Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cedar Waxwings

I didn't know that cedar waxwings drank nectar.  The hummingbirds were not amused.

By the way, the plant is called a red hot poker plant (also known as a torch lily and by other names.)  I got the start for this one from my friend Jane.  The leaves on these amazing plants can look somewhat shabby, especially at winter, but they're worth having around for their spectacular displays and their magical bird-attracting powers.  They also are a favorite of bees and some butterflies.  

If you want a red hot poker plant give it plenty of room.  They spread slowly and steadily and are difficult to dig out.  If you want to contain one to a certain area, put it in a big plastic container (like the kind nurseries keep large trees in) and bury the container.  

By the way, slugs love red hot poker plants.  Start baiting for slugs in early spring by sprinkling some English formula slug bait deep under the leaves in a couple of places.  Don't worry about getting the middle--in fact, if you get some slug bait on the stalk buds in the center of the plant you run the risk of poisoning the birds should rain fail to rinse it all off.  Just lift up the draped leaves on the sides and shake the slug bait underneath.  Doing it this way will hopefully limit how many animals get into it.  If you have a lot of wildlife or household pets you need to protect, use wildlife-safe pellets or just put the regular slug bait under a rock or heavy pot.  The slugs will contort themselves to get to the bait.  If you don't bait for slugs you may get a lot of deformed flowers, if you get any at all, during those bad slug years.

It's easy to get starts for the red hot poker, or you can grow them from seed.  Divide the red hot poker in the spring (although you can get away with it almost any time of the year) or get seeds through a catalogue or from a neighbor.  If you want blossoms through the fall you have to deadhead the spent stalks.

I think I'll go sit in my garden some more.  It's been a beautiful day.


Carissa said...

Ah, the Rocket Pop plants!

You know, Mom has these popping up again in her backyard, in that corner where I cut down the lilac. She despises them (but as they were Ron's favorite, I think it's nice that they are back). I may have to dig them out for her and transplant them over here, where she will have to suffer them (along with my hostas) when she builds her house next door.

I love the Rocket Pop plants. They are just so fun!

Kami said...

They are lovely, and you have the space for them! If you put them in sight of a window you can watch the hummingbirds. Just don't put them too close to the house as they're dense enough that they can rot siding. I'm surprised that in the Dave's Garden plant profile they go on and on so much about giving them adequate drainage. I've had them grow just fine in very wet conditions. Dry is best, of course, but my mom has them in partial shade and consistently damp soil and she's never mentioned issues with rot. They're just so darned tough!

I don't have room in the spot they're in but I'm thinking about starting another colony and trying yuccas in front of them. Yucca leaves never look shabby and they get tall enough to block sight of some of the bent stalks without blocking out all the torch lily's light. They actually look really handsome in the tall grass, too, but I don't want tall grass in my bird and rose gardens.

Hmm. I may have to put them down in the meadow too, and other places about the lower property. I always keep my eyes open for plants that need next to no care so I can spruce up the endless blackberry/grass with spots of color and wildlife-supporting food and shelter. I hadn't thought of doing it with this plant, but it's grown enough that it's time to cut in the edges anyway. I wonder how big a patch would get after, say, twenty years if it was left in the 'wild'?