What Didn’t Work

“What Didn’t Work”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Now that summer is slowly coming to an end, this is probably a good time to review what didn’t do well in the garden this year.  As I have posted throughout the summer, you have seen what flourished in the garden with all my photos of thriving and blooming plants.  Well, now I won’t bore you with photos of bare spots in the garden or containers that only hold dirt, but here goes with the disappointments of the growing season of 2009.

First big disappointment was the premature death of the cardoon I purchased in the spring.  I was so excited to get this plant as I had seen photos of this large architectural plant.  I planted it in a very large container (about 30 inches) and underplanted it with Margarite sweet potato vine.  The sweet potato vine thrived, but the cardoon expired after about six weeks.  I don’t know what happened.  The only thing I can think of is the extreme heat we experienced in early June.  I had such high hopes for this plant, but, alas, it was not meant to be for my garden.


Cardoon in better days

Cardoon in better days


Another disappointment was the mini silver supertunia.  I had planted this as an experiment to see if it would survive our summer as it is advertised to do.  It didn’t.  It did last until early August though.  I may try and plant this in the fall though.  Petunias do better for us when planted then and last until the heat of May.



Supertunia dead by August
Supertunia dead by August


A very big disappointment was the demise of the torenia Amethyst Ice.  I really did like these plants.  Two are still hanging in there but eight were lost.  I think that planting these in late May and then having the intense heat in early June is what did these in.  They just weren’t established well enough to take the unusual heat.  If I can get them earlier, I will plant these again next spring.  I wish that nurseries would realize we need to put plants in by the first of May so that they can settled in before the heat comes on.


Torenia before the temperatures hit 100

Torenia before the temperatures hit 100


Well, considering all the planting I did, having these not make it isn’t too bad; it is just that I wanted these to do well in the garden.  I looked forward to the cardoon and torenia especially.  I do think that the unusually high heat of early June is what caused their demise.  I kept things watered, but newly planted annuals can’t take temperatures in the low 100’s.  I just hope that next year we have a normal June weather pattern – rainy afternoons and temperatures in the low 90’s.  Give the plants a chance to settle in before the brutal weather of July and August arrive.



  1. Tatyana said,

    September 8, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    My condolences, Jan! I plan to get a cardoon next summer, it’s a gorgeous plant. Will see how he’ll do in our climate.

    • Jan said,

      September 9, 2009 at 4:53 am

      Tatyana, this is a gorgeous plant and will probably do well for you. I think if we would have had a normal early summer mine would have been okay. I’ll probably give cardoon another chance next year.

  2. Marnie said,

    September 9, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I have no experience with any of those plants so I can’t comment other than to say it’s too bad. I always lose things over the winters. A lot of plants can’t take our extreme cold and also my soil is heavy clay and is too damp for some plants.

    Somehow it is easier to lose them overwinter. There is so much growth in spring it kind of takes my mind off what didn’t return. There are a few things like lavender which just will not grow here. Still I try another variety in another location every year and hope.

    • Jan said,

      September 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm

      Marnie, you are right, it does seem easier when plants die over the winter than when they do in the summer. I, too, have learned that there are plants that just don’t like living here. Usually it is the hot, humid nights that do them in.

  3. Garden Mary said,

    September 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I’m glad to see I am not the only one who has failures. I know you are sorry they didn’t make it, but at least you tried something new. I agree about the early summer being a killer. We had temperatures in June that we normally see in August. Hopefully next year will be better.

    • Jan said,

      September 12, 2009 at 6:26 pm

      GM, everyone has failures. I figure that is how we learn how to garden. Even with our killer summer, I still think we might be in for an early fall and winter.

  4. Sandy said,

    September 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    What a shame the cardoon didn’t make it. I bet it would have been spectacular. Don’t give up, try it again next year.

    • Jan said,

      September 12, 2009 at 6:27 pm

      Sandy, if I can find one, I think I will give it another try. I really do think the early heat was too much for an unestablished plant. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. Eric said,

    September 9, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I lost a lot of plants this summer because of the heat. I agree with Marnie, it does somehow seem easier to accept the loss of plants in wintertime.

    • Jan said,

      September 12, 2009 at 6:27 pm

      I do too, Eric. So sorry you lost plants, too.

  6. donna said,

    September 10, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Low 100’s? My goodness, I don’t think I would have survived either. Wishing you and your plants some cool days and evenings.

    • Jan said,

      September 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks, Donna, I sure hope we get some cool weather soon. I am tired of the heat.

  7. September 10, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    The cardon is really nice especilly when it is young, I use to grow them but not this year. The tend to take up so much space in my potager.

    Have a great weekend Jan


    • Jan said,

      September 12, 2009 at 6:30 pm

      Tyra, I know these get large which is why I planted it in a large container. I didn’t have a place for it in the garden. I might give it a go next year.

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