Forum home Problem solving

Melianthus major winter care

mandystarrmandystarr Gulf Islands, BC, Canada zone9aPosts: 17
Hello! I’m in the pacific north west in Canada, Zone 9a. I’m looking for suggestions as to winter care for my Melianthus major (which is a new-ish addition to my garden this past summer). 
«1

Posts

  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,199
    Hello, @mandystarr, I am in the south of England - this is mainly but not exclusively a UK site, so I don't know much about your conditions, but the key issue for melianthus is cold. Mine wither after a few hard frosts and go dormant until Spring, but we get little snow and the ground does not freeze hard deep down. You should probably try to provide what protection you can with a good mulch and perhaps some layers of fleece. I don't know what size the plant is but if it is only small a cloche might be a possibility.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 11,186
    I dig mine up each winter and put it in a cold greenhouse.
    He calls her the chocolate girl
    Cause he thinks she melts when he touches her
    She knows she's the chocolate girl
    Cause she's broken up and swallowed
    And wrapped in bits of silver
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,199
    Oh crumbs. I think I was thinking of the wrong plant! You can't pot these.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 11,186
    Luckily mine is not that big.
    He calls her the chocolate girl
    Cause he thinks she melts when he touches her
    She knows she's the chocolate girl
    Cause she's broken up and swallowed
    And wrapped in bits of silver
  • mandystarrmandystarr Gulf Islands, BC, Canada zone9aPosts: 17
    Thanks folks. My hardiness zone is Zone 9a: 20°F to 25°F. Right before Xmas we got an unusual amount of snow. We tend to get snow once that melts after a few days. However this past year was much worse than ever before with the unusual amount of snow and flooding. I did provide a lot of mulch and then created a structure over top of the plant (to keep both the heavy rains and snow off) - they are too big for a cloche unfortunately. In January they started to wither away. 

    I’ve got my fingers crossed they’ll survive and return this year. 
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,090
    They have very thick roots that in fact are difficult to dig up. My plant is in a south west corner of the garden by a wall and has been lovely all winter. It will stay that way into spring.  There will be a point when I will cut it down to ground level other plants near by then have their turn. If I leave it by June time it will start to look scruffy. Tiny shoots appear from the thick underground roots and at this point I have to be careful not to tread on it. Last year it did form flower buds but they did not develop .  I have propagated successfully from root cuttings, just as they start to shoot.  
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,199
    Mine usually succumbs to frost, the leaves go crispy and I cut them away in Spring. If it's a very mild winter they survive and the plant flowers and seeds in a rather dramatic way. I don't think they can take very severe cold but they cope well here.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,090
    As you can see I live in the Midlands. Aspect and the protection from the wall must be important.
  • mandystarrmandystarr Gulf Islands, BC, Canada zone9aPosts: 17
    An update: 
    I have four melianthus. All of them were mulched in the fall. During early winter, there are two that I cut back once the leaves started to die. The other two I left as is during the winter, until a few weeks ago when I cut back to where new growth appeared. The first two that I cut back in the winter, have not shown any new sign of new growth. 

    Recently I just came across a gardener from the Pacific North West coast, Ciscoe Morris, his advice from his website
    "Melianthus requires a sunny, in well-drained soil. During winter, the foliage often begins to look unsightly. When that happens cut the stems to about a foot tall and fill in around them to the top of the stems with fern fronds cut from our native sword fern Polystichum munitum. The fern fronds offer insulation, but more importantly, they repel excess water allowing just enough to penetrate to keep the roots alive while keeping them from rotting in our rainy winters. In mid-March, remove the fronds and you'll see new growth just beginning to emerge at soil level. Cut the old stems back to the new growth to enable fresh foliage to grow anew.
    Buy Melianthus in spring and plant these semi-tender perennials 4 to 6 inches deeper than they came out of the pot to increase hardiness and long-term survival. Even if your Melianthus 'Antonow's Blue' lasted only one season, it would be worth buying one of these spectacular plants, but I've had one growing in my garden for over 20 years, so with a bit of luck, this exotic shrub will add a touch of tropical paradise in your garden for years to come."

    :) Interesting tip about using fern fronds and how they repel excess water. 
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,090
    @mandystarr Thank you so much for the update. I think it goes to show how different growing conditions are with you. I cut back my Melianthus reluctantly only two weeks ago it had been beautiful all winter. It was just starting to look a little untidy and amazingly had formed flowers in the last month.All very strange it had obviously started growing again as the weather got warmer. I have cut each stem back to 1ft and it is shooting. I was tempted to leave a few of the leaves which looked good. However experience taught me to cut it all back for a good display, last years growth is always untidy if left.
Sign In or Register to comment.