Dead plant guilt

Okay, so regular readers know I’m a trial gardener for Proven Winners, which every spring sends me a big-ass box of annuals, perennials and shrubs to assay in my garden. The box’s arrival is always one of the highlights of my year. But with plant excitement cometh plant anxiety–what if my trial plants DIE? It’s one thing if they arrive dead; then you simply check off a box on a form and send it back. But what if you dutifully plant them, and then they … die?

I’m having this little problem, you see.

One of the plants Proven Winners sent this year was an anisodontea hybrid, ‘Slightly Strawberry.’ I had my suspicions to begin with, because who’s ever heard of a plant called anisodontea? And why are we hybridizing it if I’ve never heard of it? (Okay, okay–there’s a very brief listing on Wikipedia; it’s a member of the mallow family. This is also kind of scary, because the last thing I planted that was a member of the mallow family was Malva sylvestris, and it has proven a) unattractive; and b) impossible to eradicate, as it self-seeds at the drop of a hat.)

But my anisodontea–and of course Proven Winners sent me THREE plants–while advertised as “drought tolerant and easy to grow,” has, ahem, not. Grown, that is. Or even, really, survived. And it’s supposed to be a big, hardy thing, two to three feet tall and with an 18-inch spread. Too bad–I could have used something like that in the back of my bed. But I believe my anisondontea arrived infected with some sort of bug. (Though I have to admit, my Superbells ‘Blackberry Punch’ are pretty much browned out, too.) That’s a first for Proven Winners, in my experience, and I guess at some point I’m going to have to confess. I’m just glad it wasn’t a plant I was looking forward to more eagerly.

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners® provenwinners.com.

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