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Cause of Death: Unknown
In my conversations, I frequently hear some rendition of this question: why did my tree/shrub/rose/houseplant/whatever plant die? This is not a bad question, and sometimes the answer can be succinct and very educational. At times I can answer that the Maple tree died of an iron deficiency; that the houseplant was overtaken by spider mites; or that the rose died from graft dehydration. 

More often, however, I don't have a good answer to why the plant died. Maybe it was a combination of factors: perhaps the drought, the heat and bugs were just too much for the plant to handle. Perhaps there was too much garden competition and the plant was crowded out.  I sometimes surmise that the plant was just old - yes, plants have a life expectancy and then they simply don't return the next spring.

I rarely find that the plant's death was directly caused by the gardener. Certainly it does happen that the plant wasn't watered or that it was accidentally sprayed with Round-Up but usually the cause of death has nothing to do with the owner. Personally, I refuse to take full responsibility for it when one of my plants dies. I may be guilty of being negligent in caring for it - but I didn't kill it!

If you've had some plant losses in your yard this year, please don't assume it's your fault. There may be a valid cause of death for the plants, but many times the cause of death is unknown. Don't be discouraged when something dies - look at it as an opportunity to learn something and to try something new.  
What I'm doing in my yard...
  • containersEnjoying my patio and deck with my pretty container gardens! I got them planted up the first weekend in June.
  • I have my own personal deadline of planting the vegetable garden before June 15. This year, I finished planting the beans and zucchini on June 14th. 

  • This weekend, we'll be turning on the sprinkler system for the first time this year. I'll be checking all the zones to be sure the sprayers are pointed on the lawn and not the fence or the road.

  • Deadheading (removing spent flowers) and pulling weeds - my near constant summer chore.

What I should be doing in my yard...
  • mum-pinchingRemoving the dead plum and cherry trees. (You can still see it in the picture above, behind my pretty containers.) Time to try something new! 

  • ​Pinching the fall blooming mums. In order to get nice, rounded and flower-covered mums in September, they need to be pinched back now. This means removing all of the growing tips by about 1 inch - like in this picture. I use a pair of scissors and do this in the evening to avoid leaf burn. I'll do it again around the 4th of July to get really full mums.

  • Removing the ornamental hops plant from the front flower bed. Ornamental hops is a vigorous vine which really needs a big pergola or sturdy trellis or even a fence to grow on - not the little obelisk I have for it. I like that it attracts ladybugs, but I have a nasty skin allergy reaction to it and it is way too big for the space it's in. So it needs to go elsewhere. Anyone interested in an ornamental hops plant? Free -- if you'll dig it up!

  • Turning/harvesting the compost pile. This was on my to-do list last month and it's still on the list!

spacer.gifIf you have questions about what you're doing or what you should be doing, ask meI won't pretend I have all the answers, but I always like to talk about plants!