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Blackberry Lily Puts On A Color Show

ONE PERENNIAL FLOWER I enjoy growing is the blackberry lily, Belamcanda chinensis. Available in garden centers in spring or fall, it can be planted either season. At first glance, you would assume it is an iris because the foliage is quite similar. But once you see its flowers and then its fruit, you will know you are seeing something quite unusual.

THOUGHT TO BE A LITTLE WEEDY, I personally don’t find that to be an issue in my garden. It does come up from seed, but the plants are not aggressive. The plants are quite airy and don’t take up much space, so I usually leave them as long as they are not in the way. Enjoy the flowers in late summer and fruit in late summer and fall.

ALSO REFERRED TO AS A LEOPARD LILY due to its spots, the flowers are 1 to 2 inches in diameter and orange with reddish spots. Each flower doesn’t last long, but luckily there are multiple flowers on each flowering stalk.

FRUIT PRODUCED AFTER FLOWERING looks like a sweet soft blackberry, but don’t be fooled. The seeds are hard and inedible. They persist well into fall, making a fabulous late-season show in the garden. The blackberry lily stands 2 to 3 feet tall with the flowering and fruiting stalks.

THE PLANT GROWS BEST IN FULL SUN, but it also performs well in my garden where it gets morning shade. I planted it near a stone walkway where the soil is well-drained. It is fun to walk past and enjoy while it is in bloom or has its showy fruit.

Shelly nold is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.


ASK THE GARDNER

by Angie McManus

We want to dig up our azaleas and plant roses. Do we need to do anything to the soil before we plant the roses?

The first thing to consider would be the amount of sunlight this area receives. Azaleas can handle morning sun but prefer to be shaded from the hot afternoon sun. Roses, on the other hand, will take as much sun as they can get. They require a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight; eight or more would be ideal.

As for your soil, you can have it tested through your County Cooperative Extension Service for a minimal fee. The results will indicate if you need to amend the soil. If you have not added anything to the soil in a couple of years, it certainly would not hurt to do so.

After you remove the azaleas, you can work compost into the soil before planting your roses. You can call around to your local garden centers to see what products they carry for amending your soil. Really, though, the best thing to do is have your soil tested to know exactly what you need to add, if anything.


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