This happens in my online group all the time. Gardeners post images of pathetic, clearly ailing, sometimes two-thirds dead shrubs, perennials, and annuals all the time. Who knows how long these plants have been offering a less-than-attractive spectacle to their owners and visitors? Why haven’t they been uprooted or at least cut back and replaced/screened? The answer: loyalty and hope. With perennials, we can always assume they’ll happily bounce back the next season (maybe) and with annuals there might be some magical solution—trimming, fertilizing, repotting—that the owners keeps meaning to try.
I am totally guilty here. I have put up with plant fail on every level without taking the immediate action that’s likely required. This year, one issue was longer-than-acceptable rebloom times. I had a couple perennial salvias (maybe ‘Azure Snow’) that put up a decent amount of bloom sometime in June and then got busy spreading their ratty foliage—clearly attractive to insects—all over the bed. Never saw another flower. Meanwhile, my annual salvias performed like champs, with tall blooms that are still coming. I finally pulled out the losers a few weeks ago.
I’m even worse with hanging baskets. I got a lovely basket of osteospermums (close-up above), without bothering to learn that they hate hot weather. No amount of fertilizing helped and I finally took it down in favor of some lovely mandevilla. Same with the Thunbergia alata that thrilled me until I couldn’t overlook the stringy stems in favor of the regular blooms any longer. As it is, I overlooked this unsightly behavior in a high-profile spot for way, way, too long.
Is it wasteful to simply replace plants—still alive whatever else they may be—on a regular basis to keep the garden looking fresh? I’m not running a botanical garden, after all. This year, I have decided that the answer is no; the gardener’s happiness outweighs the discouragement of finally having to give up on underperformers. Isn’t that why we’re doing all this work?
It is significant that I could only find one image of any of the plants in question.