Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,

Welcome to the Hydrangeas Plus newsletter for May!

I am determined to get our May newsletter out but so much is happening here at the nursery. We are in the middle of our spring overstock sale and we're right in the middle of the busiest part of the shipping season.  And, the post office has decided they need to raise rates.  We're still tyring to figure out the impact it will have on our shipping rates.  

All our midwest and eastern customers are emerging from winter.  And, what an awful winter it was.  I hope you'll have some hydrangeas in bloom back there.  We had the same experience last year and we're still seeing the affects.  See below about dealing with frozen plants.  We've got lots of vareities just bursting with buds.

We are having an extremely cool spring here in the Willamette Valley.  But, we've got buds and some blooms already.  Plants are hardening off but still a little sensitive to that sunshine.  We've had just one or two days at 80 so far.  Usually, we're into the 80s consistently by now.  I'm beginning to rust from all the rain.

Plants are growing and growing.  We've begun to cut back some varieties but we're trying to wait as long as possible so we can ship your hydrangeas with buds so they will bloom for you.

What's happening at Hydrangeas Plus®?
On my goodness, what's not happening here at Hydrangeas Plus? 

Our spring sale in happening right now!  Final weekend - come see our blowout prices!
We hope that our local customers can find the time to venture to our nursery and find some room for some bargain priced plants.  We bring out those plants that we have over produced or are taking out of production.  We have over 50 varieties of hydrangea.  Plus, we grow other plants here at the nursery - Azaleas, barberry, heather, hibiscus, grasses, ilex, and many others.  These are all at or below wholesale prices, too.  Sorry, these prices are only good for on-site sales through May 12th.  Kristin relaxes and is out of commission for Mother's Day.

Our spring sale is always the two weeks before Mothers Day every year.  We select this time of year for several reasons.  First, it's at the end of our busy wholesale shipping season and second, it's right before planting so that we can ‘clean out the nursery’ of plants that are left over or that we don't want to move into a bigger size.  And make room for the new plants!

We are also hard at work planting new hydrangeas. You've probably noticed that we are very low on hydrangea varieties right now.  We're planting as fast as we can so we can have them ready for summer (if your area doesn't get too warm) and fall shipping but some varieties may not be ready until Spring.  If you must have a variety that is out of stock, be sure to sign up for our email notification for that variety.  We will email you as soon as they are big enough to ship out.  It's usually September 1st for the three year plants and September 15th for the one year plants.

The 4" hydrangeas are mostly ready.  I just need to get out there and see what's rooted.

I've got some new varieties in the works for next year.  I do like to grow a variety for a year (at least) so that I have some real life experience before we recommend it to our customers.  I'm not one to take the word of other growers - I must have my own experience so that I can honestly tell customers about the plants we grow.

Finally, we're getting ready for Le Tour de Plants.  This is a self guided tour of garden centers and nurseries in Oregon.  Not every garden center will participate.  Dates are September 14th - 23rd.  We'll have specials going on here at the nursery and I hope to have everything available for on site sales.  Plus, we're putting hydrangeas in the ground with hopes we'll have something to look at, too.

New Website feature
I've added some pages to illustrate Hydrangea happenings across the country.  It's in the help box, bottom left hand side of the website.  I will keep up to date (with the help of the wonderful hydrangea societies) the meeting schedules.  Several of the societies are meeting this month so take a look.  The title is 'Society Mtgs'.  

I have also added a RETAIL HOURS!! for our retail events at the nursery.  Check back regularly for updates.

Frozen Plants
We were so sorry to hear about the freezing temperatures on the east side of the country.  Here are some tips we hope will help.

If your temperatures dipped into the high 20s, chances are the plants will survive but blooms will be sparse on Macrophylla and Serrata cultivars.  Paniculatas and Arborescens will probably be fine and bloom like normal years.  Oakleaf may recover and bloom, too.

You probably won't lose the plant but it may look pretty bad for a year.  Prune back to firm growth.  You should see some recovery quickly if damage was centralized to just stems.  If the roots froze, which I suspect is a rare occurrence, you may need to replace the plant.  Container plants probably suffered the most because root systems were less protected.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.

Cutting Hydrangea Blooms

Now that hydrangeas are starting to bloom, we get the ‘cutting hydrangea blooms’ question often.  I asked my friendly cut flower guys (Thanks, Johnthan and Ray) his tricks of the trade and here are his tips.

Don't cut fresh blooms:  Be sure that the hydrangeas are at least a few weeks old.  The older the bloom, the longer it will last.  Color pigments should be fully developed before cutting.

