More Flowering Quince, or No?

Garden Problem Lady

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In April I realized my Flowering Quince, which burst suddenly into glorious peachy-orange blooms, is the biggest star of my garden. It has lived in a pot for at least 4 years and is total perfection. I should have more of it, shouldn’t I?

First, where? It needs full sun. Do you have enough sun — and space? Second, what will two potted flowering Quinces look like – or three? Third, this glorious shrub blooms for three weeks before turning nondescript and straggly for the rest of the year. You wisely put it in a pot to control its growth, and now, as always, you must cut it back so it can survive in the pot. It’s true many gardeners make the opposite mistake and order fewer plants than are needed to make a decent show. But why mess with perfection? More would be less.

Since January, all over Capitol Hill, I’ve been noticing and coveting the beautiful pansies — but my husband says I can’t plant any in our garden now because they’re over.

Yes, they are. Beloved annuals for cool months, pansies just can’t survive temperatures much higher than 75’ Fahrenheit. 

I’ve just learned that foxgloves are biennial plants. What precisely does this mean? I feel a bit blind-sided, and need to understand my newly bought foxglove plants.

Annuals complete their life cycle in one year. Perennials live many years. (Perennial flowers and leaves may die to the ground after frost, but their roots survive the winter.) Biennial plants live for two years. The first year they grow leaves, stems and roots, then go dormant for the winter. In the second year the biennial will flower, produce seeds, and die.

But despair not. You can make foxgloves last by planting their seeds every year. The seeds are prolific – every single individual foxglove has a seedpod filled with hundreds of seeds. When the seedpods are about to open, tip the seeds into an envelope or jar. To germinate properly, these seeds need cold weather, so scatter them in late autumn, or else late January before sunshine warms the earth. Each germinated seed will become a full plant that will live 2 years. In order to be certain that you have foxgloves blooming every year, just collect and plant the seeds every year.

How much shade do foxgloves need?

The hotter the summers, the more shade foxgloves need. Foxgloves are hardy in gardening zones 4 through 10. They can survive in full sun in zone 3, but in DC, where summer days can reach 95’F for days, they are happiest in midday and afternoon shade.

The Capitol Hill Garden Club will reconvene in September. Until then please consult our website at capitolhillgardenclub.org.