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Q.Dying/missing bulbs and perennials

Zone 7 | Anonymous added on June 3, 2020 | Answered

Hi there,
I have a question that I hope someone can shed some light on for me.
My goal was to make a bed that would, yes, require initial hard labor but would become a relatively low maintenance bed that I could enjoy and be able to take care of. I used reputable companies. I dug a bed in an area outside of our front windows. It’s full sun to partial shade. Grass and weeds have flourished there for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t bare gravel or dirt or anything. Seed that fell from the bird feeder came right up as new plants. This is some of the worst soil I’ve ever dealt with. Rocky with lots of clay like dirt. After digging, de-rocking, and weeding the bed. I amended the soil with a mixture of peat moss and new topsoil with manure in it down to about 6”-10” deep. The spring planting bulbs came in. I got them just at the very end of the spring shipping season so they we’re planted way later than desired. Here’s an overview, this is not everything, Hyacinths, lavender, hearty hibiscus, gladiolus of various sizes and types, plumbago, Elijah blue fescue, Florida caladiums, Grecian windflowers, anemones, peonies, heuchera, tons of dahlias. I bought locally: a rose, yellow jasmine, coneflower, a hydrangea and a few annuals. So everything was planted. I watered regularly. Slowly things came up. Very slowly. Not in the quantities that I planted. I was prepared for a certain amount of loss and had told my husband replacements would be free. All the fescue died. I got replacements in the fall and none has come up. The foxglove died. The coneflower died. The heuchera died. All but one wee plant. I take that back. I bought about 5 of a black/burgundy type one and five of a solid green type. Replaced the dark ones and they have all lived and are flourishing. The solid green ones are gone without a trace . Out of more than 12 dahlias 5 came up. I have basically one now. Two are struggling to come up but something is chomping them and insecticide isn’t helping. Out of two lavender plants, two types, one died. It was replaced and is now doing very well. Buddleia, three of them, never poked up a leaf. Planted another foxglove this year. Seems to be doing well. The hibiscus has done wonderfully. Just a stick when I got it and now it’s huge. The clematis didn’t grow hardly at all but this year it’s great. As is the jasmine. A few gladiolus came up last year and a few this year. Four of the caladiums lived but only one has come up this year and its on the other side of the flower bed. Less the coneflower and foxglove there were multiples of everything. Like 35 glads and 9 came up. The only things that have survived to this year are planted where they are somewhat protected by the eaves. The body and front border of the bed are virtually empty. Here’s what has come up beyond the eaves so far this year: Plumbago, I think all of them have lived and are thriving, one dahlia, three or four glads, a windflower and a few hibiscus this spring. I also bought two columbine plants and they’re doing great. I mulched the bed with pine needles this fall just like I always did at the other house. We didn’t have very much truly cold weather this winter.
So here I am with a flower bed that should be English cottage garden pretty and I have a spattering of a few lone plants in the main body of the garden and the front border. These should have been basically foolproof, no brainer, easy care, mostly hard to kill, low maintenance perennials. What the heck is going on? Why have some lived but so many died, maybe disappeared? It’s not a clean clear line of living and barren. It’s just generally barren beyond the eaves. I am so upset by how it looks. It should’ve been so pretty this year. I planned everything. By height, by color, by bloom time etc. like I’ve always read you should do. I could just scream/stomp my feet/cry/throw something! And the money…! That really makes me want to cry. I haven’t asked for replacements for anything this year since there may very well be something wrong with my bed.
That’s it. If you’re still with me, thanks for reading my story. Sorry it was so long. I hope I’ve given you all the info you might need but if not let me know. Any constructive help or insight would be greatly appreciated.

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
GKH_Susan
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on June 5, 2020

You have gone to a lot of work and I understand your frustration.
I would suggest starting with a soil test. Contact your County Extension Office; they can help you with this for just a small fee.

Only then can you determine what needs to be done to the soil to assure a better outcome for your plants; presently and any future plantings.

Also, buy locally what you can. Certain plants, such as bulbs, often aren't carried locally and you have to order online. When you do shop online, pay attention to the age of the plant and the size. Sometimes, I think, perennials are sold too soon. And with online purchases, you don't get to see the plants till they arrive.

This link will help you locate your nearest office.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/extension-search
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/testing-soil.htm

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