Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,

Welcome to the November 2005 edition of our Hydrangeas Plus® newsletter.  We hope that this newsletter finds you and your family healthy and happy.  

Rain is upon us here in the Willamette Valley.  I saw the rain gauge and in just 36 hours we're up to 4 inches of rain!  The nursery is holding up well.  Hydrangeas have begun their decent into dormancy with wonderful and colorful changes in the leaf and bloom.  My serrata Blue Deckle outside the office is more spectacular (in my opinion) now that it was in peak bloom.  Reds and yellow leaves really highlight this fantastic cultivar.  Another one of my favorites that I can see from my office is the Oakleaf Snowflake.  That burgundy red leaf can be seen from across the nursery.  Everyone should have an oakleaf - even if you don't have room for it.

In case I forget with all the Holiday hoopla, thank you all for a great year.  Our family and employees thank you for your business.  Your comments have been wonderful and we appreciate your emails and your successes and challenges.  As always, let us know how we can help you.  

Yes, that time again.  We're doing our 10/20/30 sale.  What is that you ask?  Order $100 of plants or amendments and get 10% off.  Order $200 of plants or amendments and get 20% off.  Finally, order $300 of plants or amendments and get 30% off.  This offer is good through 12/31/05.  Sorry, we can't apply the discount to the shipping cost.  No coupon or code is necessary, the discount will come right off your order.  This can applied for plants/amendments shipped this fall or next spring.

Gift Ideas
I know that Halloween has just wrapped and the turkey isn't even defrosted yet and you probably don't want to think about this yet but...have you started your Holiday shopping yet?  I haven't even started thinking about it. Other than the kids pausing the TIVO and pointing at all they want for Christmas.  Let us help you with get your shopping done early for all those gardeners and hydrangea nuts on your list. How about a gift certificate from Hydrangeas Plus?  We have online redemption available with our website.  We can email a gift certificate or send one the old fashioned way through the Postal Service.  We can do any amount you specify, too.  Please let us know if we can help with your gift giving this Holiday season.

Time to update your address online

We are working on our 'new varieties' mailer and we need your help.  Please keep us up-to-date on any address changes.  We'll be sending the mailer after Christmas so that it doesn't get lost in the unavoidable shuffle of presents and cards.  Just sign up online with a login and password or update your address on line.  Just by logging on the website with a password, you can automatically be on our mailing list - FREE.  If you have already established a login and forgot your password and login name, just go to the purple help box on the bottom right on the website to the 'Recover Password'.  Type in your email address and we'll send you the information.  If we don't have an account for you, this screen will tell you you're not set up and we need your address.

And, to get you motivated, we're giving away gift certificates, plants, amendments, hydrangea calendars, etc!  Just establish a login (or login with your established one) and we'll sign you up to win a gift.  We'll give away one gift certificate every week through the end of the year.  No purchase is necessary to qualify for the drawings.

Winter is coming
In case you didn't know, hydrangeas are deciduous and will lose their leaves during the winter months.  Warmer zones (like areas in California and Florida) may not experience total leaf loss.  In fact, warmer climates may have hydrangeas that keep their leaves all year long and just discolor.  You may remove those leaves if you don't like the discoloration or wait until warmer days when the new leaves will push the old leaves off the plant.

In most areas (zone 6b and above), cold weather shouldn't harm your macrophylla (mophead and lacecap) hydrangeas.  The Paniculata, Arborescens, climbing Petiolaris and Oakleaf are all much hardier and should be safe to zone 4 without protection.  Severe cold weather after periods of unseasonably warm weather could be a problem and cause your plants not to bloom the following summer.  Here in Oregon, our typical fall season is ideal for hydrangeas with a gradual decrease in temperatures.  With the gradual decline, the hydrangeas are slowly going dormant and losing their leaves.  We get the most fabulous color changes for this very reason.  After your first hard frost, leaves should begin to fall.

Remember, most macrophyllas bloom on old wood so to ensure blooms the following summer, old growth (this year's current growth) needs to survive the winter to produce buds next year.  Most macrophylla types are bud hardy in the range of 0 degrees to -10 degrees.   If you want to give you hydrangeas some added winter protection, just to be safe, there are several things you can do to protect your hydrangeas.  See our commonly asked question section for tips.

New varieties coming, new varieties are coming
We have already let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, with the Lady in Red hydrangea for 2006.  The fall color on this variety is better than any I've seen.  Order early to make sure you get your Lady in Red hydrangea.  They are available now or for spring shipment.

I have just received confirmation from Bailey's Nursery that we were allocated some of the Blushing Bride hydrangea - the white, new wood bloomer.  This fabulous bred hydrangea is a controlled cross between Endless Summer and Veitchii.  The ship date is sometime in July of 2006 but we were only able to get the 3 year size so watch for those available next summer and fall.  I acquired a test specimen and it is still blooming for me.  Yes, in November.

