Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,
Welcome to the June 2006 edition
of the Hydrangeas Plus® e-mail newsletter. We hope that our summer
newsletter finds you and your family healthy and happy and ready to enjoy
your hydrangeas for another summer season.
Got flower buds? The hydrangeas are growing but not a whole lot
of color yet. Expect for those new wood bloomers. After a super
long and dreery winter and spring here, hydrangeas are finally kickin' into
gear. It might be all the rain we've been having. We are really
low on plants this year. For the first time, we really had winter
trouble with some of the hydrangeas. First in 20 years! Many
of the most popular varieties were in short supply this year so I apologize
to those of you that wanted those that we weren't able to provide. They
will be in short supply again this year so order early.
The hydrangeas are growing and growing and I hope the new crop will be
ready in September. We are planting as fast as we can. At least
when the ancient planting machine isn't broken down. I really think
it's being held together by duct tape, paper clips and a prayer.
We've been playing with the website again. We're always trying to
improve on the shopping cart and information we provide on the website.
If you've had trouble or received an email from us that plants are
back in stock, please forgive me. Directions and manuals are not an
option for me. It must be my personality - I must try everything,
every button and knob to see the results. That must be why I'm so
hesitant to sell new varieties. I really feel that we should sell
those plants that do well and perform. Other companies may sell the
latest fad but if it doesn't grow well, I won't sell it unless I like it
and it's somewhat different than what you can find at the local (fill in
big box store here).
Our spring sale was a huge hit this year. If you missed it, mark
you calendars for next year. It's always the two weeks before Mother's
Day. It is really exhausting and I may be a bit grumpy but it's so nice
to see the people and hear about your hydrangeas.
Unexpectedly, office hours here are adjusted again - When I Can. Our
two darling daughters are the focus of my life right now so I'm available
even less. Our daycare was closed and I've been unable to find another
helping hand until school is out for summer. Please leave a message
and I will call you back. Or, email me. I answer them sooner.
Yes, it's true and I'm just devasted I wasn't able to go see this mecca.
I have been so behind in my news that I didn't hear about this in a
timely matter. Luckily, a seattle customer called and ordered some plants.
Then filled me in on this latest development. The Kingston nursery
founded by Dan Hinkley and his partner, Robert Jones, was built on blood,
sweat and tears. If you've ever met Dan or heard him speak about his
adventures, you can't help but wonder what his nursery looks like - Nirvana,
Eden, Crispy Creme of horticulture?. Well, alas, I will never know.
I've been unable to visit their annual July Hydrangeas Daze. It
was usually a softball tournament or a pregnancy, perhaps high school reunion
last year, something that seems so meaningless now. Would have, should
have, could have, etc, I know, cry me a river. I read in the Seatlle
paper online where they refered to Dan as the 'Indiana Jones' of plant seekers.
Now I can't get that picture out of my head. The catalogs are
the BEST in the mail order world and although void of pictures, their words
enable you to actual see the plant (and the plant seekers getting their bounty)
in your mind.
I wish the best for the employees and Dan & Robert. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/272206_heronswood31.html
Summer Tip - propagating hydrangeas
You may propagate by layering long droopy branches directly onto the
soil or by hardwood cuttings, but our most successful method is soft-
or semi softwood cuttings. June and July is the best time for the
soft cuttings. Here's how:
Using sharp clean clippers, cut just above the third leaf node from
the end of the stem. You'll have two full leaf nodes for your cutting.
Cut off the leaves from this cutting at the node closest to the bottom.
Cut in half the next set of leaves. Place the whole stem in well
draining potting mix. Keep the cuttings warm, out of direct sunlight
and moist but NOT wet. In about two to four weeks, roots should begin
to grow and you can transplant into a container.
This works on most Macrophylla type hydrangeas. The harder stemmed
varieties - Petiolaris, Aspera, Involucrata, Oakleaf and Paniculata may
require some rooting hormone to root.
Hydrangeas produce seeds in November and December and can be used once
the hard outer shell is removed. We do not grow from seed as varieties
do not consistently reproduce themselves this way. All varieties
have some fertile seeds. Some are harder to find especially on the
mopheads. The covering on the seed may be very hard, too. You'll
have to break that seed cover in order for it germinate and grow.
Past Newsletters online
Did you miss a newsletter? We have put all the newsletters on
the website. It's on the left side of the website.
Error in last Newletter
Yes, I did it again.
In my last newsletter, I stated that you can get a hard frost at 35 degrees.
Not true - water freezes at 32 degrees so a true hard frost occurs
at or below 32 degrees.
