Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,

Welcome to the October 2007 edition of the Hydrangeas Plus® e-mail newsletter.   Oh, I just love October.  We are seeing rain, rain, rain, a bit early for us.  But the plants are loving it.

We wrapped up LeTour Des Plants last month.  Welcome to all our new customers!!  Can you believe there were some hydrangea lovers that didn't know about our little nursery?  Our wonderful Oregon Association of Nurseries ( organizes and produces this self guided tour of garden centers, niche nurseries and display gardens to help the retail members generate some fall revenue.  I believe the eastern side of the United States has figured out that fall is a great time to plant but our Northwest gardener is just now beginning to see such value.

Thank you for Paul Simmons (resident Kiwi guy) and Scott Christy (Terra Nova Nurseries Nursery Manager and hydrangea expert) for spending time with our Hydrangeas Plus customers.  Paul grows a few acres of Kiwi here in the Northwest, produces honey (well, the bees do all the work) while maintaining a remodeling business in Dundee, Oregon.  Oh, and he's addicted to hydrangeas thanks to Scott Christy. Scott is the nursery manager for one of our largest nurseries in Oregon.  Terra Nova Nurseries is an industry leader in breeding and producing premium perennials.  Say that 10 times fast producing premium perennials.  Thank you again, gentlemen!

If you're unsure about fall planting, call your local garden center or agricultural extension office.  My rule of thumb is that if you have 6 to 8 weeks before your hard frost, it's safe to plant.  The advantage to fall planting is that you don't have to water all winter like you would with a spring planted crop. As always, mulch your plants for the first few winters to be sure the roots get established before winter and maximize root growth.  Transplanting in the fall for our area is 99% successful versus the spring at just 70%.  Wow!  

The ladies have arrived....
These new varieties will knock your socks off.  Pictures and descriptions are online.

Hydrangea macrophylla Sabrina ™ - White sepals and red edges form a delectable mophead
This compact shrub is one of those plants you can't just walk by without stopping and looking.  This is three foot hydrangea was bred by D. VanDerSpek of the Sidaco BV in Holland in 2002.  It is one of the Dutch Ladies Series of hydrangeas we acquired several years ago.  This stunning hydrangea has white petals with red edge and dark red new growth.  I've rated it zone 7 to 9 because it was grown specifically for the hothouse and florist industry and I think it's a little tender to bloom in zone 6.  It blooms on old wood and grows in partial sun well.

Hydrangea macrophylla Sharona™ - da da da da don, My Sharona
Does anyone else remember that song?  I'm totally dating myself.  This introduction from the Dutch Ladies series is the largest of the group growing to about 5 feet.  The coral pink edges really stand out against the yellow center mophead.  This is an outstanding cultivar.

Hydrangea macrophylla Sol – Sol for your soul
This is another compact shrub that sported in our nursery after our original shipment of Dutch Ladies came from the supplier.  It's stunning red foliage gives you year long interest.  Again, I've rated it a bit less hardy than most other macrophylla because of our experience with the tender blooms.  Sol is named for our foreman's beautiful daughter, Sol America.

Hydrangea Macrophylla Stella ™ - Stella!! this large bloom screams for attention
This hydrangea has luscious green growth and large pastel pink flower with just a slight red edge.  This is the last but not least of the Dutch Ladies of hydrangeas that we are proud to offer.  The plants grows about 4 feet tall and wide.

Retail Schedule set for next year
I have the retail schedule on the website under 'Retail Hours' in the help section.  These are locations where our plants will be offered or dates and times that you may come to the nursery and shop.  So far, there are five events.

Hydrangeas are coming back in stock!
Most of the hydrangeas are now back in stock!  Order now to ensure your first choice will be available for fall or spring shipping.  

We are short on a few varieties for this shipping season.  We hope to have them back in stock for next year.  Sometimes even we have trouble propagating varieties.  

I have replenished our inventory of hydrangea trees but remember, the Paniculata trees are available for shipping in the SPRING ONLY.  Local customers may pick them up, too.  Just email or call ahead and we can have them ready for you.  These are the only plants that we send bare root so it's very important that we ship them while they are still dormant.  The Paniculata varieties of hydrangeas are not sensitive to frost so as soon as your ground is defrosted or defrozened enough to plant, we can ship them.

Thank you for your patience.  If you'd like to be notified when a particular variety and size is ready, just go to that product online at and enter your email address after clicking on the 'Keep me updated' button and we'll send you an email when it's ready.

Tip - Fall and powdery mildew

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 and you don't want it to spread.  
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 over water)
- 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.

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.

Hydrangea news - upcoming gatherings for Hydrangea Lovers around the country - see our website under Society Meetings for more details
New society on Cape Cod!!!  Way to go Joan!

Free Shipping for October  & November for orders over $200
For orders over $200, we'll ship your order free!  This is good through the end of November but plants must be shipped this year (2007).  I'm not sure what shipping costs will be next year.
Use the coupon FREE SHIP.  Using our coupons are not logical (yes, we're working on that) so as soon as you have $200 of product in your cart, type in the coupon code box FREE SHIP.  You only have to fill in it once.  You won't be able to see anything about the free shipping until you check out and enter address and contact information.  Let me know if you have troubles.  I can always adjust it here at my end, revise your order and send you a confirmation.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q - Pruning established plants:  I have 4 Madam Emile Mouillere that are 4 years old.  They grow much larger than I want and are mostly all old wood this year.  Can I cut them right down to the ground now and just leave the few soft wood that started to grow from the ground this year???  I really want a smaller sized plant but love the large white blooms.

