The zombies might be next.
Hope is a thing with leaves, but when all the leaves drop, is there still hope? Apparently, yes. I often get questions like, “My tree didn’t leaf out this spring. Do trees sometimes skip a year of growing? If I leave it alone, will it leaf out again next spring?”
Grumpy’s typical response is, “Yeah, plants successfully skip a year of growing about as often as a person skips a year of breathing.” In other words, the dang thing’s dead. Replace it.
Thus, imagine my shock upon receiving this email from my former colleague at Southern Living, Steve Millburg. IT’S A MIRACLE!!!
“Last October,” he writes, “the construction company building the gigantic house next door moved several nandinas and a rose-of-Sharon that were in our backyard along the property line with our permission. They didn't do a very good job. The root balls were about a foot wide and six inches deep (literally) for 5- to 6-foot bushes, and the workers replanted the shrubs in the wrong places. I moved them to where they were supposed to go and tried to keep them watered. I missed a day of watering for the rose-of-Sharon and all the leaves wilted and fell off. (The nandinas, of course, carried on as if nothing had happened.) I kept watering the rose-of-Sharon almost daily for a few weeks. It showed no signs of life, but the branches were still supple, so I held out hope.
WATCH: Pruning Tips from the Grumpy Gardener
“This spring and into the summer, the rose-of-Sharon remained bare. Over the July 4 weekend, my wife noticed that it was, to all appearances, still dead. So this past Saturday, July 8, she took a pair of loppers out to the backyard, intending to cut it off at the ground.
“Sometime during that week, it had resurrected itself. Not just one or two twigs; the whole bush had fully leafed out.
“I'm thinking of posting this on Facebook, but before I do I want to get set up to charge admission to the string of pilgrims that I expect to line up at our backyard, hoping that just a touch of the miracle plant will cure whatever ails them. In the meantime, I thought I thought you might be interested. Apparently, this bush not only has the power to bring itself back from the dead, but also can read my wife's mind so that it can perform that revivification just in time to avoid being turned into mulch.
“I don't know whether to be awed or scared.”
Both, Steve. Awed at the power and will of some plants like rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) to live against all odds. Scared that this plant has come back as either a zombie or white walker. You should immediately arm yourself in case the worst happens. Lock your doors. Board up your windows. Go find some dragonglass.