Go Get Your Shovel!

Go get your shovel! Do you think that plant is going to survive where it is if you just leave it there?

Yes, sometimes leaving a plant alone that isn't doing well, isn't the thing to do. If a plant is clearly not thriving, it may be necessary to dig it up and move it to a new location or pot it up and give it some extra care until it has recovered from whatever was bothering it.

I've decided to pot up this Variegated Five Leaf Aralia, Acanthopanax sieboldianus 'Variegatus', because it certainly isn't doing well where it was. In the container, I can give it better care. I'll feed it, water it regularly and attend to its spirtual needs.

Spiritual needs, you ask? There are two ways to go with a plant's spiritual needs. You can show your 'softer' side by talking nicely to the plant, encouraging it to grow, touching its leaves. (But be careful with the aralia, it does have thorns).

Or you can try a little 'tough love' and order the plant to do better. Tell it in no uncertain terms that it is time to start growing or it's off to the compost bin, and then point dramatically to wherever your compost bins are.

I've decided to show my softer side with the aralia.

Look at the nice pot I put it in.I'm almost embarrased to admit that this lovely clay pot was in the garage full of pieces of other broken clay pots. It's too nice for that!

So how do you know if you should dig up a plant or leave it alone?

- If it looks like the plant is clearly not thriving and is likely to die where it is, take a chance and move it or pot it up to give it more care.

- If you are planning a construction project or some other major renovation, and the plant must be moved because it is in the way, go ahead and move it, if you can manage whatever size the plant is.

- If the plant has grown too large for the space it is in, and can be safely dug up and divided to make more plants, do that, but it is best to do it in early spring or fall. Not June, July or August.

When you dig up a plant that isn't doing well, look for reasons why it isn't growing. Does it have a good root system? Do you see signs of disease or insect investation? Was the soil where it was poor soil, too wet, too dry, too hard? Try to correct those conditions before you replant.

If the plant is diseased, I'd toss it in the trash. You probably don't want to mess with whatever chemical cure there is for the disease, in your home garden, nor do you want to risk having the disease spread to your other plants.

Any other advice, fellow gardeners, on digging plants, especially in the summertime?

Oh, and now that I've dug up the aralia, I have a bare spot in my perennial border.I think I'll visit a garden center or two tomorrow and see if I can find a perennial or two or three or a dozen, to plant in this spot.

Any suggestions? It's good soil there, mostly full sun, and the plant will be well-cared for and loved by me.


  1. Get something orange. You said you needed some orange in your garden. Maybe the Orange Meadowbrite Coneflower?

  2. Carol.....
    I can't keep up with you. :-)
    I've only just finished being envious of all those immaculate hostas you have around, and now you have two new posts already.

    If only you knew what it takes for me to have just ONE hosta without holes in every leaf. And that one is in a pot, in a fortress of gravel, (to keep the snails out) on a large tray of water ( to stop the vine weevils, who can't swim) and raised up about three feet (to stop neighbours' cats).

  3. I'd think about the colors of the other plants around it, and go for a color echo. Maybe something with plum colored foliage to play off against the rose campion. Something with a different texture, too, like perhaps an ornamental grass? But orange next to that magenta? I don't think so . . .

  4. How does loropetalum (hope that's how it's spelled - commonly called "fringe flower") do there? Lovely purple leaves all year that contrast well with those you already have in that area, interesting foliage shape, and then those bright fringy flower things in the early spring.

  5. You always give the best advice in such a fun manner. Thanks for coming by for GBBD. I know you were busy with all those comments.

  6. I think you should go to the garden center with an open mind and a color theme. Then purchase the plant that catches your eye even if it isn't the right color height or size. Hmmmmmm no that is what I would probably do. At least make a list of possibilities. If all else fails buy a garden gnome.

  7. I'm just as jealous as Joco about your hostas. I also have one, in a container, supposely away from snail, and it one night it turned into a lacy something. :-(
    I've took away my tangerine tree from the garden back into a container near the house, and it loves the tlc I give it.(survived the frost, but did not thrive. In the container, frost does not touch it in winter, so it can concentrate on growing instead of surviving).
    I've tried the compost thing on clematis, they made an effort for a couple of weeks each year, but they choose the easy way, they died and went to the bin :-(

  8. I think you should leave it bare and put a nice little tiny pond there. Wouldn't that be sweet?

    Your little sister

  9. Carol good advice on ~diggin~ here!
    It is always a bit unerving moving a special plant to another location I think waiting for it's roots to take hold in it's new home but I know it's necessary. Spaces in my garden are alwasy filled with roses or lavender but that's just me!
    BTW are you having a difficult time logging onto Garden Voices as of late?? I am?
    I wish you a delightful day in your garden! NG

  10. That pot is too pretty to be ignored, Carol! Perhaps the aralia will appreciate the individual attention.

    The Loropetalum suggested by VDBD would look great, but it's only hardy to Zone 7B, and I think you're 5B.

    Are those pointed leaves from monarda and maybe phlox(?) growing in this area? You've also got nice spiky leaves from the iris, and wandlike gray leaves from the Rose campion AKA Lychnis coronaria, so maybe you need something rounder and fleshier! There are wonderful sedums in deep rose or burgundy tones which could look cool in this space.

    And now you have me thinking about Lychnis, which I first met as Agrostemma coronaria. I used to love the alba form. Wonder if it would like Texas?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. The best reason of all is to fill in that empty spot, lol! I have some transplanting to do with my butterfly bushes... they did well last year but not so this year..maybe too much rain.?

  12. Put the shovel down, go get the shovel...I'm so confused! ;^D I do move things in the middle of summer if the mood strikes me. It has to be overcast/cloudy on moving day & I try to get a lot of soil out with the roots, but I try to limit moving in summer to tough plants such as Daylilies,Campanula persicifolia, Irises & Sedums. I hope your little tree responds to all the TLC.

  13. I'm with MMD, put it down, pick it up, say thank you, chat on the porch, join the society. Whew, woman you wear me out! What a dynamo you are. I still can't get over my vacation hangover and the garden has gone wild with seed head and spent annuals that need pulling, pruning, watering. The veggies need harvesting, the peas pulling, the garlic braided, more staking the tomatoes, they are turning into giants, all the while we suffer from drought. How about a nice relaxing post, some day dreaming, some zen? ;->

  14. All, such great advice from everyone! I know you all understand that sometimes you just have to dig!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens


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