Issue #222, April 23, 2016
Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila help you grow
Perhaps you're looking around and thinking, "It's too late, I can't cut this shrub or divide that perennial that's already started growing." Think again. There may be a prime time to cut or divide plant X or Y but there are no "only" times.
Cutting back a shrub or vine after it begins to grow might cost it some energy -- maybe it will be 10% smaller than it would have otherwise. Dividing a perennial that's begun to reach up may mean breaking some stems. Yet the plant is so much healthier and more attractive as a result of your attention that it's worth risking that loss.
In this issue we make clematis and hellebore stand-in for the whole plant world. We hope these new articles will give you the gumption to cut or divide whatever-it-is whenever-you-can.
Long-lived, stay-put perennials like lenten rose (Helleborus hybrids) are mainstays in the best, easiest perennial gardens. They can grow in one place for many years, remaining healthy and attractive even without renewal-by-division. Yet such a long interval between dig-ups may leave the gardener nervous and unsure. Hellebore Divided is a pictorial how-to for making more of a good thing by dividing that lenten rose.
Green Thumbs Up to the optimism exhibited by anyone who trains a climbing rose.
In Roses Trained we follow the growth of two roses, one trellised and one pilloried, in a salute to the perennial optimism required to train climbing roses.
Green Thumbs Down to clematis wilt, a disease that just can't wait even one week so we can first enjoy the flowers!
In Clematis Wilted we switch gears for a big boo-hiss to clematis wilt disease for its very rude timing.
Even a world class gardener may need a reminder from a frugal English aunt now and then: No reason to buy more of a good plant. Once you have one you can make more. We demonstrate how to turn one clematis vine into many.
When cedars (Virginia junipers) go suddenly from gray-green to burnt sienna, these gardeners pull to the shoulder to see what this Cedar Color Change might mean.
We're told that what we've written so far still leaves questions, so we give it another shot. In Clematis Pruning Reprise, come prune clematis with us. Review the rules, consider the exceptions, see what happens... and earn your license to cut as you wish.
Be forewarned: To make this clarification we had to include a wander into all the dozens of species and Types of Clematis. Take that side trip with us and you'll probably feel the urge to add new plants to your own clematis collection.
When our words and pictures help you or you are empowered by hands-on practice at our free Garden by Janet & Steven workshops. please consider helping us. The two of us created and maintain GardenAtoZ.org as a open resource for the gardening community, a way for individual gardeners to benefit from others' experience and grow as if they had the practice of many lifetimes. Your donations to GardenAtoZ.org go to programming costs, website hosting fees, required hardware updates and the time we must sometimes take to gather, record, test and share the best, most practical advice. Send your check payable to GardenAtoZ to Janet & Steven at 120 Lorberta, Waterford, MI 48328 or donate via Paypal (email to Steve@GardenAtoZ.com from your Paypal account).