Now, what else will we offer for next year???  Just wait and see.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q:  We've been experiencing a lot of fog lately and powdery mildew is infecting the leaves of the plants.  There's a lot of air circulation around the plants and I have them under full shade.  Would it help to put them where they can get some sun?  Would it help if I let them dry between waterings? 

A:  It is that time of year that the powdery mildew is upon us.  The mildew is more prevalent when you have warm days and cool nights.  If it occurs in the fall, the leaves will fall off eventually and the fungus will go away in the winter months.  But, it is still annoying.   Since we are so late in the season, I would avoid doing anything chemically as the leaves will soon fall off as the plant goes dormant.
If you experience powdery mildew in the spring or in an area where hydrangeas don't go completely leafless, you may spray a phosphate or homemade baking soda product or other fungicide.  The best acting products contain sulfur, fenarimol, dinocap, triadimifon or benomyl.  Refer to the instructions on the package to determine method and timing of application.  Weather conditions such as temperature and humidity are important factors when determining when to apply fungicides. 

It is most important is keeping the mildew from spreading.  Remove the infected leaves or any that have fallen from the plant.  Remove mulch and replace with clean mulch.  Remove any unnecessary vegetation away from the base of the plants.  If you caught it soon enough, apply olive oil or horticulture oil to the leaves and rub away the mildew.  It may leave black spots if the mildew has been on the leaf for a while.   I read somewhere that one plant can generate 100,000 spores in just one day so catching it early is best. 

Here are some other tips for fighting Powdery Mildew:

- Keep the area under the plant free from fallen leaves and debris
- Limit watering just to prevent the plant from wilting (don't overwater)
- Water in the morning hours
- Move the plants to a sunnier location
- Give plants plenty of room to grow

Here is a recipe for a homemade fungus fighter:

Mix a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 quart of warm water in a small plastic spray bottle. Add 1/2 teaspoon of either liquid dish soap or insecticidal soap to help the solution cling to the foliage. Spray infected plants thoroughly on both sides of the leaves every 5 to 10 days.

Q:  i live in "way upstate new york" just south of ottawa ..what should i do to ready my hydrangea for the winter? ..when do i mulch? ..

Perfect timing!  I'm working on the newsletter for next month and the winterizing is the subject of the month.  If you have Paniculatas, Arborescens, Oakleaf or climbing hydrangeas, they should be just fine with mulching around the base of the plant after leaf drop.  If you macrophylla (mophead and lacecap) hydrangeas had trouble blooming this year, I would suggest some winter protection.

For the macrophylla (mopheads and lacecaps) wait until the leaves fall off or fall off just to the touch.  That should be a week or so after your first hard frost.  I suspect this may be the perfect time for you or close to it..  Take off the spent blooms if you haven't already cut them.  Loosely tie the branches together with twine. 

For your hydrangea to bloom next summer, the old wood needs to survive.  The best way for that old wood to survive the winter is to cover the plant and protect it from the cold, freezing temperatures.  Hydrangeas should be all right to about 10 degrees.  However, the macrophylla types are especially susceptible to drastic changes in temperatures (unseasonable high temperatures followed by extreme cold). 

There are a variety of ways to protect hydrangeas.  Some people can just get away with wrapping the tied up branches with tightly woven burlap.  If you get lots of snow cover and the hydrangeas will be mostly covered, the snow and burlap with insulate them.  If hydrangeas are in a very protected area, the burlap could be enough to protect them. 

If you don't want to take any chances, here are some extended protection ideas.  Use a tomato cage or similar structure (recently, zone 5 NY customer told me she uses tall Peony and Dahlia cages).    After structure is in place, fill with composted leaves, leaf or bark mulch.  Wrap the whole structure with burlap.  You can also cut up old plastic garbage cans and form them around the plants to eliminate the need for the burlap.  If your plants aren't too big, use old nursery containers.  Before my parents moved here to the Willamette Valley, they lived in a colder region and used 5 gallon containers on their hydrangeas with rocks on top to keep them from blowing away.

Remove the structure after your last hard frost in the spring.  You may still want to have some frost protection sheets to throw over the plants in case of a late spring frost but you are probably safe around May 1st. 

NOTE FROM ZONE 5 - IL - Just wanted to let you know, since some zone 4-5 questions were on the newsletter, that I have had good luck also using Wilt Pruf in addition to wrapping my hydrangeas in zone 5.  Also, I have had good luck using floating (vegetable) row cover instead of burlap.

I hope that helps.  Thank you for your question.

I am a Master Gardener Intern here in W. Massachusetts, and we had a booth at the big Eastern States Exposition.  We receive MANY questions about hydrangeas--more than about anything else, I think!  Mostly, "Why didn't they bloom this year".  Indeed, my own 'Endless Summer' grew well but bloomed less than it's first year (last summer).  Of course we asked the obvious questions like: Enough sun? When did you prune? DId you fertilize?  What about the soil?  Etc..  But I'm afraid none of us really had a clue what exactly to tell them.  We could only hint at "too hard a winter, not enough sun, pruned wrong time, etc."  I would love more thoughts that I might pass on to the other Master Gardeners here in Western Mass.

