What to do with that Mother’s Day hydrangea
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
May 23, 2012 | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The beautiful big leaf hydrangea is a favorite this time of year when so many people have been given one for Mother’s Day or some other reason and they are wondering what to do with it. Since I have had several calls this past week, it seems I have neglected this lovely plant.

The first question is what to do with the potted plant with the big blue blooms. They are a hardy plant so you need to set it on a porch or deck for a few days so it can become acclimated to our weather. Then choose a spot for planting it in a permanent place. They prefer light shade and rich moist soil so you must remember to water them often this summer. It is a good idea to plant them near your water source if possible to make it easier to remember to water. Hydrangeas are subject to powdery mildew so check the leaves often and pick off the infected leaves and spray the plant with a fungicide which lists powdery mildew on the container. As with all flowering shrubs, they should not be planted where tree roots or other shrubs will invade their space. The lovely part of the big leaf hydrangea is that the large flower clusters dry so well. Simply pick them with long stems, tie several stems together, hang upside down somewhere in your house. Easy! It is hard to believe that they stay that pretty blue. I have found that it’s best to pick them for drying just when the flowers have opened up. They make lovely wreaths and vases of them everywhere.

Again, if you want blue flowers, use an acid fertilizer. If you want pink blooms, better buy one which is pink when you buy it. Or add lime to your plant but you may end up with a hydrangea which doesn’t know what color to be.

When you are buying new perennials to add to your flower beds, be very careful that you aren’t introducing a disease, such as mildew, into your clean beds. Always examine each plant that you buy for signs of mildew or insect damage. Look for eggs on the undersides of the leaves. This is especially true if you buy from a big discount store. I have found that nurseries are more careful because they don’t want to introduce disease into their own plants.

If you must spray some plant for disease, use a sprayer with Ortho combination disease and insect control. Always use this spray sparingly, only spraying plants which must be sprayed.

By the first of June, most gardeners have planted their perennials and bedding plants. They can now turn to other forms of gardening. One of the oldest things a gardener can do with flowers is to make potpourri. This hobby has been around for hundreds of years. First it was just dried rose petals and buds in dresser drawers and under beds. Now you can use a recipe for much more fun.

3 quarts dried rose petals, 1 quart mixed materials such as clover blossoms, lavender leaves and blooms, carnations and any scented blooms.

6 cinnamon sticks, broken, ¼ cup whole cloves.

2 ounces orris root, ground

1 small bottle rose scented oil or any other scented oil.

You can use lemon thyme, lemon balm, any other fragrant herb, leaves of artemisia, dill seed heads, dried orange and lemon rind, clusters of hydrangea, any wild flower, Queen Anne’s Lace, sumac seed clusters. All of these items must be dried well before adding to your jar. I spread each day’s pickings on newspapers in a spare room for a couple of weeks. Then add to a large jar. I use a handful of salt to each jar and shake it well. It’s important to pick all the ingredients when dry, preferably at midmorning.

A good place to find those large jars is at a restaurant. I am sure the kitchen people would happily save you some jars. You can find the orris root and the scented oils in craft stores, drug stores and in specialty catalogs. The orris root is a bit expensive but goes a long way.

This potpourri makes a lovely gift in a glass jar with a ribbon.

When the potpourri scent begins to fade, squeeze the ingredients and it will release the scent for a short time. You also will want to keep adding the scented oils, and properly cared for, potpourri will last for years.

I hope I have given you an incentive for a new hobby.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions.
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