This is my second summer growing the large nicotianas “Mutabilis” and “Alata”. I have also added this year “Crimson Bedder”, which I found on line at Annie’s Annuals. When I bought small plants of the first two in 2020, they formed basal rosettes around a foot wide, and their flower spikes reached three to four feet. Before the freezes , I dug up one “Alata” and four “Mutabilis”. They spent the winter in the great room’s south window and did well. They did not try to bloom, and instead had offshoots that I put in new pots. Soon I had a collection of them.

In mid July the Nicotiana mutabilis plants have basal rosettes two to three feet in circumference. They are as big as big hostas.

The plant pictured above has a double rosette. I cannot imagine how spectacular this will be. I will have to stake it, but that is no problem, and never will I wake up in August to find that the groundhog has eaten it, for it is poisonous.

The above is “Crimson Bedder”, which Annie’s says can reach four feet. These will be coming inside for the winter too.

“Alata” is tall, but less robust, and I am not certain I want it another summer for it is underwhelming alongside the other two-

I have grown the showy “Only the Lonely” nicotiana, but I found it wanting. It did not bloom long enough and grew shabby. I am certain others have had better luck than I.

Next summer I will be moving the Purple and Pink Dome asters to my sister’s garden, and I will move the phlox as well. They have been decimated by the groundhog.

I have never seen a gray leaved plant chewed up by a groundhog. They go after Aster cordifolius, cosmos, Aster patens, the showy Evening primrose, Aster “Lady in Black, “Kiss me over the Garden gate”, and every phlox they can reach. They don’t eat sedums that I can see, and I have found the following plants bulletproof, at least in my garden-

Salvias, artemesias, hostas, zinnias, persicarias, , daylilies, goldenrods, agastaches, lantanas, cannas, gomphrenas.

I should add that the groundhog will ruin coneflowers by biting off the buds, and they will do the same to the low growing rudbeckias. I have a vegetable garden protected by an electric fence, but how can one protect flower borders. I may try a trap next week, but it must be disabled before dark, or I might be dealing with a skunk. I think it is easier to plant the plants the groundhogs won’t touch. But this is a rural area, and do these animals not have natural predators? My neighbor is one. He has a shotgun, but he will not shoot around granite walls. The other killers would be foxes and coyotes and bobcats. Where are they?

Published by talesofanashvillegardener

Professional gardener, Experimental Cook. Constant Reader

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