Perennials in the NW corner??

jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)May 25, 2013

I am curious, and I am looking for the best no fail perennials up here in the NW corner. Where we have alkaline, clay, tending to be dry soil.

I love lupines, but they don't come back,
I love foxgloves, but they don't come back
I love cardinal flowers, but they don't come back

In other words, there are a LOT of perennials that I really love, and try to grow over and over and over. I give up!

I CAN grow a lot of things, but I am sure I am missing some. Which is what prompts the question!

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KittyWitty(4b)

all three like regular to moist soil; try prairie plants like the following, after they are established, will return due to their longer taproot.

Physostegia angustifolia
Coreopsis verticillata
Butterfly bush (once established)
hardy cactus
Nepeta
yarrow
salvia
artemsia
primrose

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 1:23AM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Thank you
Although I think it is to cold up here for butterfly bush. I will look into the rest of the list.

I DO have nepeta, in a couple of varieties.

OH I planted some Physostegia angustifolia 2 years ago, it should do well this year! I might have to split some and move it to the area I would love to grow lupines or foxgloves in.

Thanks again

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 1:56AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

How about phlox paniculata, helianthus 'Lemon Queen' a pale yellow perennial sunflower, goldenrod, eupatorium, salvias, veronicas and hardy geraniums? The U of MN introduction Mammoth mums are my favorite no fail mum, very little care and need no pinching.

Lupines, cardinal flower and foxglove are iffy plants for me even in the Twin Cities.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 2:25PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Thank you. I did have a nice helianthus..BUT my new son in law was helping me clear out some volunteer plums that were taking over the bed, and thought it was a plum. What can I say....he was helping! LOL I am waiting to see if he got all of it or hopefully there is a little left.

Phlox does not do well for me, don't know why, either they die off, or get mildew maybe a fungus, either way the bottom leave die off the flowers don't do well, and I give up!

Salvia's veronica's, hardy geraniums I love and have a number of. It's the tall spiky flowers, for the hummingbirds and butterfly's I want more of.

I do have a LOT of delphiniums, and lilies.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 3:30PM
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belle_michele(zone4Minnesota)

You may want to bite the bullet and slowly start amending the soil along with planting for your area. I have really crappy soil, a lot of clay, and every year I've worked on one area at a time, expanding it, until I have some fairly decent beds for my roses and lilies.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 10:48PM
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KittyWitty(4b)

I love a lot of the moisture plants like cardinal flower/bergenia/astibles... and I just had to have a particular heleniumn, which like moist clay, so I amended my regular soil with clay and made sure to water a few times a week, and it was soo worth it. I probably won't be trying out the Himalyian blue popply again, like moist shade z5, quite picky for master gardeners too. I planted a dwarf cherry tree just for some shade, and then I started trading plants, and it is starting to be quite wonderful to have more than sun lovers.

As for tall phlox, it needs good air circulation, ideally good watering, and it performed best for me when I sprayed with anti-fungal in early summer.

I have clay soil in one area of my garden, and yesterday, I dug up a hole for a new knock out rose, removing the clay soil and substituted compost/manure for the planting. If roses were not so vulnerable to fungal diseases, I would pile on shredded leaf litter as a mulch, and that would also help retain moisture.

There are books I have gotten from the library which will recommend plants for specific conditions.

The issue with lupines for me has been pesky rabbits. So when I saw 2 seedlings (not sure if I sowed them, or self-sowned), I moved them under/between my sharp yucca foliage. Lupines are biennals, so if you buy a flowering plant, you will have to make sure it self-seed, and that those seeds mature into a small plant the same season, to ensure next spring bloom. Can't recall if stratification is required, but soaking or seed scarfication aids in germination.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 11:44PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

I always forget to give enough information, I have been gardening all my life, and in this is year #20 in this yard. I amend my soil every year, each year concentrating on one area. My lot is 5 acres, although we really only garden on about 1.5 to 2. And most of my flower beds are on the shady side, due to mature oak trees. I use a LOT of composted leave, shredded leaves, etc.

I am just looking for some tried and true perennials (other than delphiniums) to give me the impression of the foxgloves, and lupine. I can't afford to buy more seed, or more plants, to not have them come back in year 2. It's time to give up on them (after about 10 years of trying)

I have no problems growing shrub roses, irises, clematis, delphiniums, peony's and lily's. But like all gardeners I lust after that which I have problems growing!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:08PM
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jetred(3 Mb)

My "old realiables" are various hosta and "stella d'or" daylily. They grow in most places other than dead shade.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 10:13PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I mostly grow phlox paniculata David" which has not gotten mildew and stays nice looking. It also has a smaller rebloom when cut back after first bloom.
If you are coming to this area this summer/fall I would be happy to give you some.

Delphiniums are short lived in this area. A few years ago I got seed from New Zealand (shared seed and cost with a Canadian gardener). They bloomed beautifully last year and this year the plants are huge but no bloom yet. Hope they don't die out as quickly as the others. Another that I started from collected seed was Early Guardian Blue. It only lasted three years but bloomed the first year and the blooms were lovely. Surprisingly I have one "King Arthur" plant that is at least seven years old. All the other Camelot themed ones died after two or three years. Do you mulch your delphiniums for the winter?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 12:34PM
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windytown(4)

mnwsgal, The New Millennium varieties of delphinium have been great for me. I'm on year seven with the nine originals I planted in our front yard. None have died and just get bigger. They're in a fairly well-drained area in heavily amended clay soil. Full sun until around 3. I have never mulched them. I think that would lead to crown die back.

