Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,

Welcome to 2005!
Welcome to the April 2005 edition of Hydrangeas Plus® newsletter.  Spring has sprung, spring has sprung.  The hydrangeas are looking great.  We're going to have tons and tons of blooms on this year's crop.  We finally got some rain.  Finally!  We are way below normal for our rainfall year so every farmer is uttering the 'D' word.  Drought.  We're working on our drought plan as I type.  We've taken significant steps in recent years to conserve water but these are hydrangeas after all.

David has installed two new modules on our shopping cart that are FANTASTIC.  Coming from the person who used to do it all manually.  We are now able to download UPS tracking numbers back into our shopping cart.  What does that mean for you?  You can track your package.  Once I input the numbers, the shopping cart sends you an email.  From there, you can go to the UPS website ( and track your package.  Just copy the tracking number from the email into the tracking page on and you'll know exactly when your hydrangeas will arrive.

Also, another new module lets me update the orders online.  I can add or delete products from your order! At your request, that is.  I can also correct address and email mistakes.

Our search module is hopefully coming on line in April.  This will allow you to search for hydrangeas using any of the criteria we list in the characterics (zone, color, bloom size, bloom time, sun tolerance, etc).

Did you get just part of your new catalog?
We had a customer comment that his copy of the catalog didn't include all 40 pages.  Please review your copy and let us know if you are also missing pages.  We'll send you another complete catalog.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Spring Tip - Slugs
It's that time of year that slugs begin to emerge from their dark dens.  There are many things you can do to keep these criters away from your beautiful hydrangeas. We've found that certain varieties are more prone to slug and snail damage.  The Annabelle is one of their favorite.  It must be the thinner leaves.  Slugs come out at night and early morning to avoid the hottest parts of the day.

Here are some of the methods we use to combat slugs around the nursery...

Turn an empty 2 liter soda bottle or water bottle on it's side.  Cut of the bottle's neck and flip it around such that the nose and neck are in inside the bottle.  You can pour slug bait or beer into the bottle.  When the trap is full, remove the nose/neck piece and dump the snail and bait.  Add more bait and catch more slugs.  We like this method around the house because it keeps the birds, kids and pets out of the bait.

Add frogs and toads to your garden - they love to munch of the little slugs.

Commercial slug bait - Sluggo, WorryFree are both safe to use around pets, birds and kids but often degrade quickly.  Deadline is also a good product that doesn't degrade as quickly but shouldn't be used around pets or kids.

Broken egg shells spread around the hydrangeas - the sharp edges cut their bellies and so they avoid the area

Copper bands around plants- snails slimy trail chemically reacts to the copper and they don't like it.

There are some new brands of slug killer on the market that are made with iron phosphate that actually help plants grow but beware that it may affect the color of your blooms. 

Special offer for April ONLY
It's our $30 sale once again.  Look and see what three year plants are on sale for just $30.

Also, our annual ‘Overstocks’ spring sale is April 23rd-May 8th, 8am to 5pm everyday.  We’ll have lots of hydrangeas but not every variety.  This is our annual “Spring Cleaning” sale where we sell everything we have left over and make room for more plants.  I’m not sure what we’ll have for sure so you’ll just have to wait and see.  There are directions at  No presales will be allowed and we ask that small children stay at home for safety reasons.  We have more than just hydrangeas, too.

Northwest Hydrangea Club  - New Garden Club just for hydrangeas  
After all these years, I've finally been motivated to start a Northwest hydrangea growers club.   If you're interested in helping me get the word out, join or help organize, please let me know.  My dream is to include quarterly meetings, newsletters, summer garden tours, cutting exchanges and most important - share the love of hydrangeas with more friends & family.  

Commonly Asked Questions

Q:  I am a certified landscape designer that has purchased for clients for several years and all of your plants have done beautifully. Now that I have my own property, I am planning out my order for this spring, and my question concerns the soil amendment.  I need to restore pH to a blue panniculata that faded out last year, and does the aluminum sulfate get compromised by use of the 10-8-8 fertilizer, and if so, how should I separate the usage? (My chemistry is not the best, my firm only does design/specify)
If this is covered in the catalog, I will wait until I get it and apologise for a dumb question!

A:  No problem.

Chemistry of aluminum sulfate and fertilizer shouldn't lessen the affect of one another.  The fertilizer that you describe is very good for hydrangeas and other shrubs.  The lower the pH, the better able the plant can absorb key elements. 

