An Alameda Garden: Love the Flower, Hate the Plant

Monday, May 03, 2010

Love the Flower, Hate the Plant

What do you do when a long-awaited bloom finally appears and opens and it is gorgeous? I mean, bold and delicate at the same time, totally eye-catching, jaw-droppingly gorgeous? But wait. There's a catch. The plant that beautiful bloom is hanging on is a horror!

Such is the case with this black poppy I got last year from Annie's Annuals. I planted it in the fall and I knew pretty quickly that there was going to be a problem. Turns out there were a few. The first was aphids. They absolutely love this plant and have been feasting on it ever since it went in the ground. They crowd around the veins on the backs of the leaves where it's nearly impossible to dislodge them effectively with a blast from the hose. For all the juice they've sucked out of the plant, they haven't stunted its growth any. Which leads to the second problem--the plant is a sun hog. I put it in a spot where it gets sun most of the day, but it quickly sprawled along the ground about a foot away from where it was planted in order to grab more sun and then it shot up about three feet high--one long, gangly stem with several buds at the end. The base of the plant is ugly and bare, the rest looks about as good as it you can expect it to look given its poor form and bug infestation. But overall, the effect is: yuck!

There is never a time that I walk by this plant without fighting the urge to rip it right out of the ground and be done with it. But the flower! I really love its frilliness and the color is exactly what I wanted for this spot (a black-and-white garden). In the end, however, I think it's going to have to go. I plan on waiting until the seeds are ready to be harvested, collecting them for seeding elsewhere in a super-sunny spot, and then this unattractive plant will get an introduction to my composting bin.

Anyone else had a similar dilemma?

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