Perennials & Annuals

Fern sex

Ferns are amazing plants in their beauty alone. They’re even more amazing when you begin to understand how ferns propagate. They have no flowers to entice pollinating insects so … how does a fern have sex?

fern fronts as they open in spring

fern fronds as they open in spring

Gardeners who know and love ferns realize that spores – the brown structures that arise on the undersides of mature fern fronds – are a fern’s reproductive cells. Once mature, these cells leave their parent fern to venture out and multiply. What’s fascinating is how the spores leave the parent plant.

As described in a December 31, 2014 article in the Wonderful Things series in Scientific American, ferns use a technique called cavitation catapult to disperse spores.

The article provides drawings and a video diagram explaining how this process works. But here’s the best part for plant geeks … a video showing actual fern spores being launched by the cavitation catapult process.

This kind of stuff happens in gardens all the time, right under our noses as we merrily tend our plants. Gardening is not only one of the best ways to connect with nature, it’s a constant learning experience for those with curious minds and … it’s sexy.
But don’t just watch the video … follow the article link to better understand the whole process. Aren’t we all lucky to have scientists who take the time to question and learn about fern sex, and science writers such as Jennifer Frazer to explain it in a way average Jane and Joe gardeners can easily understand?
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Go bananas over ‘Going Bananas’ daylily

Do you love yellow? Do you love daylilies? If you answer yes to both these questions then, like me, you’ll go bananas over ‘Going Bananas’, a Proven Winners perennial that grows beautifully in my Zone 6, south-central Connecticut garden.

Hemerocallis ‘Going Bananas’ arrived on my doorstep in a 4 1/2 inch pot in July, 2011. Since its mature size is less than two feet, I planted the young ‘Going Bananas’ in full sun in front of a mounding Japanese holly, Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’, figuring the small, dark green holly leaves would perfectly offset the daylily’s yellow blossoms.

The first season ‘Going Bananas’ gave a hint of what was to come. At this young age the large blooms were a bit out of scale with its leaf mass, but it showed potential.

Hemerocallis 'Going Bananas'

Hemerocallis ‘Going Bananas’

By 2013, it had grown to a respectable size …

Hemerocallis 'Going Bananas' in 2013

Hemerocallis ‘Going Bananas’ in 2013

 

… and the yellow of the blossoms had deepened.

Hemerocallis 'Going Bananas' blossom 2013

Hemerocallis ‘Going Bananas’ blossom 2013

By 2014, its third season in my garden, ‘Going Bananas’ really showed its stuff. It was in full bloom from late June through mid-July and bloomed intermittently in late summer.

Hemerocallis 'Going Bananas' in 2014

Hemerocallis ‘Going Bananas’ in 2014

I loved that Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’ and ‘Going Bananas’ bloomed concurrently last season. One can never go wrong combining pale yellow and deep blue.

Hemerocallis 'Going Bananas' with Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise' in 2014

Hemerocallis ‘Going Bananas’ with Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’ in 2014

Proven Winners’ plant description lists the height of ‘Going Bananas’ as 19″-22″, but the blossoms reach to about 2 1/2′ in my garden. The flowers emit a sweet fragrance and the leaves remain attractive into autumn. During the three years growing it I’ve seen no disease or insect problems.

Outside of regularly removing spent blossoms – advisable for all daylilies,  ‘Going Bananas’ is very low maintenance. My one caution, don’t expect deer to ignore this or any other daylily. If you garden in deer-browse regions, plant ‘Going Bananas’ in a protected location.

Want more ‘Going Bananas’? Watch Proven Winners’ video and read their overview.

Disclaimer: I received this plant/shrub from Proven Winners as part of their garden writers plant trial program. I have received no compensation for growing or writing about these plants. My reports are based on how the plants/shrubs have performed in my Zone 6 garden in south-central Connecticut.

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