August 6, 2008

5 Plants Even Beginners Can’t Kill

By beth botts of The

"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 first you've planted.Here are a few to try out:HostaWhere to plant: In a spot with afternoon shade. Spread mulch over the root zone. Water once a week for the first year.Achilles' heel: Deer and slugs.Russian SageWhere 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.DaylilyWhere to plant: In full sun in compost-rich soil that is well-drained but reasonably moist.Water weekly the first year.For more blooms, deadhead (remove spent blooms 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.PetuniaWhere 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.ConeflowerWhere to plant: In full sun and 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.

Originally published by beth botts of The Chicago Tribune.

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