A:  If you cut them to the ground, your run the risk of not getting blooms next year.  Madame Emile mostly blooms from old wood and if you cut too far, the blooms won't regenerate in time for next summer.
On the other hand, if you need to keep the plants more in control for size, you can cut just half the stems dramatically and cut the other half just to first leaf node.  Then, next fall, reverse it - cut the longer half drastically and lightly prune the other stems that you cut so dramatically.  That way, you won't be bloom less in the summer.  It will take a few years to get the plant back into control, however. 

Try not to make hydrangeas smaller than they want to be, you'll lose the blooms.  If you need a small plant, select a smaller variety.

Q - Pruning new plants:  I planted the white lanarth I bought from you last fall and it is beautiful. it is getting cool here in the evenings and i want to make sure i prune it correctly and at the right time. could you pass that info along to me?

A:  Does it really need pruning?  Young plant may not need to be pruned.  Cut of old blooms and do a little shaping but that's all you should need to do.
I have directions for pruning macrophylla in the catalog on page 9 if you still have that.  There's also directions on our website under hints & tips.  Generally, once established, cut for shape down to the a really healthy and perpendicular set of leaf nodes.  I like to prune in the fall so I can see a healthy node.  That cut will give you two branches next summer.  

Prune in the spring or the fall.  But, if pruning in the spring, don't cut much.  I prune in the fall about 6 weeks before estimated first frost.  Paniculata and Arborescens family hydrangeas can be cut any time because they bloom on new wood.
Q - Water:  How much water do Hydrangeas need in the fall??  I have a drip system and water every 3 to 4 days in the heat of the summer but now it is cooler, I'm not sure. We still have not had rain.

A:  You may definitely reduce the watering now that fall is here and the plants are starting their descent into dormancy.  Until the rain comes, continue that schedule.  Hydrangeas just need to stay moist.  Once they lose leaves, even less water is required but you'll still need to water unless Mother Nature can help out a bit.
Q - Winter protection for newly rooted plants: I have several plants I've rooted this summer, some being 10" tall although they are only 2 months old. Should I go ahead and plant them in the ground and cover with lots of leaves for the winter, keep them in the plastic pots and cover with leaves or keep them in the garage? We are on a water restriction and can't water at all outside!!! Would they be better if I bring them inside the garage when frosts start approaching? I am in Zone 7. Thanks for your reply.

A:  For safety of the root systems, I would suggest keeping them inside the garage.  Because they are only 2 months old, their root systems may not be able to handle the cold quite yet.  Top growth is a good indication, however, that roots are doing well.  That one that is 10" is probably good for the ground now.  Look at the root ball if you really want to get it in the ground.  If it's good sized, go ahead and plant.  Mulch it well this fall (treat it like you would any newly planted shrub).

Q - Purple hydrangea:  I am trying to find a hydrangea that blooms a very dark plum or purple. I see them occasionally but haven't yet been able to find one to buy. Would you have such a one or know where, or how I could find this particular plant?

A:  The purple varieties are the good red ones in acidic soil.  The fresh color purple is best on Alpengluhen, Ami Pasquier, Miss Belgium, Horben, Gertrude Glahn and Mathilda Gutges.
In our acidic soil here in Oregon, there is a chance it will turn all the way to blue, depending on the year.  

Hydrangeas are not the plant for  you if you want an exact color - especially for us in the Northwest.  Most our hydrangeas just turn blue over time.  

Q - No blooms:  I read your newsletter with a great deal of interest. I have fifteen hydrangeas planted three years ago. The first year every bush was full of blooms. This year I have only two very dark pink flowers, and none last year. I have tried cutting them back to the ground in the fall. Last fall I did not prune them at all. Nothing seem to work. No one seems to know which variety I have and therefore cannot tell me how to prune them. Nor can they tell me why they do not have blooms. Any advice on what to do? If they wont bloom, I see no reason to keep them.

A:  If you'd like, send me a picture and maybe I can narrow down the variety for you.
The reasons why hydrangeas don't bloom are usually (1) too much pruning (2) improper pruning time - too late (spring) (3) weather - too cold or transition to winter/summer too drastic (4) too much shade (5) too much fertilizer.
Perhaps you need hardier varieties, too.  Your part of Michigan has been known to be hard on macrophylla hydrangea that bloom on old wood.
New wood blooming macrophylla (All Summer Beauty, Blushing Bride, etc.) would be your best selection for mopheads.  Or, protect the ones you have this fall by wrapping with burlap after leaf drop.  Remove covering in the spring after the last frost.
Macrophylla don't like late spring frosts and your area indeed got a nasty one around Easter this year.

Q - Plants on the decline:  We have a big plant in the back yard and the leaves are yellow and falling off.....we just moved here in June, the plant was so pretty....we have been running the sprinklers every other day.....I am so sad that the hydrangea is sick....should I send you a picture?..there was only one blue bloom the entire I need to fertilize it? is it too wet, too dry?...we are in a coastal communitey...the plant has been living for four!!

A:  It could be going dormant, it could be lack of water.  However, it's probably the late spring frost that NC got at Easter.  That deep freeze made it a needy year for hydrangeas in terms of fertilizer.
It's probably a bit late for fertilizer but in the spring, definitely fertilize.   If you have some balanced, time release fertilizer, you may use that.  Avoid instant fertilizer, the nitrogen may lower the plant's ability to withstand the cold weather.
Too wet or too dry could also be the problem.  You touched on them all.

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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®