Foxgloves and Tiger Lillies, Oh My!

Dear Garden Problem Lady

53

I saved the seeds from this spring’s foxgloves and now wonder whether I should have planted them the minute they were available from their pods. Is now, September, too late?

Let’s hope not. As you know, Foxgloves are biennial, meaning they take one year to germinate into seedlings that grow strong, and only the following year do they bloom, seed and die. September soil temperatures around 70 degrees F are still favorable. Sprinkle seeds on the soil surface and wait a few weeks for germination. Before winter sets in you’ll need to thin the strongest seedlings and space them about 20 inches apart. If they don’t make it over the coming winter, next spring buy more foxglove plants that are in bud. Plant their seeds earlier or let the plants self-sow. Timing is tricky because in our boiling hot summers foxglove seedlings die without a good deal of shade. Once you find the right timing for the seeds, you can have foxgloves that bloom every year — no longer biennially!

This summer my Tiger Lilies were sensational. I now have a very large number of their black seeds — around 100. When should I plant them?

Strange to tell, probably never. When these seeds fall to the ground they germinate well, but take several years to develop the large bulb they need to build that long, tough stem, sustain life and produce flowers. Your existing plants will survive well. If you need more, next year buy new ones that have already developed.

In June I planted a small, new Clematis plant against a fence. The instructions for Clematis were clear. It likes “full sun” and yet “cool feet”. A month later our tree company finally came to cut down two large overgrown trees. The whole back garden now has much less shade. Blazing sun began to hit the Clematis. I swiftly planted two tall, wide Dahlias in front of it, and watered the new Dahlias and new Clematis frequently. The clematis is still alive but has grown not at all. Nothing is climbing up the fence. Now it is September. The sun is less scorching. Should I leave it, hoping it will adapt?

This really is a dilemma. Your clematis may not survive its sun shock. But clematis does not like to be messed with once it has rooted, even if it is struggling where it is. If yours even comes up next spring, you must shade its roots and “feet” more. Transplant it only as a last resort to a place with low-down shade, but still plenty of sun on its upper stems.

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