A:  You really touched on all the possibilities.  I can't think of another reason.

A question you can ask is 'did the hydrangea grow only from the base of the plant?'  If that's the case, most hydrangeas bloom on old wood so if all the old wood didn't come back, there are fewer blooms.  If you had a hard winter, that's probably the reason.

The hydrangeas like Endless Summer to bloom on new wood, should bloom no matter what the weather.  Unless of course, too much fertilizer, poor soil, not enough water, etc - all the other reasons you mention.

When I talk with people on the phone, you really have to go through all the possibilities.  Most often for me discussions with customer lead to trouble because of pruning or weather.

Here's my answer for hydrangeas that don't bloom
The most common reason why macrophylla (mophead and lacecap) hydrangeas don't bloom is improper pruning.  Most hydrangeas bloom on old growth or last year's wood.   If you cut too much of that old wood off when you prune or you cut that wood too late, you won't get blooms.  See our pruning tips for more info.

The second most common reason why hydrangeas don't bloom is due to cold weather.   This may be your issue.  The Macrophylla hydrangeas are hardy to about zone 6 or between –10 degrees and zero degrees on the Fahrenheit scale for your Winter low temperatures.  Some varieties are hardy to zone 5.  If your Winter temperatures fall between these temperatures for long periods of time, it would be advisable to protect the hydrangeas to ensure blooms.  Again, the old wood of the hydrangea must survive in order to get blooms the following Summer.  If your hydrangea is dying to the ground every year, consider a hardier hydrangea.

In addition, unseasonably low temperatures after a mild Winter also cause a lack of blooming on hydrangeas. Again, most macrophylla hydrangeas bloom on old wood and if the leafed-out plant is actively growing and hit by late Spring frost or an early Winter frost, the buds freeze and the hydrangea won't bloom.

Fertilizing too much can also stunt your blooms.  Too much nitrogen and you get a healthy plant with beautiful foliage, but no blooms.  Use a balanced fertilizer, time release like Osmocote just a few times a year - Spring and early fall.  See our info about fertilizing hydrangeas on the website, too. 

Finally, hydrangeas need some sun to bloom.  I think a few hours of sun is perfect.

I hope that helps.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.



A:  Don't' worry about feeding the newly transplanted Nikkos right now.  Too much nitrogen absorbed and the stems and stalks become weak and very susceptible to frost damage.  Mulch the base of the plants as soon as the leaves fall off (should be sometime in the next month or so).  The mulching will keep the roots and ground warm for some extra time so the roots can continue to establish before the whole plant (roots and all) go dormant for the winter sleep.  In the spring, when leaves start peeking out, fertilize with a balanced, time release fertilizer.  16-16-16 or 10-10-10, something like that. But, don't rush out and buy something special, any shrub food will be fine.  If you get yellowing leaves in the late spring, add another dose of fertilizer at that time.

That is a huge Oakleaf.  Cut it back so that you cut all the stem off except for one big, pretty leaf node.  The hydrangeas are so much easier to move if they are smaller.  Wrap the branches loosely with twine and tie up the branches.  This will make it easier to see under the plant and where the roots are.  Hydrangeas' roots are fairly shallow and usually are as wide as the spread of the plant.  A 10 foot hydrangea could have a pretty large root system.  Get as much of the roots as possible.  Plant it in the new location quickly.  You may also cut up the hydrangea and make several plants.  Most hydrangeas will adjust very well.  Oakleaf are sometimes a little sensitive to lots of root movement in the summer months particularly.

Thank you for your question.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q:  This summer a hydrangea that was here (and full grown, and doing great) when we moved in 2 years ago died suddenly, even though surrounded by hydrangeas I had planted more recently which were thriving. The leaves drooped straight down, turned brown, and fell off. Now it seems to be putting out some new growth at the base of the plant, but the rest of the plant is completely brown and dead-looking. Is this a common thing? I was worried it was something contagious but my other hydrangeas are still doing great. Thanks for any comments!

A:  Sometimes hydrangeas do die.  I had two die this year.  Usually it turns out to be environmental not fungus.  I call it USER ERROR in my case - sprinklers weren't reaching them.

Most often, it's a water issue.  It can be too much or too little.  Your description sounds like too much water.  It could be too little water as well - the signs are so close to each other.  Perhaps the run off from the sprinklers or a broken water line could have caused this trouble.  Or watering program missed the hydrangea.  It does take a lot to totally kill off a hydrangea as you can tell by the new growth.  Perhaps the problem fixed itself.  Cut off all the dead branches.  It may recover and be perfectly healthy next year. 

When hydrangeas have too much water, they never perk up - they always look droopy, even after a good watering.
When hydrangeas need more water, they will perk up within an hour or two of watering.

This year was a bad year for field mice, voles and moles here in the Willamette Valley because the winter was so mild.  They could have eaten the roots of the hydrangea but you would have seen other signs beside just the hydrangea's demise.

I hope that helps.  Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®