I do want to point out that a new hydrangea is tender and that temperatures
as low as 35 degrees can damage the new growth.
Common question – Drainage
We always talk about the importance of good soil for hydrangeas and
its ability to drain well. Most areas don’t have perfect soil but
there are lots of things you can do to improve your soil and grow better
hydrangeas. It is espeically important to give your hydrangea a good
start, too. Good soil is important for root growth and supplying water
to the hydrangeas leaf and stem structure but most importantly, the flowers.
Here are a few tests to see what kind of soil you have in your garden.
Dig a hole about 6 inches deep and one foot wide and fill it entirely
with water. Let the water drain out of the hole completely.
Fill the hole again and record the time it takes to drain the second time.
If the water drains in three hours or less, your soil is most likely
draining too quickly. Chances are your soil is somewhat sandy.
Incorporate some mulch and good potting mix into your hydrangea beds.
If the water drains in four to six hours, your soil is draining just
perfectly. You have rich, great soil for hydrangeas.
If the water drains in eight hours or more, the soil has poor drainage
typically common with clay-like soil. Again, incorporate mulch and
good potting mix in those areas you’d like to plant hydrangeas.
Even we, the hydrangea grower, have trouble with this aspect of hydrangeas.
We have lost a many hydrangea to poor draining soil. Sometimes,
it's as simple as a broken sprinkler head that keeps drenching the roots.
Hydrangeas that have too much water often have similar symptons
to those with not enough water. Common symptons for TOO MUCH WATER
droopy leaves that don't bounce back after watering
leaves with brown edges that just look tired
blooms or buds may form but will apear smaller and dingy in color
roots are brown, not bright white like they should be
new growth is browning and limp
If you hydrangea is looking like this, it's not too late to save it.
Once the leaves fall off, it may be a goner but until that point,
there is still a chance. Replant the hydrangea in a larger hole.
Remove the wet soil and amend it with some potting mix, bark, garden
mulch and replant the hydrangea.
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
Hydrangea news - upcoming gatherings for Hydrangea Lovers around
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
June 17th - 2nd annual Garden Tour
Blue Ridge Hydrangea Society (Western North Carolina) -
President/Founder: Linda Shapiro email@example.com (828)
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
June 10, 2006, in Augusta, GA - contact President Annette Ferris at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information
Thursday: August 17, "Shady Characters with Hydrangeas". Guest
Speakers: Everett and Karen Jones, owners Shady Characters Nursery, Location:
Aiken Technical College.
November meeting: Sid Morris (former agriculture extension agent)
"Hydrangeas - Day to Day"
Birmingham Hydrangea Society of Alabama (Birmingham, Alabama)
- President is Philip Sarris
June 10th - Hydrangea tour
Aldrige Botanical Garden (Hoover, Alabama) -
Nothing planned specifically for hydrangeas but don't miss this
garden. Eddie Aldridge is the founder of the Snowflake Quercifolia
hydrangea, recently named the official flower of Hoover.
Heronswood (Kingston, Washington)
CANCELLED - Hydrangea Daze - Friday
and Saturday, July 21 and 22, 2006 - 9:30 am to 3:30 pm each day
Burpee has closing this nursery until further notice. Sad day for
hydrangea lovers in the Pacific Northwest.
Has been moved to farm in Pennsylvanie for July 14th & 15th
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
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: I am new to your website and was just
wondering when is a good time to order. I notice that most varities
are listed as "sold out". Thanks for your time
A: We take orders anytime, but the best time to order
for spring delivery is usually winter/early spring and late August/early
September for fall delivery. We'll have most everything coming on
for fall crop in late August. The best way to be notified real-time
of plant availability is to click on the plant details link and click on
the "keep me updated" link and input your e-mail address. That way
you'll be sent an e-mail notification the moment something has been put back
in stock for ordering. Hope this helps and thanks for your interest in Hydrangeas
Q: I purchased 3 year Hydrangea Generale Vicomtesse
DeVibraye and 3 year Niko Blue varieties this year. They have been in
the ground for about a month and are doing great. Some of the first flowers
are starting to bloom but are very pale in color. When is it okay to add
aluminum conditioner? I purchased your brand when I bought the plants.
A: Aluminum is toxic to plants and new plants are especially
susceptible. I don't recommend using the full dose on the plants
this early in their transplanting life. Cut the dose in half and
be sure to keep the application in the drip line - that is right outside
the edge of the hole you dug for the plants. Don't put the amendment
near the base or on the leaves. Wait a few weeks and see if you got
Also, blooms usually begin very pale and deepen in color as they age.
