Gardening Failures, Part 1

When it comes to gardening, I have failed a lot. Over time, I’ve come to accept that this is all part of learning how to garden in general, and in my garden in particular.

First, I should define failure. It’s different for everyone, but in my cases, it’s been one of the following:

  • Seeds never germinating
  • Seedlings never becoming full grown plants
  • Plants making it to ‘adulthood’ but not surviving as long as might be expected
  • Plants surviving and living out their expected lifespan, but not thriving.

I’ve had failures in each of the above categories.

My most recent failure was a bunch of lavender seedlings, which germinated on my windowsill and then flopped over within a few days of emerging from the soil. I have no idea what went wrong.

These lavender seedlings probably never stood a chance.

The saddest failures, for me, have been my clematis and pink coreopsis. The clematis did well for a few years, but it seems that last summer simply was too hot and dry for it. It also probably got a bit root bound in the container it was in. It was a gorgeous plant, though, and I suspect I will try again with the same or a different clematis variety eventually.

Coreopsis is a plant that loves hot summers, which my concrete oven definitely provides. Unfortunately, it seems to be winter that did my coreopsis in. We had an especially mild winter this year, so I suspect that it was the damp, rather than the cold, that was the problem.

Nasturtiums are a plant that is supposedly easy to grow from seed, but I found them difficult to get started. I managed on my third try, but I’m not really sure why it worked—just that it did. That said, I am sure I will eventually try again, especially now that I’ve stumbled across a few pink cultivars. (Plant and seed catalogs are dangerous.)

Nasturtium. This was my 3rd attempt, and the plants still don’t look so great.

Cosmos and cornflowers are also supposed to be nice, easy annuals. The ones I planted last year did all right, but the the plants just weren’t that nice looking. I’m trying the cosmos again this year, though. The seedlings are looking pretty good so far, but they’re only about two inches tall, so we’ll see.

A droopy cornflower plant with one flower.

I have also, believe it or not, had trouble with hyacinth bean vines in the past—at least until last year, when suddenly, I seemed to have gotten the hang of them. Suddenly, hyacinth bean vines became one of my best garden successes, and I happily gave seeds to almost every gardener I knew.

This was take 2 with the hyacinth beans. The patio chair was eventually rescued.

You may have noticed that I titled this post “Gardening Failures, Part 1.” I’m not sure when I’ll post Part 2, but I know I will eventually. I’m always tempted to try (and retry) things, and I’m sure I will have other failures. I just don’t know what they are yet.

4 thoughts on “Gardening Failures, Part 1

  1. If I counted all my garden failures I would probably give up gardening. 😬 Seed starting is hard and not everyone is good at it. I rarely bother to start stuff from seed, except for the really easy stuff like chard, radishes, beans, etc. I have yet to succeed at nasturtiums. I have killed more plants than I can count. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Next post should be Garden Successes – part 1 of 4000! 😜

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    • I’m trying to think of them as learning opportunities.

      I keep meaning to post a June update, but it felt important to talk about other things first.

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      • Oops!!! I forgot to tell you about my most recent failure, of which I am really embarrassed. I killed the heir and the spare (figs). I think they must have dried out when we had them in the garage during the cold snap. If/when you are ready I’ll try again.

        And, yes, other things are more important right now.

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    • Apparently replies only go 3 deep. I’m sorry about the heir and the spare, but maybe it’s for the best. It’s looking like I’m not leaving my 5 block radius for the next several months. Theoretically Philly is in the yellow phase but it still doesn’t feel safe enough for that.

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