The Plant Lab
If I'm not sure how well a plant will do in my garden, it goes in the lab, which is to say I stick it in a pot and add it to the collection cascading down the patio steps. If something dies, I try not to get upset. I just tell myself to re-evaluate the methods I used to grow it, consider alternatives, and try again. Or I rip the damn thing out, cussing all the while, and head into the house for a glass of wine. A combination of the two is my favorite.
Cheap, colorful annual vinca are the only plants I've found that can tolerate the reflected heat off the kitchen door.
Red salvia 'Maraschino' thrives in a pot after struggling in my garden. After hanging the outside curtain to minimize the amount of reflected it receives, it perked up. But I still couldn't figure out why it needed such a ridiculous amount of water.
I finally spotted a hole in the side of the pot. The water was pouring out as fast as I was pouring it in. Duck tape solved the problem!
I have no idea what this plant is! It grew from a seed that looked like a nasturtium seed from a packet labeled Nasturtium, but it doesn't look like a nasturtium or resemble any of the pictures in the catalog I ordered it from. It's a mystery plant that would prefer afternoon shade rather than afternoon sun. Do you know what it is? It hasn't bloomed yet.
I added 'Iron Butterfly' ironweed to the Plant Lab this year to see how well it would do. So far, it's a winner. It's highly attractive to pollinators and is much shorter than the more common ironweed.
My white annual gomphrena came in a little six pack labeled Purple. The purple attracted numerous pollinators but the white is ignored. Next year I'll buy them in bloom.
Growing next to the gomphrena is Deep Perfume Purple nicotiana, which has no fragrance. It's easy to grow, but the pollinators ignore it, too. Something else will go in that pot next year.
Last year I started experimenting with Louisiana iris. I thought they needed standing water but as long as the soil is moist, they're fine. The red parrot feather in the front needs more water than the iris.
The iris experiment was so successful I added more non-draining pots to the patio. Toads love to hang out in these during the day.
After killing marguerites twice in the garden, I added them to the Plant Lab and finally figured out how to keep them happy - slightly moist, fast draining soil in full sun. Plus, they need to be pinched back every time you deadhead.
In my quest to add more fragrance to the garden, I potted up two tiny honeysuckle plants. Instead of letting them trail all over the patio, I wanted to keep them bushy and full by pruning them to increase volume. The Major Wheeler cultivar (solid green) is so tough, I'm planning on adding it a difficult spot in my front garden. The variegated honeysuckle has been more fickle.
The variegated honeysuckle has highly fragrant white flowers or so I've read. These haven't bloomed yet.
I was given these super dwarf hosta as a gift from a friend. It took quite of bit of moving around before I finally found a spot to make them happy. I was worried this experiment would fail.
They only grow a few inches tall.
One of my most successful experiments has been growing 'Ava' agastache in a big pot. It needs better drainage than my soil can offer.
It's a pollinator/hummingbird magnet!
I used a soil thermometer to determine which type of pot (clay, ceramic, resin, etc) kept the soil the coolest but they all registered the same temperature.