Mystery plant of the week

This little beauty appeared in my garden as a small sprout on its own. I think it may be in the Hosta family. Can you identify it?


The photo sent was a short, spreading plant with simple leaves marked with a chevron of dark brown on the pointed green leaves. This is not a hosta. The leaves are not thick and waxy like most hostas and the structure is a soft mound.

I suspect it is a variety of Persicaria (Knotweed, Popcorn) Probably the Asian invasive, Persicaria filiformis (sometimes Polygonum), a plant that produces lots of seeds and self-sows itself in a dense mat that can choke out desirable native plants.

See the article, Don’t Jump to Conclusions about Asian Jumpseed ( on the Maryland Invasive Species Council website.

There is a native variety, Virginia knotweed (Persicaria virginiana), which can be easily confused with the Asian invader. This article shows examples of both plants and notes subtle differences between them, however, the article also mentions that these plants interbreed easily, so it is neither. One noted difference is the dark and sharp edges of the chevron on Asian knotweed and the softer edges on native that fade as the leaves mature. Due to hybridization, many traits are confusing, including the word “generally” in descriptions, it is difficult to make a firm identification.

Most gardens have some sort of ornamentation or non-plant furniture. Now, while we still have nice warm days, it’s a great time to clean up and put away items that need winter storage or protection.

Much of the statuary needs to be stored or protected indoors. The concrete will deteriorate over time as water seeps into small crevices in the part, then cause small cracks as the water expands into ice, then melts throughout the months. colder. Where possible, small states and structures should be moved out of the weather to a protected area, basement or garage. Larger pieces can be wrapped in burlap, to absorb condensation, and draped loosely with plastic. Make sure there are no areas that can collect water or check often and empty any water found.

Fountains and birdbaths can be turned upside down or on their side to discourage water collection, pumps, hoses, etc. fountain should be drained, removed and stored indoors,

Resin and sealed concrete are more durable but also deteriorate over time. My sister loved gnomes and we had a garden bed just for them. Over the years the statues, left outdoors, have faded and cracked. My Alice in Wonderland statues, stored on shelves in an outside but protected area, held up much better, retaining their color and were not damaged by the cracks.

Wood furniture treatments can be divided into groups based on wood and finish. Durable woods, like teak, will develop a beautiful silver patina over the years or can be sealed and finished to retain the original color. Light and mobile furniture, unused during the winter, is better stored. Covers are available, and a sturdy cover that is securely fastened can also protect furniture. Protective coatings, sealers or oils will also help protect the finish on most woods.

Fabrics, even those designed for outdoor use, should be cleaned and stored. Cushions and pillows washed, dried and stored away from the weather in deck lockers, garages or other secure shelters. Make sure storage is dry and items are not moldy before storing.

As previously announced, the PHS Garden Show is returning to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and its early spring dates, March 4-12, 2023. It was recently announced that discounted tickets are on sale now. So if you plan to attend and need to buy tickets, order now on the PHS website (

This year’s theme, The Electric Garden, is described by Seth Pearssoll, Design Director at PHS:

This year’s theme, “The Electric Garden”, is meant to encompass the feeling of magic, celebration and awe we feel when we encounter beautiful flowers and gardens. We create a truly immersive experience for guests, centered on bold, eccentric and vibrant color combinations, and an element of surprise that will elicit a sense of wonder and excitement in our guests. Three distinct muses inspired the theme: Makoto Azuma, a Japanese florist who sent flowers into space and underwater; Hunting Brook Gardens by Jimi Blake in Ireland and The Great Dixter in England.

Sue Kittek is a freelance gardening columnist, writer and speaker. Send your questions to Garden Keeper at [email protected] or by mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, PO Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.

Planting: Use asters, kale, chrysanthemums, winter pansies and other fall garden favorites to brighten up the fall landscape. Plant spring-flowering bulbs, garlic and shallots, asparagus and rhubarb, perennials, trees and shrubs. Sow seeds that require a cold period to germinate. Seasonal: dig up and store gladioli bulbs. Dig and store other tender bulbs as the foliage is killed by cold or frost. Let the last wave of flowers go to seed on plants that provide food for birds and small mammals during fall and winter. Plan ahead, if you’re buying a potted or burlap live Christmas tree, find a suitable planting spot, dig it up, and store it in the ground, covered or in a container in the garage. Cut the peony greens to about three to four inches tall. Apply Broadleaf Weed Control until mid-October. Install the lawn until October. Treat against larvae, chinch bugs and meadow borers. Trim as needed to a height of about 2½ to 3 inches tall. Use a sharp blade. Keep newly seeded or turfed lawns watered; rain supplement in weeks when less than an inch. Fill in holes and low spots in the lawn.

Chores: Watch out for frosts. Protect tender plants and get a few more weeks of color. Stop pruning. Order or buy mulch for the winter, but don’t apply it until the ground freezes. Stop watering the amaryllis bulbs. Allow the bulbs to dry out and go dormant. Store in a cool, dry place until they regrow in about 8-10 weeks. Order bulbs and plants for fall shipping. Check seed inventory for late crops and fall sowing. Harvest crops regularly, at least every other day. Remove and compost wilted plants. Drain standing water and remove anything that can collect rainwater to help control mosquito populations. Water all recent plantings and containers whenever we live a week with less than an inch of rain. Repair damaged screens and caulking around windows and doors in anticipation of the indoor invasion of overwintering insects and rodents.

Maintain protection from deer, rabbits and groundhogs for vulnerable plants. Reapply any taste or odor repellents. Clean and refill bird feeders regularly. Clean up spilled seeds and empty shells. Empty, scrub and refill birdbaths at least once a week. Use a small water heater to keep the water liquid in cold weather.

Clean out gutters and direct runoff water away from the foundation of the house.

Tools, equipment and supplies: Maintain summer gear and put it away or send it in for repair when you’re done using it.

Check winter/fall equipment, repair or replace as needed.

Security: Clear lawns of debris before mowing and make sure pets, children and other people are clear of the mowing area.

Store garden chemicals indoors, away from pets and children. Throw out expired ones at local chemical collection events. Photograph storm damage before cleaning or repairing for insurance claims and file promptly. Anytime you are outdoors and temperatures are around 50°F or warmer, watch for tick bites. Use insect repellent containing Deet on the skin. Apply a permethrin product to clothing. Wear light colored clothes, long sleeves, hats and long pants when working in the garden. Stay hydrated. Drink water or other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages. Even in cold weather, apply sunscreen, wear hats and limit sun exposure. Wear closed shoes and gloves; use eye protection; and use hearing protection when using noisy power tools.

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