Crow & Cry Part II: Grumpy’s Readers Reveal Plant Winners and Losers for 2017
See what worked and what flopped for folks this year.
Once more, it’s time for Grumpy’s faithful readers to share their proudest achievements and heart-breaking failures with trying new plants this year. Because this blog is read across the galaxy, submissions come from far and wide. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to grow all the plants here, but chances are you can.
That’s certainly the case with our first plant, ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia, sent in by Debbie Turner. ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia is a cross between an old-fashioned angel-wing begonia and wax begonia. It has shiny green leaves, red or pink flowers, blooms from spring until frost, forms a tidy mound about 12-18 inches tall, and does well in the ground or containers. It’s not fussy, but prefers morning sun and light, afternoon shade. In cold winter areas, it’s an annual, but comes back in USDA Zones 9-10.
Dawn Marie from Wisconsin likes ‘Rio’ mandevilla vine (above) just as much as Grumpy. Even though it won’t survive winter where she lives (it will in USDA Zones 9-10), it blooms continuously from spring until frost and comes in red, pink, or white. “I planted ‘Rio’ in a variety of places – part sun, full sun, low water, daily water, mixed baskets, and large pots,” she says. “Besides the stunning color, this is one tough plant.” Grumpy has one growing on his mailbox. Butterflies like it, but bees do not.
Some plants surprise you just by living. Oklahoman Kristi Phillips Plumlee says the performance of her purple ‘Jackmanii’ clematis vine, above, proves it. Rather than buy an expensive plant from a specialist, she admits, “I bought it as a root in a body bag, something I wouldn’t normally do. The little thing has done so well.” Adapted to USDA Zones 4-9, clematis is a popular mailbox vine too. It likes a sunny spot with its roots well-mulched to keep them moist and cool.
Cheap plants can be good plants, agrees KhristinehyphenJones. She bought gladiolus from the Dollar Store and “they all bloomed in amazing, different colors.” Great for cut flowers, gladiolus likes sun and well-drained soil. In USDA Zones 7-10, you can leave them in the ground over winter. North of that, you have to dig and store them in fall.
Grumpy enjoys legions of followers across the Pond. Catherine Dorrington Mallon sent the photo above to us from Great Britain. She tried fennel and dahlias for the first time this year. “They did brilliant,” she states. Apparently, so did her hydrangeas. Here in the States, fennel is one of the easier annual herbs you plant in spring. Dahlias like sun and fertile, well-drained soil. They put on their best show in fall and are perennial in USDA Zone 8.
Ashley Grace’s hydrangeas just up and died for no apparent reason. Try, try again! Lainey Marshall says her Carolina jessamine, cleyera, and Shasta daisies all died after the dogs peed on them. Miserable curs! Carolyn Deadmon’s calla lilies gave her lots of green leaves, but no flowers, even though she did all the right things. That’s gardening for you, Carolyn! Lori Grace Sargent says her lavender disappointed. Yours and mine both, Lori! And Fan Disharoon says deer ate almost everything she planted this year. I asked the deer about this. They said your garden tasted Fan-tastic!