Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,
Welcome to the April 2006 edition of Hydrangeas
Plus® newsletter. The season is picking up after a
long cold winter. We've still been getting frosts here in the willamette
Valley and we all have cabin fever. The sun is finally shining today
but rain is in the forecast. Nursery is slowly waking up. The
18 degrees in February is having some lingering affects but everything looks
like it is in fine shape. We've still got the plastic on the houses
for fear of another frost. This gives us some added protection from
Yes, I'm finally early with the newsletter. Don't anyone fall over
in your chair please.
A winter tip – Pruning
If you forgot to prune your hydrangeas last fall, don’t worry, you
can still prune them in the spring. Unlike many of your other flowering
bushes (roses & buddleia), hydrangeas should not be harshly pruned
in the spring. Most mophead and lacecap hydrangea varieties bloom
on old wood and if you cut too much, you won’t get any blooms. Once
your plant starts to leaf out, you can see the leaf nodes beginning to form.
Count back from the end of the plant such that you have at least three fat
and healthy leaf nodes forming. Prune right above the third one.
That is, after the pruning, you'll have three of the fattest leaf nodes
remaining. Be sure that you leave nice plump buds. Wait until
leaves are starting to show before you prune your macrophyllas so you don’t
prune too much.
When in doubt, just cut off the dried bloom heads from last year. The
new leaves will grow around these old heads even if you don't cut them.
But, each cut you do will give you two branches and two future blooms.
The Paniculata and Arborescens varieties bloom on new wood so you may
cut them for size every year, spring or fall, what ever is most convenient
for you. Cut these for size. These varieties will put on one
foot to three feet of growth in one year depending on the amount of sun.
A spring tip – Fertilizing
It’s almost time to start fertilizing those hydrangeas. My rule
of thumb is when the leaves start showing through the leaf nodes, it’s time
for an application of time release fertilizer.
What do your hydrangeas need in terms of fertilizing? The three
essential components of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium,
the N-P-K numbers on any fertilizer. Nitrogen is for healthy green
growth by helping the plant to grow chlorophyll. Fertilizers high in
nitrogen like 25-10-10, is great for greening up your lawn. Phosphorus
helps a plant grow good roots and stems in the early growth season then in
flower production. A mix like 10-30-10 is great for flowers on your
annuals and perennials. The Potassium (K) helps your plants generate
and process nutrients. Other important elements in fertilizers are
calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and sulfur. Organic
fertilizers are usually very low in these trace elements.
Hydrangeas like a balanced fertilizer. We prefer the granular
time-released kind that delivers nutrients to the plant over a 3 or 4 month
period. Water will break down the outside coating of the fertilizer
slowly and nutrients won’t dwindle out in the active spring growth season.
Be sure that the soil is slightly moist when applying the granulated variety
and keep the fertilizer off the foliage to prevent burn.
For blue hydrangeas, a low phosphorus element (the ‘P’) is important
as too much will limit the plant’s ability to absorb aluminum. The
amounts of sulfur (lowers pH) and calcium (raises pH) are important to
keep the blue color. A good soil test from you local garden center
can tell you what elements are missing from your soil.
Another 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 our home and
in 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.
Ducks and geese like them too ,but they can be messy.
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
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.
Memorial for Penny McHenry
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is honoring Penny by naming the new hydrangea
collection in Penny's memory, Penny McHenry Hydrangea Collection.
Please indicate on your check that your donation is in memory of Penny McHenry
and send it to the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Collection.
Please mail your donation to:
Atlanta Botanical Garden
1345 Piedmont Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30309
Happenings around Oregon
We will be at Fir Point Farms in Aurora, Oregon at Gardenpalooza Saturday,
April 1st (no fooling) from 8am to 4pm. Come visit us at Fir Point
on Arndt Road. I'll pick some special varieties just for the occasion.
Especially Penny Mac, in honor of Penny McHenry. http://www.GardenTime.tv and follow the
links to the Gardenpalooza page.
