Originally published July 19, 2012
By Ciscoe Morris, former In the Garden writer
Q: After waiting for five years, my Cardiocrinum giganteum finally bloomed, and it was magnificent. Do they always die after blooming?
A: There are few, if any, plants more impressive than the giant Himalayan lily, Cardiocrinum giganteum. The flower stalks typically reach over 10 feet tall and are adorned with as many as 20 strikingly beautiful, wonderfully fragrant, white, red-throated pendulous trumpet blooms.
Unfortunately, Cardiocrinums indeed die after blooming.
All is not lost, however. The mother plant usually forms several offsets in the form of underground bulbs. You can leave them where they lie, and a new clump of the giant lilies will form where the old plant died, or you can dig the bulbs in the fall and replant them in a bright, shady location in well-drained soil amended with compost. Plant them at the same depth as you found them.
You’ll need to be patient, though. It’ll take another four or five years before
the offsets will bloom again.
Q: What is chewing the petals off my dahlia blossoms?
A: Go out with your flashlight at night, and I can almost guarantee you that you’ll find earwigs are the culprits. These troublemakers love to chew on flowers. They tatter rose blooms, and they’ve been known to devastate dahlia flowers overnight.
Earwigs are notoriously difficult to squish, but there is a trick you can use
to catch them: Make a trap out of a standard-size plastic water bottle by
removing the lid and cutting the top third off where it thins at the neck.
Place a blop (a teaspoon) of canned fish-flavored cat food in the
bottom of the bottle. Then invert the part you cut off, and stick it back into
the top of the bottle so it’s aiming downward into the bottle like a funnel.
Tape the inverted top to secure it in the bottle. Finally, tape a string to
the top so you can hang the trap on your plant.
Canned fish-flavored cat food has the same effect on earwigs that a Brussels sprouts casserole has on me: It drives them crazy with desire. The little devils can’t resist the midnight snack and will enter the trap, only to discover they can’t find their way back out.
By the way, I hope you like cats … you’ll be making plenty of new kitty
Q: I planted a fragrant honeysuckle on the south side of a chain-link fence. It gets covered with powdery mildew and aphids every summer. Is there a way to prevent this?
A: Honeysuckle vines (Lonicera) make wonderful additions to the garden,
offering a long season of attractive, intoxicatingly fragrant flowers
that hummingbirds can’t resist.
I suspect the location where your honeysuckle vine is growing is the problem.
Honeysuckle vines are not drought-tolerant, and if they’re planted in a
hot, dry location, they’re often plagued with powdery mildew and aphids. Although the vines need to grow in full sun to bloom prolifically, the roots prefer a shady location in well-drained soil.
Provide shade to the roots by planting low-growing shrubs that will grow up in front of the vines to shade the roots. Next spring, rake and remove any fallen leaves that might be infested with powdery mildew fungus. Apply a layer of mulch over the roots, water regularly and blast off any emerging aphid colonies with a powerful spray of the hose.
Your fragrant honeysuckle vines should remain pest-free all season long.