Mistakes Made - Let's Share

dnr24(7b)July 25, 2010

Someone posted a "Stupid Plant Placement" thread recently about planting some irises too close to some shrubs. I'm new to gardening and have been doing lots of reading. One common piece of advice I read is that all gardeners make mistakes; learn from them. Well, seeing as there are lots of gardeners here, and we all garden in the same region, perhaps you can share some gardening mistakes you've made so the rest of us can learn from them--particularly us beginners. I'll start:

I was told that you can completely mow down "monkey grass" in the early spring to clean up the overgrown and unsightly grass. Supposedly, within a few weeks, small green shoots will poke through the center and then grow up and cover the crew-cut trimmings. I did this to my entire yard. I did not realize, however, that "monkey grass" is just a generic name and that there is Mondo grass and Liriope. The advice I followed applied strictly to Liriope, but I hacked down both my Liriope and my Mondo. So, now that summer is in full swing, my Liriope is enormous again, but my Mondo is still sporting the crew-cut. Yeah, it's growing back, but very slowly. Needless to say, the mistake was a learning experience since I didn't even know that I had two kinds of "monkey grass."

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This is one of many...

I have two concrete pots on top of 8x8 post that our cattle gate is connected too....I have planted those pots for 3 years...yes every year within 2-3 months, you guessed it, they died...

then one day it hit me....dummy, the concrete is acidic...very acidic....

so I got the ladder and went for the pots, with GH plastic in hand...I removed all the soil, lined them with the plastic and put new soil in...added plants and woohoo, they grew...now if I can keep them watered...lol

pretty stupid for someone that owns a nursery, but it goes to show you that your never toooo old ta learn...LOL LOL

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 12:35AM
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tedevore(7b Al)

I have sown seeds of some arm season plants like tomatoes and peppers
too early, like in mid-february and grew them under lights until beginning of april, when they were already at least 6+ inches tall. Then when it started getting real warm in the beginning of April, the temptation was to go ahead and plant them. I am finally getting better at being patient. When a mid-april frost comes around, you finally realize you aren't gaining anything by jumping the gun and running around like a nut covering stuff. Better to let the ground warm up more anyway.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 4:16AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

[frog hollow lady, concrete is very alkaline rather than acidic. The pH can be way off the scale, which tops out at 15! Yikes! My concrete patio is corrosive enough to burn my feet if I'm out there without shoes.]

Many years ago, when I was still locked into using strong chemical pesticides, I was asked to take care of a very bad scale problem on a huge old Burford Holly in the front yard of a very prominent architect. I grabbed a chemical that had been very effective for me in the past, a systemic product very commonly used for scale and whitefly, and sprayed away.

Two days later, his Burford completely defoliated. Guess what? Right smack on the label was the warning: Do not use on Burford Holly (among others). His holly recovered just fine (minus the scale, by the way), but I never forgot my folly. Folly shmolly! It was utter stupidity and carelessness. The worst kind of mistake.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:48AM
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I think we've all made the mistake of pushing the first frost date once or twice, especially when a spring has been soooo warm.

At the moment I can't think of any big gardening mistakes I've made, although they are numerous! I haven't made these mistakes myself, but I see them happen every spring:

1) The stores put out loads of plants in the spring either long before they should be planted or long after it. Tomatoes in February. Brassicas in May. If you plant broccoli in April in Alabama, you will get pretty yellow blossoms. Ironically, the "ornamental" kale and cabbage, which is perfectly edible, goes out in the fall at the correct time.

2) The trees and shrubs get put out for sale in spring, when they should be planted in fall.

3) Apple and other fruit trees for sale in the spring, rootbound and forced to bloom, with no indication of rootstock or probable eventual size.

