Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,
Welcome to the July 2007 edition of the Hydrangeas Plus® e-mail newsletter.   Happy Birthday, America!

We're having a wonderful hydrangea year!  We've had a gradual change in weather, both fall to winter and winter to spring this year.  And the hydrangeas are loving it!  I was a little nervous in January when the temperatures were 15 degrees but everything recovered nicely.  And, not just nicely.  Magnificent!  Every hydrangea house had a bloom until this week when we started pruning the back to keep them healthy and happy.  

We're preparing for the hot weather that accompanies our July and August here in the Willamette valley.   It's not 'hot' like the southern United States but hot for those of us with a little rust and mold still hanging around from our winter and spring rains.  These are the months that we dry out a little bit.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, you never know if someone is tan or just rusted.

You may have noticed that we suspended shipping until September.  This is the first year that we've done that.  Unfortunately, the economics of shipping and specifically our contract with our carrier actually penalizes for shipping small volumes.  Well!  I'll just work on the garden this summer.  And, the yard, nursery, house - you should see my ToDo list!  It was actually good timing.  We're participating in Le Tour de Plants for the first time and now I don't have an excuse to not be ready for this wonderful event.  See below for our tentative list of activities.  I'll still be answering emails and phone calls all summer but be patient, I may be outside staining the deck or watering the newly planted hydrangeas.

Even though we're not shipping, Get Your Orders for Fall together, pronounced G-yof and that's a Kristin original.  We'll be fully stocked again and we can ship that hydrangea that was sold out in spring.

Summer Tip - Fertilize those hydrangeas
When hydrangeas begin to bloom, they begin absorbing nutrients and minerals (and water!!) at a very quick pace.  Are you beginning to see yellowing leaves on the inside leaves?  That's the first signs of deficiency.  It is usually a nitrogen and an iron deficiency that affect the inner leaves.  Fertilize!!  Use an instant fertilizer that will be quick acting.  I recommend a liquid fertilizer if you've got it but don't run out and buy anything special.  Anything with a good amount of Nitrogen (the first number in the N-P-K designation for fertilizers).  Use something like 16-16-16 or 20-10-10.  The more fast acting the fertilizer, the faster the leaves will green.  With the DEEP FREEZE of Easter on the East Coast, this will be extremely important to get your hydrangeas healthy for the future..

Hydrangeas are coming back in stock!
I'm out in the nursery every week checking on the progress on these babies.  We're growing them as fast as we can!  We propagate a majority of our plants ourselves using the nursery stock too so we're in the middle filling our cutting houses.  I've added back some varieties that may not actually be ready until September.  Sign up for email notification for that special variety you've been waiting for!!  

Red Hydrangeas
You can always tell when some magazine writes an article about hydrangeas and details the red ones!  I always tell them that fresh "red" blooming hydrangeas are not typically fire engine red, more reddish pink.  It's the dried colors that can be a fabulous fiery red!  Here are some of my favorites reddish plants (but many are pH sensitive):  Leuchtfeuer, Kardinal, Rotdrossel, Glowing Embers, Ami Pasquier, Bottstein, Masja, Miss Belgium, Oregon Pride, Red Star, Trophy, Geoffrey Chadburn, Mousmee, Fasan,

My best red (no matter what the soil) is Serrata Preziosa.  It doesn't start red but it does have the most intense red as the bloom fades.  I received this wonderful picture from one of my wonderful customers that showed a fresh bouquet of this plant's bloom.  There were five blooms and each was a different color.  White, pale pink, pink, deep pink and red.  Some of the deep pigmented varieties will also dry red (again, depending on the pH and the environment) - Mathilda Gutges, Altona, Gertrude Glahn, Hamburg, Europa, just to name a few.

NW Hydrangea Society
Yes, I'm still working on it.  Thank you to all that called about the organization meeting this month.  I'm going to have sign ups available at Le Tour de Plants with hopefully an October meeting.

Le Tour de Plants schedule (tentative)
Sept. 15-23  (I think I had the wrong dates before - yikes!)
September 15th - Opening Day Contest - Enter to win tickets to Wine Stomp at St. Joseph's on September 22nd/23rd
September 15th - Guided tour of the nursery (2)
September 15th - Cut flower and dried flower grower demonstration and Q/A
September 16th - Pruning demonstration (2)
September 22nd - Local Kiwi guru Paul Simmons to discuss (and sell) cultivars of Kiwi successful in the NW
September 22nd - tour the nursery with local Hydrangea expert and collector, Scott Christy, on loan from Terra Nova Nurseries
September 23rd - Pruning demonstration (2)

Commonly Asked Questions

I have a Nikko blue hydrangea that has not bloomed for the second year in a row. My son gave it to me for Mother's Day 3 years ago and ordered it from you. I planted it in a pot when I received it because I did not know where it would do well in my yard. It receives morning sun and afternoon shade. I don't know what else to do for it. Please help
A:  Hydrangeas don't bloom for several reasons.  Here's a summary...
  The reasons why hydrangeas don't bloom are usually (1) too much pruning (2) improper pruning time (3) weather - too cold or transition to winter/summer too drastic (4) too much shade (5) too much fertilizer.
The most common reason is too much pruning or pruning too late (prune in fall for you in zone 8). From what you mention and where you live, I don't think it's weather or too much shade. 
Finally, don't overfeed your hydrangeas.  Too much nitrogen in the fertilizer and you grow great leaf! but fewer blooms.
Q:  Hi, I purchased a Fuji Waterfall hydrangea from you earlier this year and have it planted in a large pot. It has new growth and generally looks healthy, except for the fact that some of the leaves are turning yellow and then fall off. Wondering if I'm over watering or whether it needs fertilizer or what I should do to stop this. Would appreciate your advice.

A:  The yellowing leaves is probably just a nutrition issue (time to fertilize).  If it's too much water, the leaves will wilt and look like they need water.  Drastic symptoms are leaf drop.
The yellowing leaves generally occurs this time of year when plants are setting buds and getting needy for nutrients.
If the plant is generally healthy and not drooping, just fertilize with a balanced fertilizer.  If the yellowing is drastic and needs quicker repair, use MirAcid instant fertilizer or something for acid loving plants with no time release mechanism.
Q:  The lacecap blooms don't last as long as in Shreveport where they would dry on the plant and be attractive through the fall and winter if not trimmed. The mopheads do fine in this respect. anything I can do to get the lacecaps to hold their blossoms? The plants are healthy and vigorous. We have a slight problem with deer pruning a few plants but we have over 50 and they are just a nuisance, not a real problem except for a few other plants such as lythium. Thanks, we enjoy your letter and the mopheads we have bought from you are thriving.

A:  Do you know what lacecaps you have?  The strong ones like Teller plants Blaumeise, Taube, Eisvogel, Fasan, Kardinal (et al) should hold up better.  The lacecap family of Serrata may be another good choice for your area.  These will bloom blue or pink but will age red.  Foliage will age red and burgundy as well - very stunning in the fall.
Some of the more delicate blooms do fade faster in the humidity.  Mariesii Perfecta comes to mind.
I'm so glad to hear the mopheads are thriving from us. I can never hear that enough.

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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®