Green thumb is not needed

Five plants that can hang tough

June 14, 2008|By Beth Botts | Beth Botts,Chicago Tribune

"You think I'd crumble? You think I'd lay down and die? Oh no, not I. I will survive!"

So sang Gloria Gaynor in 1978. And sure enough, there are plants alive today that were thriving when disco was king. There are plants that are practically guaranteed to make it in your garden, even if they are the very first you've ever planted.

Note that adverb: "practically." No plant can live without the basics: water, sunlight, good soil and, most important, the right site.

So choose and prepare your site carefully, add water and fertilizer as needed - and chances are very, very good that these plants will survive, and even make you proud.


Where to plant: In a spot with afternoon shade. Chartreuse and white-streaked kinds need more sun; deeper greens tolerate quite deep shade. Keep blue-green varieties out of direct sun to preserve the color. Spread mulch over the root zone. Water once a week for the first year.

Achilles' heel: Deer and slugs. If you have deer in the neighborhood, don't plant hostas. As for slugs, the holes they chew in leaves are just a cosmetic problem, but they drive some gardeners nuts. For a discussion of slug-fighting, see

Russian sage

Where to plant: Full sun, in really well-drained soil. Break up clay soil by mixing in some sand, as well as plenty of compost. Water once a week for the first year. In early spring, prune back old, dry growth to 6 inches.

Achilles' heel: Can't tolerate soil that stays wet.


Where to plant: In full sun in compost-rich soil that is well-drained but reasonably moist. Water weekly the first year. For more blooms, remove spent flowers before they form seed pods. For daylilies, that means clipping off the whole flower stalk a couple of inches above the ground once all its buds have bloomed.

Achilles' heel: Planting too deep. Set the plant in the garden at the same level as it was in the pot.


Where to plant: In full sun in well-drained soil. To supply nutrients for constant flowering, dig a slow-release fertilizer into the soil when you plant. Water regularly. In pots, water even more frequently and sprinkle another dose of fertilizer on the potting mix in late July. Deadhead; pinch back plants in July when they get scraggly.


Where to plant: In full sun and (yup, you guessed it) well-drained soil. Dig in plenty of compost when you plant. Water weekly for the first year.

Achilles' heel: Can't tolerate soil that stays wet.

Beth Botts writes for the Chicago Tribune.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.