Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,

Welcome to 2005!
Welcome to the March 2005 edition of Hydrangeas Plus® newsletter.  Spring has sprung early for us once again.  We set record temperatures last week.  It was 66 degrees here in Aurora.  The plants are about 2 weeks ahead of schedule and looking fantastic! We started shipping in Mid February with a record 80 packages.  We were exhausted.  But keep those orders coming.

March is typically a great time to plant for those zone 7, 8 and 9 gardens.  Be sure that your frost has past before you plant to ensure that the buds (future flowers) don't freeze.  If you watch the weather and notice that a frost is close (usually 35 degrees and below), grab an old bedsheet or light blanket and cover those tender buds.  Be careful when you put on and take off the covering.  The buds are very tender and break off easily with too much handling.

Yard Garden Patio Show in February was a great success.  Welcome all our new customers.  We will be at Hoffman’s Dairy & Farm in Canby, Oregon at Gardenpalooza Saturday, March 26th from 8am to 4pm.  Come visit us at Hoffman’s on Knight’s Bridge Road.

Annual ‘Overstocks’ spring sale is April 22rd-May 7th, 8 to 5 everyday.

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.  You may want to 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.  We are now selling fertilizer, aluminum sulfate & garden lime on our website.

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.

Special offer for March 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 March so get those orders in early.  Just type in 'FREE SHIPPING' in the coupon section on the order form once your order for plants and amendments 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.  

New Varieties
We are offering many new varieties in our fantastic new catalog and website for 2005.  These varieties are in limited supply and will sell quickly so order quickly. Order early so we don't sell out of your first choice.  Be sure to select an estimated ship date with your order. We don't want to ship the plants before your last frost date has past.

Arborescens Radiata - Lacecap version of popular ‘Annabelle’
Aspera Robusta – The Granddaddy of the Asperas
Macrophylla Blue Danube – Large blue blooms on this prolific plant
Macrophylla Bottstein – Crowded red blooms on a wonderful semi dwarf shrub
Macrophylla Fuji Waterfall - Cascades of double white blooms
Macrophylla Horben – tightly packed blooms on this gorgeous bloom
Macrophylla Princess Juliana – Crowned Queen of the white blooming hydrangeas
Macrophylla Red Star – Don't let the name fool you
Paniculata Webb – Great big white flowers on strong stems
Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’ - A beautiful climbing cousin of Petiolaris
Seamanii (sē-mon-ē-ī) - Mid summer dream—and winter, too
Serrata Diadem – The crown jewel of Serrata
Serrata Miyama Yae Murasaki – A midsummer double bloomer
Serrata Pretty Maiden – We haven't seen anything like this one
Quercifolia Alice – A wonderful seedling from Dr. Michael Dirr
Quercifolia PeeWee – Compact form of beloved Oakleaf family
Quercifolia Snowflake – Our favorite Oakleaf hydrangea
Quercifolia Snow Giant – Large double blooms on this wonderful Oakleaf
Quercifolia Snow Queen – Blooms stand upright on this majestic Oakleaf

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.

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

It would be very helpful to be able to search by USDA zone.  I often look at a beautiful hyndrangea only to discover that I can't grow it here.
A:  We still need to write the search program but that's the reason we illustrated each zone by variety.

here's a hint...
Zone 4
Arborescens family - this is Annabelle's family of hydrangeas
Paniculata family
Oakleaf family (higher zone 4s)

For zone 5, add
new wood blooming macrophyllas (Dooley, All Summer Beauty, Penny Mac)
Japonica Coerulea (lacecap) - could be 4b

For zone 6

Thank you for your question.

Q:  I am a great admirer of your products and have several in my garden.  I am looking for a hydrangea--all mop heads excluded==that will grow well in a shady area and be relatively small, three to five feet.  Coould you please advise? Also, what is the best time in the spring to plant a hydrangea?
A:  Unfortunately, shady areas usually tend to give us taller than illustrated sizes for hydrangeas.  I would recommend any of the 3 to 4 foot varieties.  As long as there is some brightness, they should be fine.  Some of these smaller varieties are Miss Belgium, Enziandom, Ami Pasquier, Merritt's Supreme, Forever Pink.  These are all zone 6 plants.

Shipping to your area should take place after your last frost has past.  That could be April 15 or May 15, depending on your area.  Order early, however.  WE sell out of the popular varieties quickly.
NOTE - quick and dirty guide to spring planting
February - zone 9
March - zone 8
April - zone 7
May - zone 6
June - zone 5

Q:  What are the smallest mophead hydrangeas that you sell that can be grown in a container or a very small garden space?  Would love to grow them but most seem just too large for my situation.
A:  The smallest are the macrophylla Pia and the Serrata Blue Billow.  both grow 2-3 feet and are great for small areas.

The 3-4 foot varieties can be kept in a pot too but the Pia & Blue Billow are perfect.

Q:  Hi: I received a Shooting Star Hydrangea And I don't know how to care for it, the flowers have dried up and new follage is growing I have it in a nice size pot. should I cut back the dried flower now, I have 5 big blooms that are dried up should I leave them like that or should I cut them off?
A:  The forced varieties are really similar to the outdoor variety and it could grow like one eventually.  I really not an expert on growing hydrangeas indoor.  I buy the grocery store varieties during the winter so there is at least some blooms but they are usually moved outdoors within the year.

The Shooting Star hydrangea is possible a rename of Hanabi, Mt. Fuji, Shirofuji or even the variety we're growing called Fuji Waterfall.  Great white cascading blooms.

I've found that forced hydrangeas aren't as healthy as naturally grown hydrangeas.  They grow better if they are allowed to have a dormant period and a growth period.  Most varieties grow very quickly and may not be healthy grown inside without moving the plant to a larger pot every few years.

Hydrangeas like slightly acidic soil too.  In the artificial media that most of these forced plants are grown, you'll need to keep the acidity level up (aka, the pH level down).  Tea leaves, coffee grounds or Aluminum sulfate can help because they are acidic. 

If you do move it outside, be sure that you don't move it until the last chance of cold weather has past and there is no chance of any frost.  My general rule of thumb is don't move the forced hydrangea outside until the outside hydrangeas are at the same stage of leaf.  That can be April, May or June, depending on your area.
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 lots of sun.  The macrophyllas (mopheads and lacecaps) plus most of the serratas can take mostly shade.

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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®