Only two of the seven I put in a different area came back. It's a wetter, shadier area with not as much soil amendment.

I haven't ordered from them in years (well, 7, LOL). But got them from gracefulgardens.com. They ship a good product, but it has become really pricey.

Just spent a good part of the evening staking all of them. The darn storms wrecked havoc on the peonies (and well, everything else) and I'm doing my best to ensure it doesn't happen to the delphs as they're in bud.

Jennypat, I've NEVER had luck with foxgloves coming back, even when I was in relatively warm S. Mpls. I gave up. Lupines did well there though. Not so much in the west metro. My only replacement for them is Rocket series snapdragons. They're pretty but certainly not the same.

It's all a fun adventure. Good gardening to everyone!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:41PM
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windytown(4)

mnwsgal, The New Millennium varieties of delphinium have been great for me. I'm on year seven with the nine originals I planted in our front yard. None have died and just get bigger. They're in a fairly well-drained area in heavily amended clay soil. Full sun until around 3. I have never mulched them. I think that would lead to crown die back.

Only two of the seven I put in a different area came back. It's a wetter, shadier area with not as much soil amendment.

I haven't ordered from them in years (well, 7, LOL). But got them from gracefulgardens.com. They ship a good product, but it has become really pricey.

Just spent a good part of the evening staking all of them. The darn storms wrecked havoc on the peonies (and well, everything else) and I'm doing my best to ensure it doesn't happen to the delphs as they're in bud.

Jennypat, I've NEVER had luck with foxgloves coming back, even when I was in relatively warm S. Mpls. I gave up. Lupines did well there though. Not so much in the west metro. My only replacement for them is Rocket series snapdragons. They're pretty but certainly not the same.

It's all a fun adventure. Good gardening to everyone!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:50PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

SO I did it again, I purchased some lupine plants. I thought I would try them in a different part of the yard. My thinking is that maybe they were in to much sun and to dry, where I was trying to grow them.

BUT after I got home I realized I don't have another spot in the yard to plant them! Everything is full! LOL! I might have to move a few things around.

Oh and the delphiniums are looking great! I don't have any trouble growing those!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 12:02AM
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KittyWitty(4b)

Lupines, I just looked up, love regular soil (too rich and it will be all foliage), and full sun for good flowering (link - http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/lupine/growing-lupines.htm). Regular watering during dry spell is probably important, but not as important as good drainage.

I don't trust purchased plants because if it is a biennial variety, then if it flowers, it will need to set seed for it to come back the following year AND it will have to be a non-hybrid variety, as those are finicky about staying true to parentage and more importantly, about seed viability (corn seeds are often hybrids, hence the seed companies can make profits for all the genetic engineering for a disease/pest resistant strain).

And some varieties are annuals only. So, it maybe you had the wrong type.

If you don't mind limited color choices (blue/yellow or white (cream)), then wild lupines may be worth a try (up to zone 3a). I heard that seeds are the best method for that.

Let us know how your lupines fare next spring :)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 12:55AM
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KittyWitty(4b)

I have bad luck with delphs. Some micro white bugs are eating away the crown, and I lost one stalk. Poured some insecticide soap, but its stem is almost off, and with nice bud formations too. Other times, ants have slowly dissected the plant and devoured it I guess, or they do not return. I heard monkshood, being hyper poisonous, is more reliable, so I will have to hope. One transplant returned this year, only to vanish a few wks later, and I am crossing fingers for the other.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 1:03AM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

LOL Kitty, I tried monkshood, they never bloomed for me and didn't return the third year.

Thank you for the info on the lupine, I did have them in full sun with good drainage. I will have to look for some native seeds. Although I had a few seeds I had collected, and just for fun stuck them in some pots of soil, and set them out in a shady spot, and they are growing! Now I need to plant them too.!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 10:59AM
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windytown(4)

Kittywitty - The white bugs on your delphiniums are aphids. The ants you observed aren't eating the plants. Aphids are the moo cows, so to speak, for the ants. They milk the aphids for the sugars they suck out of plants. Ants drag the aphids underground for the winter even, to get the sugar out of them. Sounds weird. Get rid of the aphids with a sharp spray of water daily as the plants emerge and be vigilant about it. That's what I do with my roses when I spot aphids. I've never had that problem with the delphs. Nature never fails to be interesting. :)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 12:22AM
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KittyWitty(4b)

I have seen white/red/black/green aphids before, and these were not cows, something else ... I believe some of my plants are showing symptoms of thrip damage, as my nearby burgundy sedum has silver streaks, and also my candy lily are looking not so well. The crown damage was too severe, given the heat and its direct west exposure, despite my attempts, so I nipped the plant, which is free of the bugs after the insecticide soap. Maybe it will shoot out next year?

As for the ants.... they were literally taking apart the larkspur and hauling it off (like in jungle documentaries).

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 12:58AM
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windytown(4)

Ewww! I got the picture from you description. Poor larkspur.

Silly question, but are they located under a hummingbird feeder? Just grasping at straws trying think why that would happen. My hummer feeder sways in the wind and sprinkles everything around it with sugar water.

You obviously know your stuff. That's just weird.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 10:20PM
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