Friday, January 18, 2019

Hydrangea care and pruning. A Mystery Solved


Hydrangeas have been a southern landscape staple for generations. With their beautiful iconic blooms and wide assortment of shapes and colors, they have been a long time favorite from zone 5 to 9. Some varieties are seen as far north as zone 3.

If you are like so many proud hydrangea owners, you spend your fall and winter wondering what to do with the leftover stalks. Should you cut them back? Should you leave them standing? Well I would love to tell you the answer is the same across the board. However, it is not. What you do with the barren wood truly depends on the type of hydrangea you have. So the first step to answering this age old question is to identify your hydrangea. 

Smooth hydrangeas

 Also known as wild hydrangeas, they are native to the United States. It is a large shrub, growing up to 6 feet tall. Most people will plant this as a hedge plant. Its scientific name, Hydrangea arborescens, comes from the word "arbor" meaning tree, because of its branching habits and size. Their bloom time is between June and September. Their blooms are typically white, with a round shape, and smaller than the big leaf varieties, which we will delve into next.
"Annabelle" is the most common of the smooth hydrangeas. Its blooms look like large snowballs and can grow to be twelve inches in diameter.
These beauties should be pruned back in the late winter or early spring. They will bloom on new wood, meaning, the current season's growth. Pruning them at this time encourages new growth and will result in a fuller and stronger plant, so that flopping does not become a problem.

Bigleaf hydrangea

 Hydrangea macrophylla are more commonly known as florist's hydrangea, garden hydrangea and french hydrangea.

There are three main types of big leaf hydrangea.

1. Mophead hydrangea.

 These are the most recognizable and popular hydrangeas because of their large flower head and their vibrant colors of blue, pink, and purple. This type of hydrangea is hardy in zone 7, but may not survive the freezing temperatures in zones 6 or above. However, they can be sensitive to the heat as well, so they seem to thrive in areas of partial shade. Some of them only bloom on the previous season's growth and other newer ones bloom on the previous seasons growth and new growth and are called rebloomers.

2. Lacecap hydrangeas 

These are very similar to the mophead variety, with the main difference being in the flower itself. They have tiny fertile flower buds in the center with flowers that circle the edge of the flower. These flowers are sterile and their only purpose is to attract pollinators to the fertile buds. Like the mophead, they thrive in partial shade.

3. Mountain hydrangea

These are the least common of the big leaf hydrangeas. It looks similar to the lacecap, but has much smaller flowers and leaves. These are hardy in zone 5, making them a better choice for areas prone to late winter cold snaps. The TUFF STUFF series not only offers cold hardiness, but it has added reblooming to its beauty.

The mountain hydrangea are native to the mountainous areas of Asia and Japan where they are exposed to harsher conditions. Therefore, they are one of the hardier varieties and a solid choice if you live in an area where the winters are a little rough. 


Panicle hydrangea

Panicle hydrangea have elongated flower heads . The cone shaped panicles can range from six to eighteen inches long. Of all the hydrangea varieties the panicle hydrangeas are the most cold hardy and thrive in zones 4 to 7. They are one of the few that can thrive in full sun. They usually flower from mid to late summer and their blooms are very long lasting. These blooms are a great choice for drying or to use in cut arrangements.
It is best to prune these hydrangeas back to 1 to 3 feet tall, though you can cut them to the ground. If you leave a bit of the old wood, it can help to support the new growth and keep it from flopping as much. This should be done in late winter to early spring.

Oakleaf hydrangea

   This hydrangea gets its name for obvious reasons, as its foliage is shaped like an oak leaf. Its scientific name, Hydrangea quercifolia,  literally translates to hydrangea oakleaf. Not only do the leaves bear resemblance to the oak tree, but they also change color in the fall, making it one of the most attractive choices for your landscape. The oakleaf hydrangea is one of the few hydrangeas that is native to the United States. It has white cone shaped flower heads that turn to a beautiful shade of pink into the fall.
These hydrangeas only require a light trim if anything,  in the late fall or early winter after the flowers are gone but before new buds set. If you trim too late you risk cutting off blooms for the next growing season, as they begin to set blooms for the next bloom cycle almost as soon as the current bloom cycle ends.

Climbing hydrangeas

   This hydrangea is exactly as the name suggests. It is a vine. It is a very slow grower and may take a long time to see it to its full potential. It has flowers that resemble those of the lacecap hydrangea and they are fragrant. Their blooms usually appear in mid to late summer. This variety prefers full to partial sun but will not tolerate full shade. This vine only needs a light trimming in the late summer or early fall when it has finished blooming.  You may trim at leaf nodes to encourage the vine to fill out. or make cuts to remove dead or damaged branches.


