Gunnera is gunna go

carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)May 7, 2013

I impulsively bought a pot of gunnera manicata, that giant-leaved plant I first saw near a stream at Great Dixter, England. But now I realize I don't have a stream or even a pond. So it won't survive in my RI land, especially since it's a weekend place and I wouldn't be there every day to water it.

So what should I do? It evidently needs constantly moist soil at its roots. And it is almost zone 7. We do have wetlands downhill, but the State monitors such places and I think won't allow anything to be planted there. We'd be fined if we did plant it there.

Does anyone else here have a gunnera?


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If you want to keep it I'd try putting those water retention polymer pieces in highly organic potting soil and planting it in a really large self-watering pot in half-shade, or a huge regular glazed or plastic pot with a deep saucer under it, or even bury a kids' wading pool so that the rim is several inches below grade, fill it up with soil and moisture polymer up to the ground surface. Mulch the surface well and put it in half-sun. Then you could really heavily water it (since it doesn't mind sitting in saturated soil) and it might last the week. In my garden with mid-sized pots in full sun, the moisture polymer 'crystals' keep things damp for 3 days or so without having standing water in a saucer beneath it. You could even set up a really slow drip of some type such as several gallon bottles set on the soil with a couple of tiny pin-holes in the bottom to let water seep out, or a rain barrel set high enough to let gravity help out so that some type of wick arrangement would slowly allow water to seep into the soil.

Or is there someone you could get to water it midweek? Or alternatively someone with better growing conditions who would love a Gunnera for a present?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 7:05PM
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You could always trade it for something you do want.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:52AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Nhbabs, I 'm following your advice and I'm hoping I have a giant by July.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 5:48PM
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show us some photos of the Gunnera........I wonder how fast it will grow this season??

My Tetrapanex is starting to grow....(looks like Gunnera).

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:49PM
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I don't have one, but I DO have Darmera peltata, which is very similar (moisture lover, huge leaves). Coincidentally, I fell for these when I saw them at the botanical garden in Paris - where they were growing in standing water.

I often consider digging it up and putting a wading pool under it, because I forget to water it. They don't require standing water, just damp soil. When I planted mine, I dug out a lot of soil and made a sort of low spot in the garden for it - filled with compost to hold more moisture. It's not quite enough to keep it happy, but it does still flower (right now, allium-like flowers poking out of nearly bare soil - very pretty and surprising).

Good luck with yours, Carol - I love these dramatic large leaved plants.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 9:12AM
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