Annual ‘Overstocks’ spring sale is April 28th-May 13th, 8am to
5pm everyday here at the nursery. Directions at http://www.hydrangeasplus.com/directions.html
No presales are allowed.
Northwest Hydrangea Society (Washington & Oregon but anyone welcome)
June - date depending on blooms - here at Hydrangeas Plus
Special offer until April 30th ONLY
Free Shipping!!! For orders over $200, you will not be charged
for shipping. Sorry, this special only applicable to online orders
and is not applicable with any other offers. Remember, this is only
for until April 30th so get those orders in soon. We're starting to
run out of plants so hurry!! Just type in 'FREE SHIP' in the coupon
code section on the order form once your order for plants exceeds $200. For
those of you in colder zones, please note you can specify a later ship date
and still get this Free Shipping offer.
Hydrangea news - upcoming gatherings for Hydrangea Lovers
around the country
American Hydrangea Society (Atlanta, Georgia) - see http://www.americanhydrangeasociety.org
for membership information
June 10th - Annual Garden Tour in Atlanta - see http://www.americanhydrangeasociety.org
for more information
Mid-South Hydrangea Society (Memphis, Tennessee) - Membership/Newsletter
Caroline Brown 683-9766 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
April 10th - Dr. Dirr presentation - Doors open at 5:30pm questions
April 21st - 23rd - Memphis Botanical Garden plant sale
June 17th - 2nd annual Garden Tour
Blue Ridge Hydrangea Society (Western North Carolina) -
President/Founder: Linda Shapiro email@example.com (828)
890-0880 (Linda's email is down, please be patient)
Saturday, April 29, 2006 - Guest Speaker: Dick Bir Topic: “What
Works…Hydrangeas That Survive and Thrive in WNC”., 1:00 P.M., NC Arboretum
$6.00 parking charge per car if you are not a member of the NC Arboretum.
late July/early August - Hydrangea Tour - Cindy Hudgins of “A Touch of
the Mountains”, will give us a tour of her working hydrangea field in bloom.
Directions will follow
September, dates to be announced via WNC Agricultural Center NC State
Flower and Garden Show- 2 weeks of hydrangea lectures. WNC Agricultural
Center at (828) 687-1414 Ext.210.
Saturday, October 28, 2006 - Guest Speaker: Mal Condon of Nantucket Hydrangea
Farm Nursery Topic: “Got Hydrangeas”?Place: NC
Arboretum Time: 1:00 P.M.
CSRA Hydrangea Society (Aiken, South Carolina and Augusta, GA
areas) - Membership questions - Bill Hayes (803)641-1077
Thursday: May 18, "The Hydrangeas Garden" Pendleton King Park in
Augusta, GA - Members/Guests will tour garden
June 3, 2006, in Aiken SC - contact President Annette Ferris at firstname.lastname@example.org for
June 10, 2006, in Augusta, GA - contact President
Annette Ferris at email@example.com for more information
Thursday: August 17, "Shady Characters with Hydrangeas". Guest Speakers:
Everett and Karen Jones, owners Shady Characters Nursery, Location: Aiken
November meeting: To be Determined
Birmingham Hydrangea Society of Alabama (Birmingham, Alabama) - President
is Philip Sarris
May 17th - Speaker: Elizabeth Dean of Wilkerson
Mill Nursery, Aldridge Botanical Gardens located
in Hoover Alabama
Heronswood (Kingston, Washington)
Hydrangea Daze - Friday and Saturday, July
21 and 22, 2006 - 9:30 am to 3:30 pm each day
Do you know of other gatherings where HYDRANGEAS are the topic? Please
let us know. We'll publish in our newsletter and get the word out!
Please, just Hydrangea gatherings. Contact me if you need some
information about Hydrangeas. We provide FREE information. Hydrangea
We aren't the only ones upset about the AOL development.
Remember last month - We may soon lose some our valued newsletter subscribers.
