Fun feature: Ask-a-GardenerBy Melody Rose (melody)
July 31, 2010
If you have a question you'd like us to consider, you may pose it in the Ask-a-Gardener forum. If your question is chosen for this feature, you can be sure you've helped others with the same question.
uncbba02 asks about saving seed on Blanket Flowers Gaillardia pulchella "I'm trying to grow more of these but don't know where and when to get the seeds. Where are they on this flower and when should I pull them off??"
Marie Harrison, (can2grow) and Melody answer the question:
Marie: Good for you, uncbba02, for growing more of our native blanket flower (Gaillardia). The seeds are easy to find on the plant. Simply let the flowers dry up and "go to seed." Shred the dry flower to reveal many seeds.
Keep them in a dry place until you are ready to plant them. This fall would be an ideal time. Keep in mind that flowers started from seeds express many variations, so what you get from seeds may not be exactly like your cultivar ‘Goblin.' However, they will be perfectly acceptable plants for your garden.
Melody adds: Gaillardia seed can be found in the fuzzy ball-like seed head that remains after the flower petals drop. The image is of an immature seed head that isn't quite ready yet. It will turn a grayish-white shade, and look like a fat dandelion head.The seeds are triangular, gray and have little barbs on the end of them, like the seeds in my hand. The little barbs will hang in animal fur or on clothing and help spread the seeds to another area.You can plant the seeds in the fall, or start them indoors to be transplanted in the spring. Blanketflowers are also quite happy to be divided. Just dig a mature clump and divide into two or three smaller ones.
Member piakennedy asks about eradicating morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea: "I have morning glory spreading all over my garden. No matter what I do, I can't get rid of it. Any hints or help? Thank you."
Geoff Stein, 'palmbob' says:
I have had the unfortunate experience of growing what I thought at the time was one of the most beautiful and amazing vines I had seen in my short life as a gardener, Ipomoea purpurea, a common species of Morning Glory. There are literally over a thousand species of Morning Glory and this answer is directed more toward the garden-variety plant, not the wild bindweed or any other horror of which I have no experiences with. Still, the common Morning Glory is a tenacious beast and getting rid of it once it has taken a firm hold in one's garden in truly a daunting task.
In my situation, I let it run wild for a few years enjoying the amazing array of colorful flowers that varied from deep blue to pale pink depending on their age and time of day. The entire front yard, my 'tropical' section, was now adorned with this fabulous vine. It had by now, grown up into the centerpiece in the yard, a huge elm, that virtually shaded nearly an eighth of an acre of my property. I watered regularly since I was growing palms, cycads and all sorts of interesting tropicals.
Soon the honeymoon was over and I started to notice this not-so-unsubstantial vine was actually weighing down a lot of my wimpier species, and wrapping itself around many palms making them Morning Glory mummies or plant burritos. Suddenly I was forced into action and I took the normal route of pulling up vines and spraying RoundUp. Both were not that easy to do, due to the crowded nature of the front yard, having nearly 500 species of plants growing in it. First, pulling up Morning Glory, especially in summer in our heavy, clay soil was a frustrating experience. Morning Glory develops a massive root (for a typical garden vine, that is) and there is no way to dig it up by just pulling, as I had at first hoped. The vines are amazingly tough and somewhat stretchable making one think that it would be possible to pull it out of the ground. Eventually even this vine snaps leaving behind a perfectly happy root, ready to put out a lot more vines in no time. Additionally this vine puts out 'runners' (that's what I call them... no idea if that is truly their real name) that 'run' along the ground, shooting rootlets down every few inches it seems, and spreading itself almost exponentially in this fashion. Pulling up these runners is usually accompanied by a long serious of small snapping sounds, which are all the attachments to new rootlets being severed. Each rootlet, still alive, and now with a new purpose, cranks out another vine.
The RoundUp I used, diluted as directed, had almost no effect on this vine no matter how many gallons I went through. The effect it did have was to make the leaves shrivel and yellow a bit, and make it stop flowering. Now I had a yard choked with UGLY vine, but still alive and growing. RoundUp only made things worse it seemed, plus I did manage in my careless frustration to kill off a few of my more delicate tropicals with it.
Additionally, the sheer weight of the vines in the tree above, how it wrapped itself around everything made the above ground extraction no easier. I pulled a lot of things over and it took weeks of clipping, balancing on a tall ladder, to clean even a portion of this monster. From the overhead view of the ladder, I could see the almost countless new vines popping up wherever I could glimpse the ground. I started to consider dynamite and flamethrowers, and just sacrifice the other 500 plants and elm tree. Already the city was probably cursing me after picking up what must have been the 50th green can literally packed with this indestructible creature. I have no idea how Morning Glory goes through a shredder, but my guess is it does not go peacefully. Already the city would not allow me to discard palm leaves due to the damage it did to their shredders. I couldn't imagine Morning Glory was any better. I started having nightmares about this vine, imaging myself caught in the yard and being dragged down and choked to death.
So I did some research (yes, I know that probably would have been the smart thing to do first... especially before BUYING the Morning Glory). Several methods have been recommended online with varying comments from 'impossible to eradicate' to 'simple to get rid of'. HA! I read the latter one and discovered that the simple method was to 'cut and paint'. Cut meaning cut all the vines at ground level (get rid of the dead, ugly mess in the air later). Then paint each cut end almost immediately with pure RoundUp, not diluted). I tried this and amazingly some of the vines died, though the oldest, thickest just were upset and shrunk back a while. Sadly, my yard was so crowded with other plants in nooks and crannies that finding all the vines was nearly impossible... but there were no other answers. Other suggestions were to desiccate it to death..., which would basically kill of my entire garden. In addition, in areas where I had accidentally done this already I discovered Morning Glory is one tough plant in terms of its xeric capabilities... I think a cactus might succumb from lack of water before this plant did. Another suggestion was smother it, keep it from seeing the light of day. Interestingly the light of day was what this plant was keeping out of the yard at one point and everything else was suffering (our front yard was nearly dark in summer thanks to this vine growing over our elm tree). To cover my entire yard with black plastic and/or a thick layer of ground cover would have been a good suggestions had it not been so heavily planted (so if you have morning glory in your lawn, this might work)... every place a plant comes through the plastic, so does 5-10 vines. Oh well. Cut and Paint it was.
Eventually I got the upperhand, though it is still there to this day. Did I mention it seeds a lot? You just have to work at it... or not plant it to begin with. Alternatively, keep it in a pot. Or, grow it in zone 2 or something like that where it will be killed overwinter anyway. Sorry I don't have a better answer than that. Good luck!
Remember, if you have a gardening question that you would like to suggest for this feature, post it here. Our writers and admins will handpick a few of your questions and answer them in an upcoming Ask-a-Gardener, one of our Saturday morning features. Other questions may be moved to one of our other forums so your fellow members can help you.