The plants weren’t dead they were gone. It happened over the winter. Other plants in the area were fine.
They should die back for the winter and return in the spring. If they didn't it could be for a multitude of reasons. They could have been annual instead of perennial, deer or other critter could have eaten them, the freezing and thawing of the soil could have heaved the roots up, killing them. It also helps to mulch well for winter protection.
It grows to about 4 feet but only produces a few flowers at the top of the plant, which gets a bit scraggly. It’s planted in a mostly shady, moist garden which gets maybe about an hour of midday sun. We cut it way back in the winter but have never protected it in any way. We are in Zone 5 Michigan. It’s was fertilized this year with Wonder Gro. Should I just chop the top off? What do you suggest?
Here are care tips that should help. Also, they do best in part shade, so I'm wondering if they don't get enough sun to bloom well. Also, since they are native, fertilizer is optional, and they may be getting too much nitrogen, which will advance the foliage at the expense of flowers.
Do you cut the stems to the bottom? Do they flower again? Lots of foliage on most but some have very spindley leaves and flowers.
Yes, you can deadhead the flowers for more blooms! This article will help you to care for the plant:
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That would be Columbine!
I'm in Connecticut (zone 7 I think) and got a bare root Columbine plant Last month (July). I planted it in the garden but it looks so sickly that I just took it out and put it in a pot hoping to give it a good start for next spring. Was this a smart move? What else can I do to preserve that plant for next spring's garden? Thank you
Usually bare root plants are only shipped in spring and fall. The roots may have overheated during transit. Are you planning to bring the pot inside for the winter? I would if the plant still looks sickly. If it perks up before a frost, you could leave it in a protected area outside or in the garage. Water sparingly if you bring it inside for the winter.