelia, I am trying all of the above. What the hell.

But back to my first point. I had two very inspiring and heart-warming interactions with other gardeners this week. I am feeling the flower fellowship!

First, this nice woman who sold me all my Coleus at the Rietta Flea Market this summer gave me two little lobelia plants — one blue, one white — for FREE when I relayed the above tale of woe. I had bought a couple small blue lobelia from her a few weeks ago, to put in with the white flowers I got from the nursery, so I guess she was sort of invested in the success of my poor planter. (Or maybe I am just a good customer.)

In any case, she gave me these:

new victims

I haven’t done anything with them yet. Kinda scared to. (This magnanimous gardener did also warn me that it is the end of the season, so I’m not to expect much.)

The other cool thing that happened this week is that I met a woman down the street with a really bright and lush little flower garden. I was just driving by — and I always crane at her sunny little yard — when I saw her out in it for the first time. So I stopped and rolled down the window to say hello and praise her tableau… and next thing you know, I was getting tips and she was offering to come up to my place with some plants when she “divides” this fall. She’s an artist, it turns out. No big surprise.

Yes, please. Free plants! Free advice! Commiserating with people who know much more than I do and share the same ridiculous passion… all good stuff.


About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
This entry was posted in Keep hope alive, Wallowing in death and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Losing lobelia

  1. My favorite place for plant information is the Missouri Botanical Garden (MoBot). You can find a good entry to this site at http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Search.asp. This page lets you search for a specific plant, such as Lobelia (under the Genus pull down). Then you pick which Lobelia and you get a page with lots of good information. Under what I think is your Lobelia is lists mid-summer die back as the most significant problem (they just don’t like really hot weather).

    Good Gardening.

  2. plantkiller says:

    Thanks Diana! I am doing a lot of surfing these days, looking for help and information on a number of plants! This site looks really helpful. And you know I need all the advice I can get!

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