Thursday, November 08, 2012

Fall Hydrangeas

Thursday, November 8, 2012 

24.3° here on the mountain with a slight wind that whispers from 3 to 5 mph and back again. It's not as cold as the 15° we felt last night nor the 18° that was predicted for this morning but failed to occur. Karl the Wonder Dog and I hiked up to the old wolf tree this morning looking for wild critters but our time out was critterless. Just the same it was a nice walk and I spotted a maple that was lined with oyster mushrooms that I need to go back and pick soon.

I have been meaning to comment on hydrangeas in Vermont and similar zone 3 and 4 climates. This is a shrub that is growing in popularity and one which has been a good seller at the flower farm. It has also created somewhat of a hassle because many people see the pink and the blue hydrangeas advertised and that's what they are possessed to grow. Most folks don't care what the name of a plant is, they just see the color and visualize it growing in their gardens. Trouble with the pinks and blues in this climate, they are not dependable and I refuse to carry them.

We grow many of the paniculata types and I think Tardiva is actually my favorite because of the shrub and bloom shape. I especially favor one named 'White Moth'. Regardless of the variety, by this time of year the blooms are long past spent and have turned rusty brown and beg to be removed. That's where I need to insert a thought. Many hydrangeas bloom on new wood so cutting back hydrangeas this late in the season can have a negative impact on next summer's blooms. The problem is that cutting spent blooms in late fall leaves the stem cuts to feel the drying winds of late fall and early winter. That affords the potential that the bud material for next year will dehydrate. That translates to fewer blooms on a shrub that you are expecting to display a bounty of blooms from summer through fall. It's better to either wait until spring or do the trimming while it is still warm as soon as the flowers have faded and begun to rust. I had a lady tell me that she never trimmed anything and implied that I didn't know what I was talking about so make your own decision on pruning and my information. I always try to share experiences. What is your experience with your hydrangeas? If you comment, please include your zone.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where rifle deer season starts this Saturday and hunters have begun to scout the area. We have been wearing orange in the woods for a month now to insure that others see us. Not a bad idea!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

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