They tolerate both full sun and partial shade. They fit well in shrub borders, or as single specimen plants. They seem to do best when planted next to a fence or house where they are sheltered from winter weather. They are perfectly suited to planting at the edge of natural, wooded lots. They must have mulch of some kind. They will do well with ivy or periwinkle planted around the base. This beautiful plant likes rich, moist soil so if your soil tends to be dry, then you must water it often.
There is often a question about pruning hydrangeas and it’s most important to do it after flowers have faded in fall. With sharp pruning shears, cut out the flower stems just above the nearest outward facing bud. Leave new shoots uncut. In spring, after the plant puts out leaves, you can tell the old dead wood which needs to be cut out. Otherwise, no pruning for hydrangeas.
Powdery mildew often attacks hydrangeas so you may have to spray with a fungicide and remove the damaged leaves. They do need to be fertilized in spring. Apply a fertilizer made just for flowering shrubs.
The blue and/or pink variety, with which most of us are familiar, can be made to be Blue by adding aluminum sulfate for blue and lime for pink. There are other varieties of hydrangeas which are just as beautiful or even moreso. There are so many but one which I admire is called Bluebird, which has lacecap blooms, there is the Forever Pink and the most popular is the Blue Bonnet.
As a cut flower, these wonderful blooms make a great arrangement but best of all, hang a bunch of the flower clusters upside-down in the kitchen for a lovely dried flower bouquet in winter.
When buying hydrangeas, if at all possible, buy them in bloom to verify the flower color and be sure the plant isn’t diseased. I got this tip from a nurseryman friend.
Just in case you find you have time on your hands after cleaning up your flower beds, now is the time to plant some lettuce, mustard greens, spinach and turnips. I say this in jest about having time on your hands.
Now that summer is drawing to a close, you can’t do much about this year’s garden but you can plan for next year. Order new roses, order those bulbs you wish each year that you had planted, clean up the flower borders, etc., etc.
Now is the time to plan changes which you expect to make during the winter. My best advice is to start a notebook now while the flower arrangement in the flower beds is fresh in your mind. Make a drawing of each flower bed and list all the plants. Then you will know where to place bulbs and any other plants you want to move this fall. Be sure to name each plant in the drawing.
Transplanting peonies is a dreaded job for some gardeners and that is understandable.
But sometimes it just needs to be done. The best time is the middle of September and it can be a daunting experience. One thing to remember is that you shouldn’t move all because sometimes it takes a year or more for the plant to bloom again after moving it.
Keep in mind that a peony must have full sun and can’t compete with roots from trees and shrubs.
Beautiful chrysanthemums are on sale everywhere. It seems that each year they get more and more beautiful. Remember that a chrysanthemum can be kept for blooming again next year. The thing you must do is to keep the rootball in the pot moist until after the blooms are faded. Then dig a hole for it in any flower bed and keep it watered for a few weeks. The leaves and stems will dry up and you can trim them off if you desire. When they first come up in early spring, divide them into several smaller plants and replant. Each little division will become a large blooming plant in fall if you pinch out the very tip of each stem after they get about 6 inches high. Do that every two weeks or so until the middle of July and then let them grow and bud for fall.
I am sorry to have disappointed some of you readers by missing last week’s paper. Just blame it on the computer. Also thanks to the kind reader from Harrodsburg who called to see if I was sick. It was very flattering.
Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions and/or suggestions. If you would like a copy of my book, please send a check for $13.50 to Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.