Observation and comments for discussion

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Umbrian

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Observation and comments for discussion
« on: June 13, 2020, 10:39:50 AM »
I remember Oron telling me quite some years ago now that plants are often bombarded with hormones to bring them into full flower at point of sale. I was lamenting the poor performance of a new plant I was trying (cannot remember what it was now) after the first flush of flowers were spent. It eventually gave up the ghost completely despite my normal care. Now I am wondering if, as well as this practice, plants are actually being modified in some way to produce large numbers of flowers at the expense of their natural habit. Here I am specifically thinking of Mandevillea that is very popular now here in Italy as a summer climber. Those I bought this year are covered in flowers that continue to come but the plants are showing no desire to climb. I find the abundance of flowers actually too great - the glossy dark leaves are an attractive part of this plant but are almost hidden by flowers. I know many people are mainly attracted by flowers but for me the beauty of a plant is often the balance between foliage and flowers especially with climbers. Anybody have thoughts on this?
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Charithea

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Re: Observation and comments for discussion
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2020, 01:16:13 PM »
Carole your raised a good point. They are flowers forced fed to open up and produce amazing blooms and a few months later they are dead. I fell under the spell of a Mandevillea and bought one despite John's warnings. It did not take to our hot summer. My sister then bought me one and I Feel that I took good care of it and that went the same way as the first one. No more Mandevillea! I admire the floriferous Gardenias and their glossy leaves  which are growing in big pots at the Plant Nursery near us. I often go and talk to the young son of the owner and ask him how he achieves certain results and how certain plants did during the summer.  The Gardenias  get 'fed''  every two weeks  during spring and summer.  I personally don't want to spend hours 'feeding' my plants. This brings me to my daughter's neighbour who  has a lot of plants in pots. Our granddaughter is very friendly with her so she gets invited to see the flowers. I also get invited. She has succulents that are flowering constantly. I asked her her secret and she showed me her shed that she keeps her fertilizers.
I garden in Cyprus, in a flat old farming field, alt. approx. 30 m asl.

Umbrian

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Re: Observation and comments for discussion
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2020, 07:10:57 AM »
When Mandevillea first became available here quite a few years ago now they were good summer additions for planting in pots. At the time I was involved with planting up pots at an old Villa close to us and they were an attractive addition. Bought as quite young plants they continued to climb up discreet supports  and gave a continuation of flowers plus good foliage as I mentioned in my previous post. Daily/weekly care was not my in my remit and they received very basic attention, definitely no feeding and not always consistent watering. Despite this however they were successful. Now it appears that with increased demand the plants offered for sale have been modified to give instant appeal at point of sale and no longer grow on in the  way they did previously. Commercialism at its worst that will surely backfire in the end?
Like you Charithea I rarely feed my plants, even closely planted pots succeed if good compost is used and care taken with choice of plants and watering needs - just occasionally giving a helping hand if something cherished seems to need it. 
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

David Dickinson

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Re: Observation and comments for discussion
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2020, 10:23:59 AM »
I feed most of my plants sparingly too. Only those in tubs/pots, of course. Some slow release fertilizer 3 or 4 times a year. Mostly Spring and autumn.

I wonder if (never tried) cutting new plants down to ground level and letting the new, tougher, growth come up naturally might do the trick? Give us lots of cutting material too.
I have a small garden in Rome, Italy. Some open soil, some concrete, some paved. Temperatures in winter occasionally down to 0C. Summer temperatures up to 40C in the shade. There are never watering restrictions but, of course, there is little natural water for much of June, July and August.

Umbrian

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Re: Observation and comments for discussion
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2020, 06:59:36 AM »
Another plant that I find disappointing now is Bidens. It was a favourite for planting around the edges of pots to weave amongst other subjects and send long reaching stems out in all directions. 'Progress' has seen the once small flowers get bigger and bigger and much of the original spreading habit lost. This year I could only find short, bushy plants smothered with flowers. Several weeks on and the flowers are getting less and less despite diligent deadheading and parts of the plants are dying away. Shall definitely give it a total cut down I think  and see what happens but rather fear that will see it off completely. Formerly I was  never without this happy little plant as it would self seed each year but when we moved from our original house here in Italy I sadly overlooked it.
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

David Dickinson

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Re: Observation and comments for discussion
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2020, 08:31:14 AM »
Hi Umbrian,

I have usually found Bidens to be short lived and the Bidens "Hot n Spicy" that I wrote about recently in the "Corona Virus Situation" thread may also prove to be so. I have only had it since spring. But not only has it set germinating seed but one of the many runners  has produced roots which has already given me one cutting. Let's hope that this cultivar might be more like the ones you recall.

Pity you left the other behind. My sister has just moved house and she gave me a list of plants last night that she had either left behind or which have not liked the new setting. Hope you can get it back into your garden somehow.
I have a small garden in Rome, Italy. Some open soil, some concrete, some paved. Temperatures in winter occasionally down to 0C. Summer temperatures up to 40C in the shade. There are never watering restrictions but, of course, there is little natural water for much of June, July and August.

Umbrian

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Re: Observation and comments for discussion
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2020, 06:46:26 AM »
My original plants were Bidens ferulifolia with lovey finely cut feathery leaves and quite small flowers. I think the craze for 'bigger and better' where flowers are concerned has led to new introductions and now it impossible to find the original ones. Progress?!
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.