Aug 252009
Alas It’s Dead, My ‘Husker’s Red’

Every gardener experiences loss. In fact some gardeners experience more loss than others but eventually no matter what kind of gardener you are (experienced or not) you will lose a plant. Sometimes the plant fades away and you don’t even notice it disappeared until later when you think “Didn’t I have a [insert whatever plant name you like] here?” Often you will forget about it over the winter and in the spring they just don’t come back and then sometimes they fade so fast that they leave a gaping hole in the garden. Prepare yourself, if you’ve never lost a plant either you’re blessed, lucky, or you raise plastic plants!

Recently one of my ‘Husker’s Red’ Penstemons took a turn for the worse. It tanked. It was all very sudden. I don’t think it felt any pain but its loss will be felt in the Japanese maple garden. So what caused my penstemon’s sudden spontaneous decline? I suspect the culprit is a fungus caused by all the rain we had. The crown of the roots where the stems emerge from appears to have rotted away. I have two thoughts now.  One, the garden is too wet for drought tolerant plants; and two I had better move my other Penstemon before it goes the way of the proverbial dinosaur!

My other penstemon is doing fine as you can see, at least for now.

Recently I was able to find more ‘Husker’s Red’ Penstemon on sale for less than $3 a plant. I picked up two and planted them this weekend in a new location. So tell me, what plants have died in your garden lately? And how are you coping with your loss?


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

Reader Comments

  1. Actually, I've had the reverse situation. I just discovered that a Penstemon 'Pike's Peak Purple' that I thought succumed over the winter is alive. Why it waited until the middle of August to make its reappearance is a complete mystery to me. So sometimes, it's good not be hasty with replacing "dead" plants. I guess that makes my coping strategy one of patient optimism.

  2. It's hard when prized plants croak! Especially when they look fine and then they look dead! I've this really fantastic Penstemon X…(aka P calycosus) that tolerates wet and dry.
    I must get you a few for the garden.

    What's croaked here? Zinnias! believe it or not! They haven't been germinating and then the transplants are not thriving! I keep planting more in hopes that something will change for them!


  3. Well, the nearest I came to true despondency was when I thought my 'Lightening Strikes' tricyrtis had died over the Winter. Thankfully there's one tiny little plant that's slowly growing. It came up very, very late. I'm going to take very good care of it this Fall. Hopefully it survives the Winter.

  4. We are right now loosing one of our Japanes Maples the 'Ozakasuki'! It's been here for a couple of years but last fall was very dry and with a lot of autumnwinds, that's probably why it's suffering and fading right now. I've tried to cut away some of the branches that's already dead and keeps giving it water since it's so dry now. Hoping that it might survive after all / gittan

  5. Oh, I don't like it when a plant is going slowly and you have worked so hard to save it but all the babying didn't help! And yes, so much rain this year.

  6. Hi,
    I recently lost a 'Rose of Sharon- Minevra' plant. Have no idea why? It just dried up, when the buds were still there. There's another one right next to it and it looks fine.

    I am new to gardening , so don't really know what happened.

  7. So sorry to hear about Husker, Dave. Ours have self seeded all over the place, but some original plants have died. It may be they are short lived but have so many babies one doesn't really notice? Deaths? The heuchera citronelle I am trying to fill the front raised planter with, lost maybe half of the divisions. Will try again in winter, that seems the best time to divide them.

  8. I hate losing plants, but I guess it is just something that happens everynow and then.

    I hzave lost a Banana Tree seedling, Colocasia 'Black Pearl', and I think I am currently losing a young Palmetto.


  9. MMD,

    Ah if only I could wait and have it come back! It is as dead as a doornail and rotted to the roots. But I have had the reverse happen as well where you get a welcome surprise when you thought all was lost!


    Sorry about the zinnias! Ours are still pumping out the blooms. I wonder if you got powdery mildew?


    Good luck with your tricyrtis! Maybe a little extra mulch this winter?


    I managed to make a couple spares through propagation but they aren't big enough to replace the original yet. I was really happy to find the deal I did on the new 'Husker's Reds'.


    I've only seen them in one place this year around here. It's a shame the box stores would do well in sales with Persian Shields!


    Me neither, but that's just life in the garden!


    Sometimes it happens that way. One perfectly good plant stays and the other fades. It could be something in the soil or a disease and then again some times its just a mystery.


    I'm hoping for some self seeding with the other HR. I saved some of the seed pods for a gardener directed seeding!


    You're right, it just happens sometimes. I wish we could avoid it but it gives us a chance to plant new things in different spaces!

  10. You are right about replacing th plants with new plants. I have actually liked a new plant better, then the old plant that died.

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