4) Mint.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 1:29PM
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I had a large tree taken down several years ago (I have many more - don't worry) as it was completely putting a whole corner of the garden in DEEEEEP shade and not much would grow but ferns, hellebores and hosta and they were wimpy due to the roots sucking up all the water. Little did I appreciate the size of the canopy. Once it was gone that whole area got the full brunt of the noon day sun for several hours.

I had to rush around every afternoon after work and move stuff to keep it from frying. I have since gradually replaced the shade stuff with sun stuff...except for the hellebores which have thrived. Weird. Linda

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 2:25PM
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rhizo ...I'm sorry you are correct....and I even tested it with my strips and still said it wrong....see, getting old isn't all what it's cracked up to be...LOL

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 3:17PM
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There is not room to list all my mistakes! Some are now too big to move - will completely redo a couple of flowers this fall but it is still fun - I learn something new every day

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 11:13AM
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catbird(z7 AL)

Goodness, where to begin!

Guess the easiest one to make is the same as the crowded-irises-and-hollies posting: putting small plants in small places without realizing how big they'll get.

The one that really stands out in my memory is the time I carefully mulched the bearded irises given to me by an older friend and then proudly telling her about it the next day. She ordered me to go straight home and remove the mulch and NEVER mulch bearded irises, except perhaps with a thin layer of pine straw! Believe me, I never forgot that one.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:47PM
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This is great. Some great pointers here.

As far as cement planters go--all those common cement planters require lining so as not to create overly alkaline soil?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 2:52PM
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tedevore(7b Al)

Unlessyou are growing blueberries or something that needs to be in soil that is very much on the acidic side, I would not worry about lining your cement planters. In fact, I have made some big planters out of cement, and I have found plants many plants like astilbes, ferns, elephant ears, etc. grow very well in them. The may appreciate having the soil a little higher in ph than otherwise would be from my slightly acidic soil or peat-based potting soil.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 11:32AM
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madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)

Placing a gardenia in afternoon sun. This spring I moved it to where it gets about 2 hours of morning sun - it is MUCH happier.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 10:23PM
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For me it is not giving plants enough space. The roses should have been another foot away from the privacy fence. There's the confederate rose mess. Why would a rational woman who has for years admired the huge size of confederate roses plant one just 2 feet in front of a privacy fence??? Pure dumb. Then there's the hydrangea. Carefully bought a variety that could take more sun. Took about 3 weeks to determmine the precisely best location for it to be sited in the yard. annnnnd then forgot to account for the sun's position in the summer being different from that of the spring! It surely doesn't like THAT much sun and will have to be moved this fall.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 8:30PM
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I don't make mistakes! I just make commitments which go terribly wrong. I was at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens almost 20 years ago. They were putting some Dutch iris in the trash and a worker asked if I would like some. As I left, I picked up a few pieces and brought them home. I planted them without removing the soil around the roots. Well I brought home some pennywort roots and they are impossible to eradicate. BTW, I made another commitment yesterday. I committed to have some tree limbs removed which reached over the roof. The guys came today to do the work. I had them sign a liability release. They had not been working more than 30 minutes when one guy fell out off the ladder with a running chainsaw. He is OK. Newer chainsaws have a clutch which stops the chain from turning. The guy had a few bumps, bruises and a few bleeding scratches but otherwise he is fine. They continued to work another 2 hours.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 7:00PM
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All this is a real wealth of information. The zone denial is great for a new gardener like me. Any other useful tips for someone starting out? Things you wish you'd known? Tools you wish you'd had?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 10:53PM
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i am a charter member of "lets plant this stuff really close together so it'll look nice & full". omg... also leaned not to fertilize the cannas. i am being overrun with them. i have never seen anything spread like these dang things!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

OMG, terry, that is scary! Earlier today, in another forum, I made a comment to someone who was wanting to know how to prune her tree that was growing 'very close' to the power lines! I told her that doing any kind of pruning near power lines was probably the cause of most tree related deaths or accidents......followed closely by climbing a ladder with a running chainsaw!! Yikes.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:34PM
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