Epimedium 2013

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Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Mark - do you find that you get good establishment of the epimediums you plant? Many that I have had have been pretty small and seem to sit still for ages before getting going (if they do). When they do they go from strength to strength and, like Trond says, I'm quite reluctant to disturb them. Judging by many of the pictures of your garden you must have good conditions for many woodlanders, and maybe we are just a little too dry.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

deesen wrote:

Many congrats. on the new job Mark, hope life will be an awful lot less stressful for you.

Thanks David!  Yes, the stress level will be much more manageable from now on, saving 3-1/2 to 4 hrs a day not having to commute.  Even with a car getting good mileage (Subaru Outback, 30 mpg), I still estimate I spend $3500 per year in gas for all that commuting.  Just think of how many Epimedium that can buy! ;D :o

Tim wrote:

Mark - do you find that you get good establishment of the epimediums you plant? Many that I have had have been pretty small and seem to sit still for ages before getting going (if they do). When they do they go from strength to strength and, like Trond says, I'm quite reluctant to disturb them. Judging by many of the pictures of your garden you must have good conditions for many woodlanders, and maybe we are just a little too dry.

Yes, I find that young epimedium plants establish quickly, although I do prioritize keeping them watered regularly.  The plants purchased at Garden Vision are amazing, sold in tiny square pots, growing in a very porous planting mix composed mostly of bark mulch (the eppies love this), they are always heavily rooted and ready to go. Looking back at my photographic records, the jump in plant size the 2nd & 3rd year is always surprising.  I do think that well rooted eager-to-grow small starts are sometimes better than setting out big potted plants, the larger soil mass can become a self-containing "island", versus the small all-roots "plugs" that are ready to expand in one's native soil.

I've taken a cue from GVE, and plant in a soil mixture that is 50% decomposed bark mulch (pine bark, sometimes a mix with fir bark as well), keep them watered.  At GVE, they plant on steeply mounded soil, which I tried emulating in my garden.  I'm going back to planting them more on the flat because my garden is too dry, and those on the steep incline are more prone to drought.

Hoy wrote:

Regarding dividing plants; I usually do that early spring or late fall. But like you Mark I don't like to disturb settled plants unless they benefit from dividing. Sometimes if a visitor wants a plant I cut off at the edge of the clump with a sharp spade or something without disturbing the whole plant. Should work for eppies too, shouldn't it?

I agree Trond, that's how I have increased my epimedium so far, I just cut away at the edge of a big clump to get a few small pieces, leaving the big clump intact, but even so, its very difficult work, epimediums have such dense & tough roots.  When visiting GVE nursery, the proprietor Karen Perkins is typically sitting at a wheelbarrow dividing epimediums; fascinating to watch.  She uproots the whole plant, shakes off and washes all soil off the roots, then uses sharp snipping scissors to cut rhizomes into small pieces with several growth points, and pots them up (these will be next season's sale plants). It gives me the courage to try this myself.  I think spring is the only time to divide epimedium here, late summer or autumn division would be fatal.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Thanks Mark - I will add bark when I plant from now on and keep a closer eye on watering, maybe a foliar feed to encourage the roots to grow away. The porous planting mix you mention is similar to that which Crug Farm in North Wales use for a lot of choice woodlanders; our soil is relatively heavy so I probably need to add bark and more compost to it.

The trouble with so many good new varieties is that when you lose track of a name it can be hard work finding it again! This is a plant that has established well under apple trees and it would be great to repeat this with other forms under a couple more rows of apples.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Tim, that's a most attractive Epi, but you've lost the name?  I think epimediums are excellent underplantings for trees, as long as the tree roots are not that intensive.  The only ornamental tree that I've found has such a dense surface root system to prevent most underplanting is Stewartia pueudocamellia, although Iris cristata forms have no problem skimming along the top layer of bark mulch.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

McDonough wrote:

deesen wrote:

Many congrats. on the new job Mark, hope life will be an awful lot less stressful for you.

Thanks David!  Yes, the stress level will be much more manageable from now on, saving 3-1/2 to 4 hrs a day not having to commute.  Even with a car getting god mileage (Subaru Outback, 30 mpg), I still estimate I spend $3500 per year in gas for all that commuting.  Just think of how many Epimedium that can buy! ;D :o

Mark, I am delighted to hear of this further change in your working life - this is just what you needed - may you  live long and prosper ! 

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Thanks Maggi, it's amazing just how such a favorable change can affect one's disposition and outlook on things. I'm so eager for the 2013 Epimedium season, I had to shelve my hybridization plans the last two years, but this year will be different, already starting to formulate my strategy.  I want to start into attempted woodland Iris hybridization too.

Now, back to perusing online Catalogs for more Epimediums, have at least 2 more orders to make.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I have a rather poor example of Epimedium stellulatum 'Wudang Star' in my garden.  It was sold as Epimedium stellatum 'Wudang Star'.  Some pics:

Mostly Jeffersonia dubia foliage in the first photo.
   

Foliage in May and November.
   

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

This past fall I cut down the large ash tree that shaded my dwarf epimediums.  The Emerald Ash bored will be here in the next few years, anyway.  So it is good to know I'll be transplanting/dividing at the right time this spring.  I plan to dig just before leaves emerge.

But Mark, I suspect you were at Garden Visions nursery at bloom time, and saw Karen dividing epimediums then???
So what is the best window of opportunity for dividing?

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Rick, the November pic of E. stellulatum 'Wudang Star' is what I love about them, the evergreen species transform their tender spring foliage into substantial leathery leaves, beautifully netted with dark autumn/winter tones. It shall be interesting to hear of successes with Epimedium in your Zone 4, to see how many species and cultivars are up to the Michigan climate.

So far as propagating Epimedium, the best time is undoubtedly as they first emerge in March and April.  By May, they're in full flower, it doesn't hurt them to divide them at that time (although one will probably lose the flowers), or even shortly after flowering.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Continuing to summarize this year's Epimedium orders from mail-order nurseries, here is what I ordered from Arrowhead Alpines.  I'm happy to get the two forms of E. franchetii.  Garden Vision Epimediums has many more varieties than they propagate and sell, and sometimes a particular species or cultivar is offered only on one particular year, so it's easy to miss acquiring them.  Glad to see such collections getting around and becoming available.

Order 3:
1   E. dolichostemon
1   E. ecalcaratum
1   E. franchetii
1   E. franchetii cc 950065 (GVE collection)
1   E. pubescens OG 91.003 (Ogisu collection)

~$99 with packaging and shipping.
5 Epimedium plants, average cost with shipping:  $20

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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