AOL and Yahoo have announced that they will soon begin CHARGING us
to send our newsletter to you. Even though we are an "OPT IN" (that
means you sign up and we don't buy email addresses) sender, they will soon
require the use of an e-mail verification service imposing a per subscriber
charge for every email we send. I am a huge fan of AOL and what they
have done for internet access but this latest development is simply too
much for a small business like ours to get on board with. I don't
know the specifics but from what I've read, we will be subject to this charge
because of the number of subscribers we have with AOL and Yahoo addresses.
We have had trouble with AOL in the past when they blocked us as
'SPAM' (in spite of our OPT IN policy). I'm not sure what can be done
about this but if you are an AOL or Yahoo customer and want to keep receiving
our monthly email newsletters, please also subscribe with another email
address. We don't want to lose you. Alternatively, you might want
to consider contacting either of these providers directly and expressing
your displeasure with this policy.
Please go to this website http://www.dearaol.com/
and let them know you're not happy with the recent development.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: I would like to purchase one of the tree hydrangeas.
Can you tell me which ones can take a sunny spot, if any. Also, I note that
the height that they grow is between 4 and 5 feet. What is the normal width
of the tree? Thank you.
A: They all like sunny spots.
Right now, the trees are between 4 and 5 feet. They will grow beyond
that height. They are somewhat slow growers. I just talked to
a customer who is replacing one that was 30 feet tall so they can get quite
large. She thought it was over 60 years old, however. It was her
grandmother's home and a wind storm uprooted the tree and it couldn't be
The trees should be pruned every year down to the first leaf node. I
do the tree pruning in the spring but because the paniculata varieties bloom
on new wood (all but Pracox), you may also prune in the fall. Trees
can grow 1 foot to 5 feet per year, depending on how happy they are and how
old they may be.
Thank you for your question. My favorite variety is the Pink Diamond
but the most popular are the full blooms of the Paniculata Grandiflora (nicknamed
Q: I tried to subscribe to newsletter, you said I
am already subscribed...i do not receive. when you sell plant, it has 1-2-3-
years, so does that mean they only live that long? thanks for your attention
to this matter.
A: Check you spam filter for the newsletter.
Until you allow it to come to your mailbox, most email servers will block
us because we send it to over 8000 people. If you missed it, check out
our website - we have all the old newsletters online. Also, AOL and
Yahoo have been blocking some of our emails, including order receipts. I'm
not sure what can be done about this but if you are an AOL or Yahoo customer
and want to keep receiving our monthly email newsletters, please also subscribe
with another email address. You might want to consider contacting
either of these providers directly and expressing your displeasure with
this policy. We have an OPT IN policy for our newsletter and don't
buy email addresses but these providers may still be blocking the newsletter.
Our one year plants/three year plants are just how long they have been in
containers. The one year plants are really TWO years old total.
They spent their first year as rooted cuttings and little pots. The
three year plants are actually three years old. They were rooted cuttings
and little plants for the first year, in one gallon containers for the second
year, and are now growing in three gallon containers. Hydrangeas should
last forever and ever.
Q: I was wondering when the best time was to take off
the winter protection that I have put on my hydrangeas. I put burlap around
them and then put leaves inside the burlap. It's starting to get warm here
(zone 6) but the cold weather isn't gone for good yet, it's too early. Should
I take off the covering and just watch out for frosts or is it just too early
A: Great question! I haven't answered this one yet this
Don't let the warm weather fool you but the sooner you can get the wraps
off the plants, the better for the plants. Unwrap one and look at the
stage of leaf. If you can see leaf edges (not just leaf buds) it's a
good time to take off the covering.
If you get severely cold weather (20s), you'll need to wrap and mulch them
up really well again. Definitely watch out for frosty nights (30 to
35 degrees) and cover the plants for the night. The reason it's so critical
is you don't want to lose the blooms due to the hard frost. You shouldn't
lose the plant but blooms will be much more sparse if you get a hard frost.
I'm referring to the macrophylla type hydrangeas here. Paniculatas,
Serrata, Oakleaf, deciduous climbers should all be still mostly dormant and
these varieties are much more frost damage resistant.