They may get darker and darker over time.
Here's the directions; My general rule for aluminum sulfate is
¼ cup per foot of hydrangea. This means that for an established
4-foot hydrangea, 1 cup of aluminum sulfate spread around the base of
the plant should be adequate. This assumes a 17% concentration
mixture of aluminum sulfate, the most commonly sold concentration.
You may mix the aluminum sulfate in water and dissolve or apply straight
to the plant then water in well. Be sure that the plant has established
itself before application. We don’t recommend aluminum sulfate for
new plants. Apply in the early spring when you see the first leaf.
Apply again six weeks later. If color isn’t as desired, add a fall
Q: How do you prune a hydrangea? Do you
cut it all the way back in the Fall, Spring or just let it be?
A: It depends on the variety. And, whether
it blooms on new wood.
Macrophylla (mopheads and lacecaps) generally bloom on old wood.
We recommend pruning in the fall for shaping right after the plant stops
blooming. You can also prune in the spring but don't cut as much.
Younger plants just needs some shaping and pruning just a little to achieve
a good shape.
Other varieties bloom on new wood - Paniculata, Arborescens, new wood
blooming macrophylla. Prune any time. I like to prune these
in the spring. Just because we're so busy in the fall.
We have some more tips on the website and in the catalog. You'll
get different answers from different people. Trouble is, they may all
work just great depending on the variety you have.
Q: I was reading your Q&A site and it said to use
aluminum sulphate to turn hydrangeas blue. I have a Nikko Blue I wanted
to be real blue and I went to the garden center to get help. The man there
told me to use sulfur to turn hydrangeas blue because it wouldn't burn the
hydrangeas like aluminum sulphate would. He sold me a product that is Sulfur
90% -Derived from Elemental Sulfur. I am supposed to use it three times
a year. Is this OK to use? In your info it says aluminum turns them blue.
I am confused. I just found your website today and I LOVE it as I LOVE hydrangeas
and have several and want several more.
A: It is the aluminum that actually turns the
pigments in the blooms blue. Your garden center is correct that too
much aluminum will burn your plant. There is some naturally
occurring aluminum in most soil but the pH must be low enough for the plant
to absorb the aluminum. You really need both components for hydrangeas
to be blue.
Is that clear? I know it's totally confusing to get on the internet
and find conflicting information. We recommend both adding aluminum
and sulfur to get the blue hydrangeas in areas like yours where pink is the
naturally occurring color. If you add just the sulfur, you may still
have a pink hydrangea - if there isn't enough aluminum in the soil.
You must be very careful with the aluminum because it is toxic in high doses.
Q: Hi, I am so glad that I found your web site. I am
in great need of a red hydrangea. Not pink, red. I saw a few that you did
have, but it said that they were out of stock. I would rather have a 3 year
old plant or older. If you don'r have any more, could you direct me to someone
who does? thank you so much.
A: The best red that I have are the Bottstein, Ami Pasquier
and Leuchtfeuer. But, these hydrangeas will never be true fire engine
red. They are really just deep pink. Don't let anyone convince
you that you will be able to get that true red color - other than in a dried
I'm sold out of all those right now. I should have them available
for sale again in the fall. They are growing just as fast as they
PH also has an influence in the ultimate color of the hydrangea.
For red/pink, your pH needs to be more toward the middle of the scale or
I do have some Preziosa, Serrata hydrangeas. My picture doesn't
do this plant any justice, however. The bloom is pink but ages red.
The leaves will be red as well. It's rated zone 6.
Q: I'm sorry if this isn't the right place for a plant problem
question. I have several mophead hydrangeas that look just terrible as the
new leaves emerge. The leaves look stunted somehow and strangely curled
or damaged. I see no mold or spotting. Several were transplanted last Fall
but not all. This is so upsetting!
A; Check your pH first. It may be a nutrition issue.
Low pH is best for absorption of minerals and the Nitrogen. If you
pH is too high, the plant won't absorb that efficiently.
Next, check for insects. Sometime the little buggers drink the moisture
in the leaves and leave them curling. Check with your local agriculture
extension service about bugs in your area. You have different insects
than we do but some of the pests that cause leave damage to hydrangeas are
aphids, thrips, mites, slugs, snails.
Finally, check the moisture around the base of the hydrangeas. You
may have some excessive moisture around the roots of the plant causing the
roots to rot. That usually occurs in poor draining soil.
I hope that helps. If you'd like to send me a picture, I may be
able to narrow a down a bit for you.
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