by: Shelly Nold
THERE ARE MANY PERENNIAL FLOWERS THAT THRIVE in a typical hot Kentucky summer. The Mexican evening primrose, Oenothera berlandieri, ‘Siskiyou Pink’ is certainly one of them and is very tolerant of dry poor soils. It is also sometimes referred to as Pink Ladies.
LARGE 2-INCH PINK FLOWERS cover the plant summer to early fall. The veins of the flowers are pronounced and pink while the petals are pink and fade to white toward the center. The flowers are open during the day and are almost translucent in the sunlight.
THE LEAVES ARE YELLOWISH GRASSY GREEN, slightly lobed or toothed, and linear in shape. The plant itself grows 4 to 6 inches tall, but with the flowers the plants can be 12 to 15 inches tall. It spreads readily even in dry or sandy soils so it is a great choice for a sunny, hot, and dry spot. Some would consider it invasive, so planting it in a poor site will help keep it from spreading too much in the garden.
BECAUSE OF ITS SMALLER SIZE and long bloom period, it is good for planting in the front of a perennial border and can be planted singly, but looks better when you plant at least three or more plants. The soft pink flowers stand out more in a mass or group planting. It combines well with other rock garden plants and looks interesting when in the vicinity of showy or creeping sedums and sempervivums, provided you keep the primrose from spreading into other areas. When summer is hot and dry the Mexican evening primrose will not back down—it grows and flowers as if it were springtime.
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 GARDENER
by: Angie McManus
Q When do you dig up multiplier onions? Do you cut the tops off or just let them dry up? Also, do you take them apart if there is a cluster or leave them together?
A Harvest fall-planted multiplier onions (potato onions and shallots) when 75 percent of the top growth has fallen over. Avoid adding additional moisture at this time. Gently pull up the clusters in dry weather. Be careful not to bruise the onions as this can increase rot during storage. Gently remove excess soil, although it is better to leave a bit of the soil intact. Move onions out of the direct sun to avoid sunscald and allow them to dry. Good air circulation is essential. You can also hang them in small bunches to dry.
After the onions are completely dry they are ready to be cured. Move onions to a shaded, dry space that is not too cool and spread on screens or wooden shelves. This process takes three to four weeks.
They are now ready for storage: remove all but 3/4-inch of the tops and store them in a cool (35-40 degrees) space that is dry and has good air circulation. You can separate the bulbs from the clusters now. Mesh bags or wooden crates with open slats work great for storage.