Q: I have no experience with hydrangeas but I want to put a beautiful
specimen plant in front of my house. Before I buy plants I would like to know
what is meant by 1-year and 3-year hydrangeas? Also, I greatly admire hydrangeas
that are a faded purply-blue color. Is there some way to acheive a color
that is not too blue, yet not pink? Thank you.
A: Hydrangeas are a very simple plant to grow. Prune,
water, fertilize and you're done. They tend to like more acidic soil,
The one year plants are TWO years old and are growing in a one gallon container.
We don't ship the container so we don't want to mislead anyone about what
they get. The size of the plant (right now) is anywhere between 5" - 12" depending
on the variety. The three year plants are three years old and have three
times as many branches as the one year plants. They are growing in three
gallon containers but again, we don't ship the container. These plants are
about 8" - 12" depending on variety but could be as much as 24".
Most mail order companies offer just one size (usually grown in a 4" starter
pot and significantly smaller than our one year plants) so we like to give
you more choices.
The advantage of the one year plants is cost.
In terms of color, hydrangea bloom color (macrophylla mopheads & lacecaps)
depends on the pH of the soil. In more acidic soil, hydrangeas will
be blue/purple. In more neutral soil, they will be pink/red. White
ones will be white no matter what. Get a pH test on your soil to be
sure. Or look around your neighborhood. If your neighbors have
blue/purple ones in the ground, you probably have acidic soil. Or, do
Azaleas, Camelias, Rhodies grow well in your area? If you answered yes,
you probably have acidic soil.
Q: Two years ago we purchased 2 of your Katherine Hepburn hydrangeas.
Last fall, we let the flowers go to seed and have done no pruning for the
coming season. Spring is just around the corner here in Connecticut and we
want to make sure we do the right thing to keep them healthy. Will you please
advise how we prune them now, what fertilizers so we add, what to do for color
and any other tips you may have? Thank you in advance for your guidance.
A: Since you didn't prune them after bloom, wait until after
your last hard frost (March for zone 8, April for zone 7 and May for zone
6) and you begin to see leaf nodes peaking out. Cut off the dried flowers
just above a healthy, symmetric leaf node. That could be one, two or
three leaf nodes down. You don't want to cut too much too late, however.
Miss Hepburn blooms on old wood and the more you prune, the fewer blooms you'll
Fertilize about the same time with something balanced like 10-10-10.
I recommend a time release product like Osmocote.
Did you like the color last year? If so, don't worry about doing anything
to the plant. If you'd like it blue-er, add something to lower the pH
(aluminum sulfate, sulfur products). If you had blue and you want more
purple, add some garden lime to raise the pH or super-phosphate fertilizer
to stop some of the absorption of aluminum.
Hydrangeas are really easy to grow and typically very resistant to bugs
and other diseases. If you have deer, they do like hydrangeas when
they are peaking out in the spring so cover or spray to protect them. Some
hydrangeas are susceptible to slugs so you may need to apply slug bait, too.
The Miss Hepburn isn't one of their favorites though.
I can't think of much else to do but to wait for those gorgeous blooms.
Please let me know if you need further assistance. Thank you for your
Q: I have very light green leaves, almost yellow, on two of my
hydrangeas. Is there anything I can give them to darken the leaves to normal
A: It is probably a combination of things causing this
(high pH, poor absorption of iron, in need of nitrogen).
I usually don't recommend a name product but I use MirAcid - miracle gro
for Acid loving plants. Any other quick acting fertilizer will do that
has high nitrogen.
I suspect you have high pH in your area and so you can either lower pH and
fertilize occasionally or fertilize frequently. In higher pH soil, nutrients
aren't absorbed as efficiently as in lower pH soils. It is typically
safe to apply fertilizer and acidifiers at the same time but read the directions
on the package just to be sure.
Also, some varieties just have paler green leaves. Often when hydrangeas
are starting to set buds or are in the process of setting buds, leaves yellow.
We have the same trouble in June when our hydrangeas begin to bloom. You're
in California and your plants are probably starting to set buds already.
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