June 11, 2014
General Information: With immense billowy blossoms, hydrangeas flaunt an old-fashioned charm that is hard to resist. Colors also beguile with clear blues, vibrant pinks, frosty whites, lavender, and rose—sometimes all blooming on the same plant! The colors of some flowers are affected by the relative availability of aluminum ions in the soil. Acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers; soils with a pH greater than 5.5 product pink flowers. White flowers are not affected by pH.
Unrivaled in the shrub world, these elegant ladies are easy to cultivate, tolerate almost any soil, and produce flowers in mid-summer through fall (when little else may be in bloom). Hydrangeas are excellent for a range of garden sites from group plantings to shrub borders to containers.
- · Most hydrangeas thrive in rich, porous, somewhat moist soils. Add compost to enrich poor soil.
- · They prefer full sun in the morning, with some afternoon shade; however, many will grow and bloom in partial shade. This is especially true for the bigleaf hydrangeas (see Recommended Varieties below).
- Plant in spring or fall.
- · Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.
- · Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water. After water is drained, fill the rest of the hole with soil.
- · Water thoroughly.
- · Space multiple hydrangeas about 3 to 10 feet apart.
For the first year or two after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry. Don’t prune unless absolutely necessary, and then do so immediately AFTER blooming. Otherwise, remove only dead stems in the spring.
If you need to prune an older hydrangea, it depends on which variety you have. The common Bigleaf hydrangea should be pruned AFTER flowers fade (late spring/early summer). If you prune before bloom, you may not have blossoms the following spring. Oakleaf, panicle, and smooth hydrangeas blossom on the current seasons’ wood so they should be pruned BEFORE bloom when plant is dormant, i.e. late winter or early spring.
In the fall, cover plants to a depth of at least 18 inches with bark mulch, leaves, pine needles, or straw. If at all possible, cover the entire plant, tip included, by making cages out of snow fencing or chicken wire, and loosely filling the cages with leaves. (Do not use maple leaves.)
General Information: Petunias are one of the most popular type of annual. They are divided into two different groups: Grandiflora petunias have very large flowers and are best grown in containers or hanging baskets (because they are more susceptible to rain damage), and Multiflora petunias have smaller, but more abundant flowers and are ideal for summer bedding or in a mixed border (because they are more tolerant to wet weather).
- You can grow petunias from seeds, but it is easier to grow them from transplants. If you are going to grow from seeds, start them indoors 10 to 12 weeks before you want to set them outside. Petunia seeds are very small and needs lots of light in order to germinate. Remember to water them. When the plants have three leaves, you can plant them outside.
- It’s best to buy transplants and plant them in light, well-drained soil in full sun after the last spring frost. Petunias can grow in partial shade, but they will have fewer flowers. It’s better if the plants have shelter from the wind.
- Space the plants about 1 foot apart.
- If you’re planting petunias in containers, use a soil-less mix.
- Petunias are tolerant of heat so you don’t have to water them regularly. A thorough watering once a week should be sufficient (unless there are prolonged periods of drought in your area). The spreading types and those in containers require more frequent watering though.
- Fertilize your plants monthly to ensure good growth. Double-flowered cultivars like a biweekly dose of fertilizer.
- Remove faded/dead flowers to prolong blooming.
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