   It is best to fertilize with organic matter but if you need to apply chemical fertilizer Osmocote is a great choice.
If you are trying to improve the color of your hydrangea you may add aluminum sulfate, composted oak leaves, pine needles or coffee grounds to alkaline soil to get bluer blooms. To encourage pink blooms in acidic soil, add wood ashes or lime to the soil. March through July are the best times to fertilize your hydrangeas, but only do so lightly, as too much or too often can scorch your plants.

Below are some tools that we hope you will find helpful.

Go to the Proven Winner link for more information on Hydrangea care :

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

WELCOME! Come on in and have a look around.

We will be adding and linking content for information and learning.
If you see something with
somewhere within or after text in an e-mail or on a Facebook post
just click and you will be taken to the information your looking for.
As the new year makes its appearance, we hope to be able to make some subtle changes to benefit you, and help you in any gardening or landscaping endeavor you take on. 

Thank you for visiting us and we look forward to seeing you again soon.


This year's winner of the 2018 poinsettia trials is (drum roll) PRINCETTIA WHITE! This beauty is the whitest of them all. It has no yellow tint and stands out among its peers. It quickly became a huge favorite with our customers.
The following is a final tally of the ranking winners 1 thru 5 in each category and the top 3 overall.



Thank you for another great year.
We look forward to stepping into the new year with you!


   We have all heard the name Ginkgo biloba. Few have really stopped to think about exactly what it is. The ginkgo is a deciduous conifer or the more scientific term,  a true gymnosperm. They can grow to heights that may exceed 100 ft., but they are slow growers. It is a tree that is native to the Asian continent and widely grown all over the world. However, its natural numbers are still quite small, therefore leading it to be considered endangered. The number of ginkgoes occurring in nature are small, due mainly to the fact that it takes a male and female tree to produce fertile seeds or fruits. The female trees will drop their seeds after being fertilized by pollen from the male through normal means of pollination. Most people who seek to purchase a ginkgo for their personal horticultural compilations will only plant male trees as the female trees give off a rancid odor when they drop their fruit. 
   The ginkgo is one of the oldest living plants known to man. The earliest leaf fossils date back to two hundred seventy million years ago in the Permian period. The Ginkgo biloba is the only surviving member of the Ginkgoales family, with the other eighteen members of this family falling into extinction. It is believed that the decline of the dinosaurs may have been a factor in the extinction of many of these members as they were considered to be the seed distributors of the time. It is unclear how or exactly why this lone survivor has made it through to modern day without alteration.
   Our more recent history speaks to the survival ability of this ancient tree. On August 6, 1945 life in Hiroshima was forever changed by a nuclear bomb. One hundred fifty thousand people lost their lives and the biological and man-made landscape was leveled, but somehow there were six lone survivors. Six Ginkgo biloba trees that stood outside Anraku-ji temple. These six trees did not falter even in one of the most destructive events in human history. Now, some seventy three years later, the trees still stand, growing through the ruins of the temple.
   Through the years, ginkgoes have been able to resist disease and insects. This has insured their survival, but without proper pollination and seed disbursement, they will not see population growth. Because of the negative hype associated with the rancid smell of the female trees there has been very little effort to bolster the conservation of these trees.


   Aside from the fact that a ginkgo has a most impressive history, these trees are  beautiful and visually interesting. In a landscape of maples, oaks, birches and conifers of every shape and size, these trees stand out in the crowd. From the fan shaped leaves to their stunning fall show. they are in no way an average player.
Their branches grow in irregular ways to give personality to its bare bones and as the leaves change to a bright shade of saffron yellow they shine in a backdrop of oranges, reds, and browns.
   Most deciduous trees (trees that shed their leaves) will do so in stages. As the tree prepares its foliage in stages or layers, each leaf develops a coating and then is released from the tree as the frosty nights begin. When one layer is shed the next will develop the coating and be released. Therefore it takes many days and sometimes weeks to lose its leaves completely. In the case of the ginkgo, it is quite a different story. The ginkgo will coat all of its leaves at one time in preparation for the first frost of fall. As day breaks after the first frost, it will begin to release its leaves in a slow continual shower of yellow throughout the day. By nightfall almost all of the leaves will be gone.
   So, now that you are intrigued by its history, fascinated by its strength and determination to survive, and maybe even enamored by its beauty and personality, let's talk about what you should do after you purchase one.The ginkgo will thrive in well drained and slightly acidic soil. While they will grow in almost any soil, it helps to amend the soil with compost for good drainage in the heavy clay soil of out area. You will need to loosen the root ball just a bit with your fingers to loosen the tight weave  that comes from being potted. Always plant the root ball slightly above the soil so that when it settles into its new home, the top of the root ball won't be below the soil level.
   IMPORTANT!!!! Keep in mind that these trees grow very tall so do not plant them near any power lines or if you live in an urban area there may be restrictions on height and width of trees or structures. It is always, always, always, in your best interest to call 811 before you dig for any reason.

ENJOY your Ginkgo!