Saxifrages in troughs - Fall 2011

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penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

I bought a camera and almost simultaneously killed my laptop. (Deleted non-restorable drivers, for those who want to know ...) It's supposed to snow again tomorrow so pictures would probably all come out white.
All of the porophyllum and silver saxifrages here are in home made hypertufa troughs. The mix is variable; sand, perlite, and scoria in about equal parts, with some organic matter thrown in. Pieces of broken styrofoam (ie, polystyrene, I think ....like fish boxes ...) are set in diagonally so that ornamental rocks can be set on top of them.
The plants need regular watering here. Saxes grown in tufa blocks need to have a fine layer of "squeegee" or ant gravel (collected from abandoned red ant hills ....both of these are garvel about 2mm in diameter) sprinkled on top to keep the tufa from drying out, which it will do here in a matter of hours.
The soilless mix in the troughs is frozen solid for at least two months in winter.
Glazed ceramic pots, so popular here, used to be able to be left outside for years, but in the last three winters, which have featured snow on the ground for three or four months, I've had both pots and birdbaths crack. One of the pots that cracked had been outside, and planted, for over 45 years.
I grow a lot of sempervivums and cactus in unglazed Mexican pottery and so far none of these has cracked.
I experimented a little with Thompson's Water Seal applied to the inside of the pots and this seems to work pretty well.

Bob

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

My oldest homemade hypertufa trough is almost 25 years old and bowl shaped, and shows no sign of giving up.  It sits on the ground, uncovered all winter, sometimes completely covered by snow, sometimes not.  This one has a chicken wire armature within the hypertufa.  Since then, I  have always used the fiberglass fibers mixed in the hypertufa for strength.  I have eleven hypertufa troughs, mostly straight sided.  None have ever cracked, although one  came apart at a seam.  My oldest styrofoam trough is a fishbox, and has survive six winters so far.  All it's ever need is a touch up of paint.

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

penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

I've had a few troughs break, due to faulty engineering. One broke when the dog stood on it to look over the fence. For some reason I thought balancing it on two cinder blocks standing on end would give it some height.
I had one break in half, but I glued it back together and it's been fine for about 15 years.
Another one had the end broken off when I put all my weight on it to do some weeding, and I put the end back in place with decking screws. The resulting, very visible crack, is for "drainage".  But then, this same trough has two holes drilled in the side of it, because I wanted to plant some dionysias in the holes (the sides of the troughs are beveled or slanted so that the tops are wider than the bottoms), but the dionysias fell out of the holes when I watered the trough from above (that engineering thing again) and I didn't notice it for several days.

Bob

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

Lincks
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-16

I have three hypertufa troughs from Stonecrop Gardens in NY and they seem very durable.  I have one rectangle and two square shaped troughs and want to add a circle or oval shaped trough next spring.  I haven't seen the circle ones for sale.  I'll have to check with Farmbrook. 

Anonymous
Title: Guest

I am attaching pictures of the flower pots I wrote about previously.  The 12 inch glazed ceramic pot has survived the winters fine.  The 16 inch glazed ceramic pot has cracked, but is still useable.  The larger glazed ceramic pots all cracked into multiple pieces and were discarded.  I have also included a picture of the 18 inch plastic pot I am trying.  This seem to be difficult to find locally.  I am hoping this plastic pot will be able to withstand the freeze thaw cycle better.  I switched plants around in these pots just this Spring.

James

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

You will probably have better luck with any bowl shape that has no vertical sides at all.  This will better allow for expansion as the soil freezes, and the the soil can climb up the sides rather than push the sides out.

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

penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

Saxifrages in troughs.
I don't know why the ones growing closest to the fence die out so much; maybe they don't get as much water or something.
They do tend to grow together rather disgracefully. There is a serious Labor-Management problem in the garden here.

Bob

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

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

Bob, really nice troughs fiull of silver saxifrages, inspiring.  In your trough5 photo, do I spy some foliage of Aquilegia saximontana?

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

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

James wrote:

I am attaching pictures of the flower pots I wrote about previously.  The 12 inch glazed ceramic pot has survived the winters fine.  The 16 inch glazed ceramic pot has cracked, but is still useable.  The larger glazed ceramic pots all cracked into multiple pieces and were discarded.  I have also included a picture of the 18 inch plastic pot I am trying.  This seem to be difficult to find locally.  I am hoping this plastic pot will be able to withstand the freeze thaw cycle better.  I switched plants around in these pots just this Spring.

James

Here we can buy glaceed ceramic pots which are frost-proof. If the ceramic absorbs water it cracks. And as Rick says, the sides of the pots are better V-shaped (or U) than A or O-shaped. The freezing soil has to have somewhere to expand.

Bob, I like your troughs!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

The troughs were made using a wooden mould my wife built for me. They're fairly big (and heavy). 75cm long, 50 cm wide, give or take.  Porophyllum saxifrages were my wife's favorite rock garden plant so there are a lot of them here. (In other words, she didn't mind me spending money on them.)
I cover them with chicken wire in winter to keep the rodents out. It works, sort of.
Attached was taken on a frosty morning (-5C), about fifteen minutes ago (so I've been awake for less than an hour), showing Sax. caucasica leaning over the edge of the trough. I think S. ferdinandii-coburgii is here too, and another whose label is buried. A Primula allionii hybrid or cultivar, and in the upright cage, Daphne 'Ernst Hauser'. (That cage is to prevent the little daphne from being mashed by the chicken wire.)
When the garden is on tour all the armor is removed, of course.
(Mark, that aquilegia seeding everywhere is the little one from Rick Lupp, labeled A. grahamii, but non-glandular.)

Bob

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

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