Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,

Welcome to the June 2007 edition of the Hydrangeas Plus® e-mail newsletter.  We hope that our pre-summer newsletter finds you and your family healthy and happy and ready to enjoy your hydrangeas for another summer season.   This will be our last newsletter until September.  Our last shipping date will be June 26th and we will resume shipping right after Labor day.  I'm taking the summer off to really get the nursery, garden and display area into shape.  We are participating in the LeTour de Plants this year, a self guided tour of the finest garden centers and niche nurseries that Oregon has to offer.  The dates are September 15 - 23, 2007.  And I'm determined to be ready.  We'll still be here answering questions and emails.

Got blooms?  I've never seen so much color for our nursery in early June.  Yahoo!  It was a pretty dismal year last year after our late frost.  I just need to get out there and take some photos.

The hydrangeas are growing and growing and the new crop will be ready for shipping in September.  Our planting machine was rejuvenated with the help of our friendly nursery equipment company and is flying like an eagle this year.  We're almost done planting.

I've been playing with the website again and always trying to improve on the shopping cart and information we provide.  Check out our new categories and pull down menus.  We've also streamlined the order form and made it easier to jump back & forth between the order form and our shopping cart.  If you've had trouble or received an email from us that plants are back in stock, please forgive me.  

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.

NW Hydrangea Society

I'm still trying to figure out a date for this meeting.  The summer filled up too fast with t-ball, softball, ballet, vacation, field trips and family.  Please check the website for exact date.  I expect to have a planning meeting sometime in June.

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.

SALE - last few weeks

We're doing our 10/20/30 sale again.  Order $100 of plants and amendments and get 10% off, order $200 of plants and amendments and get 20% off.  Finally, order $300 of plants and amendments and get 30% off.  Offer is good til 6/30/07 but plants can be shipped through 11/30/07.  No need for a coupon code, your order will be adjust automatically.

We still have many of our 3-year hydrangeas on sale for $30.  Check out our 'On Sale Now' category.  These can be shipped now or in the fall.  Lots of great plants left at 25% or 30% off.

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.

Request for help - unknown pest

Down south, you all have bugs I haven't even seen.  One customer's Annabelle hydrangea is having trouble with a caterpillar type that is draining moisture causing the leaf to fold upon itself.  One leaf looks just like a cocoon.  I would appreciate any help that you could provide about this pest and the cure.  Thanks!

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 especially 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 symptoms to those with not enough water.  Common symptoms for TOO MUCH WATER are...
droopy leaves that don't bounce back after watering
leaves with brown edges that just look tired
blooms or buds may form but will appear 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.

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 varieties 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 Plus!

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 or late summer 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 and where you live.

Q:  Pls clear up some confusion Re: best fertilization practices.  You have said that over fertilization will cause lush growth at the expense of blooms.  I understand that concept and I have always fed on the lean side to avoid that problem.  In your last newsletter, you mention use of super phosphate and 18-10-10 liquid fert. and you also said "fertilize often".  This seems to me a complete contradiction of what you have said in the past.   How much is too much???  I use 10-10-10 granular, slow release which is the standard, all around fertilizer these days in early spring when the buds break and start to leaf out.  I could use 30-10-10 as a liquid but have not used it on hydrangeas due to your past advice.  While 18 is a marginal number, it is getting on up there and seems to be a bit excessive for nitrogen.   Pls explain, clarify and simplify to resolve this matter.  I am sure I am not alone with this question.

A:  Remember that we (the nursery) are (is) trying to grow hydrangeas with good root systems and good branching systems.  Blooms are really an added bonus for us in the nursery.  In fact, most the time, we cut the blooms off so the plant can stay healthy.  In containers, the frequent watering flushes out many of the nutrients so we need to constant feed.  Especially in these months when the hydrangea is actively growing.
In the garden, the 10-10-10 slow release is perfect.  The best evidence is the hydrangeas.  Are they blooming reliably year after year?  That's the true test for the needed level of fertilizer.
With the recent cold spell on the east coast, many hydrangeas may be struggling.  This may call for the use of the extra nitrogen.  That 30-10-10 may be what the hydrangeas need to get back to their healthy state.  At least for the current year, that is.

Q:  Hello, I am looking for a small blue hydrangea and wondering what your suggestions might be (you have SO many options). Here are the specifics: Zone 6 (Rhode Island) part shade (afternoon shade) preferably lacecap... something that stays relatively small - maybe 4' at maturity. Thank you so much for your suggestions.

A:  There isn't a true macrophylla lacecap that will stay 4'.  Most will grow to 5 or 6'.  The Teller series are your best selection in my opinion.  They are strong and sturdy plants that don't get floppy.  My favorites are Zaunkoenig (the one I've been able to keep the most compact) and Blaumeise.  These are pH sensitive so your soil should be acidic in order for you to get blue blooms.
If you don't mind another variety of hydrangea, consider the serratas. They are more compact.  The lacecaps that I think will meet your needs are Blue Billow (3 feet) and Blue Deckle (3 feet tall but about 4 feet wide).  I just adore the blue deckle.  It's one of my favorites of all the hydrangeas.
Thank you for your question.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

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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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®