Freshening old 'Indigo Spires'

jenn(SoCal 9/19)November 12, 2013

We have 2 old (several years old) S. 'Indigo Spires' which have grown very woody at the base over the years. They got out of hand this year while I tended to other things. The thick woody base spreads laterally in all directions, with the new growth on top. New foliage and blooms appear healthy. Both grow in full sun, clay soil, and moderate/occasional water.

I have cut them back to the new growth on top of the woody base, and am thinking of giving them a good deep watering and spreading fresh homemade compost around them to see if they freshen up. Is this the type of treatment it needs to look its best each year? Does it need more regular water, more frequent trimming, or is it time to replace it?

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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

A perennial is generally considered to be a plant that lasts at least five years.

You can divide the plant where it layers itself along the ground. The trick is to get a good node along the ground with both good shoots and roots. Success at transplanting calls for the roots and the stems to be balanced. A small root system won't support much foliage above ground, so pruning back the tops or removing some of the larger stems will work.. Don't set it into the old soil, since the older plant may be experiencing pathogens. It's better to place the new planting at least a few feet away. The soil there also may have a better balance of the appropriate nutrients

Planting it a little deeper than it was found will encourage the formation of many stems.

Part of the life cycle of a perennial is the saturation of growth and depletion of nutrients that takes place as it matures. Plants support themselves by adding layers to old tissue, adding to their mass. At some point, the overburden of additional old tissue will cause the plant to decline. Although the old tissue does not require active support by the vascular system, the latter still has to work harder, and the old tissue increasingly decays and forms a refugia for parasites and pathogens. Also, at some point, the root system will have gone past its optimum value in extracting water and nutrients.

Gardeners can learn to observe these processes to recognize and individualize the needs of each plant. This is where thinking can feed feeling, expanding perception and understanding. Gardening is a lot of fun experimentation.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:00AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you, Rich. I think I'll start with a simple method of a good trim and new mulch to freshen the soil, and see how it does. I didn't give it much attention the past year due to health issues and other distractions, so I'm hoping that keeping it trimmed and giving it a little more attention will result in a better looking plant.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 10:16AM
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