Cut all the leaves off:  Leaves take moisture away from the flower head so strip the leaves off before cutting.  Long stems are nice for vases but the longer the stem, the less water that reaches the bloom.

Immerse cut blooms immediately in water and soak for two hours:  this may require that you weigh the hydrangeas down in the water.  Cold water that has been boiled works the best.

Some other methods for cuts that eliminate the oxygen bubble in the stem:
Florist gel is expensive, time consuming and can be messy but works
Put the cut ends in boiling water
Smash the cut end with a hammer right after cutting
Cut another inch off the stem underwater


What to do for Mother's Day?  We've got hydrangeas?  What a wonderful gift for that special Mother in your life.

We are offering hydrangeas for $30 in the three year size!  Check out our website for specific varieties.  Be sure to order by May 7th to be sure your order arrives in time.  We can process gift certificates (great for that mother you know has everything!) until May 12 via email.

The sale of the $30 three year plants is good till May 31st.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q:  Hi, I bought a Nikko from you this season and it's doing great - 12" of new growth already. I just wanted to ask about droopy stems. A couple of stems that grew from the base ended up flat on the ground and of course I cut these off. However, many other stems seem to be barely able to support themselves and with buds forming I'm worried that some may completely collapse. When it rains I tie a string around the stems to help prop them up but this is not a permanent solution. I suspect this is normal to extent and not to worry but I just wanted to be sure. The plant is very healthy - there may a little too much new growth for it's own good. Is it ever necessary to stake these?

A:  Just keep the floppy branches supported.  The plant will get better as it gets older and the stems get stronger.  It must be adjusting very well to it's new home.  12" of new growth, that's fabulous.
You may also use peony cages or some other more permanent structure.  It will get better as the plant gets older.  You may have to accept the floppiness this year, however.  You may cut the floppy branches but if you do, you will cut off the blooms this year.
We always debate whether to prune the plants before we ship.  Many other mail order companies that offer hydrangeas do that.  Our goal is to get you blooms THIS year.  It doesn't always work but that's our goal for spring shipping.
Thank you for your question.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q:  What is wrong when the Hydrangea bloom is green? The plant is nice and healthy looking, but the blooms were green. I don't know the variety....I got a cutting from a very old plant. The old plant was very large and had large beautiful blue blooms.

A:  Did you happen to use some aluminum sulfate or other amendment to help go blue?  You may have put too much or applied too late.  I've also had this happen to me when fresh blooms open and we get a really hot day.  I know our hot days are not the same as your hot days.  Humidity may also play a role.
Also, limit fertilizer in the hot summer months.  We recommend applying it when you start to see buds (March to early April for us here).
I hope that helps.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q:  I live in zone 6A. My red hydrangea bloomed for the 2nd time last summer....but it was blue/violet. What can I feed it to make the red return? Does the plant need super phosphate? And you have never seen a lovelier site than hillsides covered with red hydrangeas in Ireland........spectacular!! Thanks for your help.
A:  You may use garden lime but I recommend super phosphate fertilizer (like you'd use on your bulbs) if you soil is acidic.  And, I think you do have acidic soil.  The phosphate will bind the aluminum and stop the plant from absorbing it.  Without aluminum, the pigments in the petals will stay red.

Q:  We had a very early Spring--starting in February, We had several 85 degree days ; now I have 12 frozen plants, some knee high and totally leafed out that are in trouble after two nights of 24 degree weather. What should I do now? Hydrangeas are my favorites and I had a lot of time and money invested. I'm just devastated. Help, please. I don't mind missing a year of blooms--i just want to save my plants.

A:  I'm so sorry to hear about your weather. 
As long as they are in the ground with good root systems, they will most likely be fine.  We had the same condition last year in the nursery.  The plants didn't fare as well because we grow all in containers.  As long as the roots didn't freeze, the plants will survive.  You probably won't have many blooms on the old wood blooming macrophylla.  If you have any Paniculata or new wood blooming plants, you'll probably see blooms but very late.
I think the weather over there will get warm again quickly.  At least that's what the people say.  For now, just treat the plants like normal.  A dose of fertilizer this week will be good.  Next weekend, prune off the wilted leaves down to firm growth.  The cold will probably make them look like wilted lettuce.  That growth will probably not regenerate but give it a few days before you prune.

Fertilize often, too.  We use a liquid feed with lots of nitrogen (18), Phosphorus (10) and Potassium (10) for a good all around feed.

I hope that helps.  So sorry about the weather.  What a strange year!

Q:  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.

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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®