There are many factors that affect the color of blue hydrangeas.  Extra hot sun, too much aluminum sulfate, not enough water all affect color.  We've had several very hot summers here and my blue hydrangeas fade so much faster in such conditions.

It could be the variety too.  If you have a pale blue variety (Nikko, Blauer Prinz, Kluis Superba) they may never get to the deep blue that you're after.  Consider purchasing varieties with more intense pigments like Mathilda Gutges, Altona, Gertrude Glahn, Europa, Blue Danube, Bottstein.

Q:  Thank you so much for the recent catalog and the information on your Web page.  I just so look forward to receiving that information.  I'd love to order a plant but just cannot decide on what!  A question I have that might be interesting to others, is this.  I have a number of well established plants that do very well each year.  They did last year too except for the fact that once they got in full bloom, the heads just drooped over.  Had nothing to do with water or disease.  They were so beautiful except that they wouldn't stay straight up, it was like they were nodding.  I'd sure like to avoid that this year but would have no idea of what to do.

A:  That is a great question.
Head size on the macrophylla hydrangeas (mopheads & lacecaps) depends on many factors:  pruning, temperature and shade.  With most hydrangeas, the stronger the stems, the better the heads stay upright.  Some years, head size is larger because new stems aren't strong enough.  This can be caused by weather, pruning or health of the hydrangea.  Of course, weather is uncontrollable.  if you have a mild winter, the hydrangeas grow fast early and tend to have weaker stems.  If you have a hard winter, hydrangeas grow at a 'normal' rate and usually hold their heads up better.
Some varieties are more predictable.  Take the Arborescens and Paniculata families.  These both bloom on new wood so pruning in the spring is okay.  In fact, if you prune in the spring, you'll get smaller blooms and they don't fall over as easily.  Some of the most popular varieties in these families are Annabelle (Arb) and Pee Gee (Paniculata Grandiflora).  In terms of the Annabelle, I usually cut after the first bloom and wait for another smaller bloom because the first bloom is usually so huge and flop over.
If all else fails, use fishing line or dental floss to hold up the hydrangea.  My husband thinks I'm nuts but it works and no one can see it.

Q:  We are still in snow here in CT and, after a season (or two), I have realized that I have placed your beautiful plants in the wrong place.  I
would like to move them to a more appropriate location in my garden - when  is the best time to transplant?  (Perhaps a bit early to ask but, in these
parts, one can only dream a lot at this time of year!)

A:  You can transplant anytime now.  As long as your can dig another hole.  You can transplant in the spring before the plant is completely leafed out.  Be sure that you dig a good size root system when you do this.  The hydrangeas' roots are fairly shallow and should be about as wide as the branch system.  We recommend tying the branches together loosely with twine before moving the hydrangea.  That makes it so much easier to move.

Q:  I have had one of the above hydrangeas in my garden for about three years now without appreciable growth. It still has a single stem which last year produced three huge leaves and one rather modest blossom. It has never produced any new shoots. At present after removing the spent blossom it is about a foot high. I have it in a semi-shady place where it is protected from wind . Any suggestions as to how I can invigorate this shrub to grow more robustly?

A:  Do you remember the variety?  Could it be one of the Asperas?  They tend to be leggy and gaunt and product just a few flowers until they get big.  These are a bit rare and hopefully you'd remember that one.

It could be that the roots are being stunted by compacted ground.  Replant it (now is a good time before it gets too many leaves).  Dig a bigger hole and add some good potting mix or lighter soil, sand, mulch.  Often when the roots aren't allowed to spread and grow, the plant appears stunted and sparse.  The replanting should give it a jump start, too.

Q:  I have a question. I recently moved into a home that has a huge hydregea in the backyard. The entire plant is brown, I haven't grown them before so I don't know if this is normal. I would also like to buy more. my backyard is completely shaded
Will this be a problem?

A:  Yes, that is totally normal.  Soon, the plant will begin generating new leaves and the stems will green up.  Don't prune a lot this spring or else you'll cut off the blooms.  Feel free to dead head and take off one or two leaf nodes after you see leaves.

Shade is typically great for hydrangeas.  As long as it's not deep dark shade, hydrangeas will thrive in your area.  Hydrangeas like some sun but generally not afternoon hot sun.  Some varieties can take more than others.  For very shady areas, avoid the Paniculatas, Quercifolia and Arborescens varieties.  These all like more sun.  The macrophyllas (mopheads and lacecaps) plus most of the serratas can take mostly shade.

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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®