Gardeners! Question about Perennials

Okay…so as I’ve said in other threads, I have a very shady yard http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/karlen1956/detail?.dir=7d04re2&.dnm=f38a.jpg.

The shady area in the upper center of the picture is pretty much as sunny as it gets.

I just purchased two yellow lilies that are pretty much done blooming for the year. I also have a Mystery Plant that is a clump of very thin stems that stand about 8 in. tall and have a dime-sized purple-and-white flower on the end. There are probably 20 little blooms on this.

The tags said “partial sun” but I don’t think any of the spots I have available will get enough sun to sustain them. I set the original pots inside decorative pots and put the lilies on the deck and the Mystery Plant in near-full sun in the birdbath in the middle of my yard. It appears to be doing well.

My SIL says if I leave them in the pots they came in, they’ll completely die off. Is this true? Can I plant them in that shady area in the picture? Can I stick them in the cellar and let them go completely dry over the winter and then bring them out again in the spring, water them, and let them spring back to life? I don’t know anything about this whole perennial business. Can anyone tell me what my options are? Thanks!

The thing with the purple flowers is some species of Aster - possibly a Michaelmas daisy.

You might get away with planting plants that require partial sun in the foreground area of that wooded spot, but back in the deeper shade, you probably won’t succeed. The surrounding trees will be competing with your plants for nutrients and they will be doing it quite well, so it will probably be necessary to feed anything you plant there until it is properly established.

Oops… that’s assuming that the plant with purple flowers you’re describing is the same one depicted in one of your photos, which you didn’t specify.

Oh, no! That’s one of my beeeautiful weeds! I’ll try to get a picture of the little flower I purchased.

Here are the plants in question: http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/karlen1956/detail?.dir=7231re2&.dnm=aca6re2.jpg&.src=ph

Based on the photo you posted, I’d classify your yard as “partial sun.” I do see some sunny spots, which, presumably, sort of move around as the sun moves from east to west.

Your SIL is full of beans. As long as you water plants in their original pots (and don’t leave 'em in a dark closet for six months) they’ll be fine. After a certain point, they get root-bound and won’t grow any larger, even if they are capable of becoming larger, most perennials will grow to the point where their container can support the above-ground portion of plant. If that makes any sense at all to you?

I wouldn’t stick 'em in the cellar. Pop 'em into the ground right where they are, since they appear to be happy with the amount of light, air and water they’re currently getting. You don’t say where you are geographically, and that would change my winter instructions, but basically, the beauty of perennials is simple. You plant 'em, water once in a a while, and you’re done.

Oh yeah, the absolute worst thing that could happen (besides neglecting them in a dank basement until they die) would be if they don’t do well… you can ALWAYS dig 'em up and move 'em to another spot. Gardeners constantly move stuff.

I’m hesitant to pop ‘em in the ground where they are because as you can see it’s in the middle of my grass/weed yard and I’d have to dig a new bed. I don’t know if I’m up to it. As the picture shows, this particular spot gets the most sun, and those little dudes seem to like that. But it’s a rather clumsy spot to put a bed, as the septic is directly beneath it. So if I can leave them in the pot for the winter (I’m in Chicago so it gets mutherin’ cold in the winter), that would be my ideal solution.

Agree that you’ve got more sun than you realize – the purple ones (which I don’t recognize, so much for my credibility), if listed as partial shade, should do fine in the ground. In general, in the ground is better than in a pot.

Lilies do better with a lot of sun, though I’ve got some in a spot that used to be significantly sunnier than it is now, and they’re hanging in. They don’t care to be moved, which I why I’m leaving them there. (Dogzilla is right, though, gardeners move stuff all the time – but some plants (a minority) do get pissed off about it.) If you don’t have a good sunny spot for them, they’re probably better off in a pot on your deck. You may want to consider moving them to a larger pot now, though, since “the pot they came in” is probably a fairly flimsy one-gallon container. Go to Target or somewhere, get an attractive pot, make sure it has holes in the bottom (drill some, if there aren’t any), and plant them in that.

Well, you could leave them in containers. They would probably be fine. I’d consider replanting them in larger containers, making sure they have adequate drainage and that includes dropping some gravel in the bottom of the pot. (Or styrofoam peanuts, those are lovely for that.) I’m going to pretty much assume that the pot will freeze solid, but the ground would anyway, too, right? (I live in a no-freeze zone.) I’m going to guess it wouldn’t make much difference.

I’ve always wondered that anyway: how DO plants know they’re in pots? For all my plants know, they could be living in a very, very tiny island. For example, I grow about a dozen different wickedly hot peppers, all in containers in m driveway. When I graduate to the correct size pot, I find the plants grow up just fine, produce fruit and continue their little life cycles just as if I’d planted them in the ground. I’m currently growing carrots in an old kitty litterbox lid. The carrots have no idea…

So do whatever you’d normally do for the winter to protect the roots of the plants: insulate the pots somehow. You could also bring 'em inside and pop a grow light bulb into a regular lamp and keep the plants around that lamp. All they’ll need is 6-8 hours of fake “sun” a day and they’ll just keep going through the winter. (And water normally.)

It’s another option.

Ok. I just scoped out other possibilities. I have a bare spot under a tree. Probably about 4 x 4. It is on the west side of the lawn and at this early hour, is in full sun. That will dissipate to full shade by early afternoon. I have some ground cover that would work good in that spot. Can I put the adorable purple flower in with ground cover? It’s called White Nancy and is a dark and light green leaf with little white flowers about twice a year. It grows very fast. Will that choke off the little purple dude?

Does the tag have a Latin name? I have no clue what that plant is (some “up north yankee plant” :wink: )

The adorable purple thing will probably look nice with the ground cover, which I doubt would choke off the little purple dude. Just give the purple dude plenty of room (maybe 4-6 inches between plants) and if the ground cover starts taking over, move the purple dude.

Sounds good. Post a pic when you’re done! (please)

Must admit, I’m momentarily stumped on the purple plant; it definitely isn’t periwinkle; neither is it hardy geranium (the flowers look like geranium, but the leaves are wrong).

I’m going to hazard a guess that this is a member of the Primulaceae.

Appearances can be deceptive, but the purple-flowered thing does look like a woodland plant - i.e. the sort that will do OK in dappled shade.

Okay…I think I’m sold on the ground-cover-and-purple-dude-under-the-tree option. I’ll go toss 'em in, take a pic, and post it.

YOU SO SMART! Thanks for all the help!

Actually, I’m going to revise my guess; Campanulaceae, not Primulaceae. Still think it will do OK in dappled shade though.

Hoo-kay! Here’s my under-the-tree creation:

I think its going to look great! Thanks!

Yeah, that is going to look nice.

Make sure you keep it well watered while it’s getting established.

Yeah, I just gave 'em a good drink and the ground under that tree has been leaf-covered for about a gazillion years, so it’s really absorbent soil. I’m hoping it will retain lots of moisture.

I’ll post pics throughout the summer. I’m totally blown away by how fast the ground cover fills in. When I bought it like 15 years ago, I bought four tiny little plants and put them in the four corners of a 3 x 6 bed. They filled in completely within about 1.5 seasons. They’re Out Of Control in that bed, which is partially why I moved some. I give it to anyone who drops by!

You are quite correct on both counts.