September "In The Grow" - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

September “In The Grow”

Q: I would like to plant some “surprise lilies,” the pink ones that seem to pop out of the ground late in the summer. I’ve looked through all the nursery catalogs and garden stores, but cannot find any. Do you know where I could purchase some? – Anne Bodine, Covington, Ind.

A: They can be hard to find because they aren’t carried by many companies and because they have so many common names! The foliage emerges in the spring, dies back, and beautiful pink, lily-like flowers emerge in August. They’re called surprise lilies, magic lilies, resurrection lilies, naked ladies and Lycoris squamigera. They are available from Park Seed (1-800-845-3369).

Q: I have a Wisteria vine that I started by our front porch a year ago. The vine has climbed up a porch rail and post quite beautifully, but so far, no flowers. I planted it because I love the floral bloom I saw when I visited the East years ago. I recently read that if you trim off some of the new growth, the end will be forced to grow longer, which I did. There are lots of leaves on the older part, but still few at the trailing end. What must I do to force the bloom? And should I give it an acid type of fertilizer? – Mrs. Ray Askins, Plymouth, Ind.

A: Wisterias pass through an annoying, juvenile, non-blooming phase, and vines started from seed may require 15 years to bloom! Seven years is more likely, however. Encourage them to bloom with proper fertilization and pruning. Too much shade, water, fertilization, or pruning will produce lustrous foliage at the expense of flower production. Excess nitrogen causes leafy growth, so apply a light dose of a balanced low-analysis fertilizer, such as 6-10-4 in early summer.

Since flower buds are formed the year before bloom, it is important not to prune in late summer. Prune back vigorous shoots in early summer. Flower buds are produced on spurs that grow from the side shoots, so do not drastically prune the side shoots. Make sure the plants are in full sun, and be patient. The flowers will be worth waiting for!

Q: I need to move some 2-year-old foxglove. When is the best time? – Theresa App, Greencastle, Ind.

A: Many species of foxglove are biennials, which means they only grow for two years, so there wouldn’t be anything to move after this season. (They’re reliable self-seeders, so may give the appearance of being perennial.) Others are perennials and are best moved in spring when the foliage is only up an inch or so. Fall is another option, and the plants should be moved when temperatures have cooled and ground moisture is replenished by fall rains, but not so late that the plant can’t root in before winter. That’s a short time frame in Indiana! I always wait until spring if I can. Water regularly for the next year and apply a layer of mulch.

Q: I am not much of a gardener, but in reference to the tiger lilies question by Steven A. Cain: We have lilies we have always called “tiger lilies” for 60 years. However, on investigating, I have found that they are called “meadow lily” (also known as wild yellow or field or Canada lily). The flowers are yellow to orange-red with reddish-brown dots. Their stems are 2 feet to 5 feet long. I got my information from “The Nature Library of Wild Flowers,” page 14, by Neltje Blanchan, published by Doubleday in 1926. -Marquis E. Brandon, Peru, Ind.

A: You claim not to be much of a gardener, but you’d be a great reference librarian. It’s true there is a lily (Lilium canadense) that fits the description. “Hardy Herbaceous Perennials,” by Jelitto and Schacht, says they’re not easy to cultivate and require an acidic, moist, well-drained soil such as a sand-peat-loam mix with a gravelly substrate.

In this particular case, I could actually ask the writer for further information, which led me to believe they were daylilies. Thanks and enjoy your lilies!


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