grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moving Plants = Killing Plants

This is my new favorite flower of the week. It's the Cosmos Bright Lights that I grew from seed. Yay me! I love the vibrant orange color. I planted a whole pack of seeds but this is the only one that came up. And now, the bad news...
It turns out that the all the seeds I planted that actually bloomed were very random and what I ended up with is clusters of flowers, taller ones in front of shorter ones and bunches of stuff in some spots while other spots are just bare. This morning I decided to just start moving stuff to spread things out a bit and make it look more balanced. I moved this Cosmos, half of the white Cleome and the Rudbeckia Goldilocks that was being hidden behind the giant Zinna.

The picture above is the Cleome that I left in the same spot and below is the poor section of Cleome that I moved this morning. Somebody call a plant doctor!!I'm guessing this thing will die but I'll keep watering it and hope for the best. The Rudbeckia Goldilocks looks about as bad plus I completely broke one of the two stems on it.

One thing I'm noticing is that I suck at transplanting stuff. All the passalong plants have pretty much died. What am I doing wrong? I don't really have this problem with plants I buy.


  1. Hey Gina,

    Dr. Choi here.

    You can't expect plants to be happy when you yank them out by their roots . It's called " transplant " shock. Plus, it doesn't help that the weather is very hot. Try to divide and transplant later in the
    Fall when it's cooler

    You do know that these plants are all annuals ( except the Rudbeckia ) and won't come back next year anyway, don't you ? Rudbeckia in particular wilts faster than most other plants, but if you keep watering well it should be okay. It's hard to kill them.

    The Cleome and Cosmos will sometimes reseed themselves. I've found it best to buy individual packages of seed that way you'll know how to plant them according to their height.

  2. Hi Dr. Choi! Yes, I knew that Cleome and Cosmos were annuals but they were hiding beautifully behind other plants and I needed to fill the bare spots. *hangs head in shame*

    But, your honor, I have killed plants in all sorts of weather. Remember way back in May I killed the Cornflower? And, remember you said the same thing about transplant shock when the Purple Coneflower that will practically grow on Mars died??? It's me - I JUST KNOW IT! I'm doing something wrong...

  3. So the plants you buy do fine, but the ones you transplant die? That's weird, Gina. Exactly how many time has this happened? I mean, if its only 2 or 3, maybe there's no connection and your next fifteen will do fine.

    Is there something that you do when you plant a new plant that you neglect if it's a transplant? (I have no idea what...I'm grasping at straws here.)

    Good luck!

  4. hey David! i can't think of anything I do different. I dig a whole, throw it in there and backfill. at first I thought it was because my dirt was so bad since it was happening with plants that came from beautiful established gardens to mine, but then this happened when I moved them in my own garden. maybe carolyn is right and I should just be patient. here's what ive killed: lily of the valley, cornflower, coneflower, rasberry bush and possibly cosmos, cleome and rudebeckia

  5. Carolyn Gail is right about this not being the best time to transplant... another month from now, go for it. My guess is that you aren't getting enough of the roots, especially on the annuals. But even with a lot of the roots, those annuals won't like being moved now.

    By the way, you are learning how to garden by doing, which is great. Don't worry about mistakes, just learn and move on.

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  6. carol - maybe i'm not getting enough of the roots. the ones i buy from the store, certainly have way more roots, many of them even rootbound.

    I was afraid that it was bad to move annuals but I didnt know it. I called GB but couldnt reach her so I just decided to do it. I kept expecting to get a panic call from her "DONT DO IT GINA!!!!! YOU CANT DIVIDE ANNUALS!!!!"

  7. I always transplant into pots so that I can control the situation, (amount of sun and water). Then. if they die they are not in beds were people will see them! ;) If they live, they get their own spot in the garden when it cools down in the fall.

  8. I think you should try to cut the plant that you transplanted back so all of its work is on growing again not on the plant that is wilting. I tranplanted lots of stuff this year but I also cut alot of it back and most are blooming again. I would also get some peat moss that will help your plants. Good Luck!! :~)

  9. Don't despair, dear heart. We all kill plants--my speciality is to dig up perennials in the spring, mistaking them for weeds. Asters are a particular problem for me (and then I leave the wild ones grow!).

    This isn't a good time to dig up annuals because they're too large and well established, and they're also nearing the end of their growing/life span. I can't remember if you're in a spot that's dry or in one of the wet areas. But yes, you probably didn't get enough of the roots, and your plant was too large, and with too few roots to bring moisture and too many leaves/flowers to transpire moisture out...a recipe for less than happy results. Plants that are in containers are used to having their roots constrained--but even they will sometimes croak if transplanted during warm weather/the middle of the day. Best time to transplant is early evening or morning and on cloudy days rather than sunny--just makes less chance of transplant shock, whether planting pot-grown nursery plants or moving things. But no worries, and repeat after me: there are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

    From one of your fellow garden experimenters.

  10. Hi Gina. I really can't add much to what everyone has said. Annuals don't like to be moved late in the growing season, but if you REALLY have to, dig up a HUGE amount of soil with the roots. They will never know they've been moved.

    Hey this is the only way you will learn about gardening. We've all killed more plants than we'd like to admit.

    Just keep trying and keep asking questions.

    (Your cosmos is beautiful. I like growing them in pots - then you have all kinds of control. And when they are spent, just yank them out and put something else in the pot.)

  11. vonlafin - thanks for the tip and thanks for stopping by

    laurie & chris - i acutally thought about cutting them back too, especially the cleome.

    jodi - i just need to be more careful where i plant annuals next year. thanks for the encouraging words

    alyssa - thanks! i'll try not to move the annuals anymore but if i do i'll definately do what you said and get a huge amount of dirt so they don't know they've been move. i love that Cosmos! it is the most striking thing in my garden.