Heavenly Hydrangeas

As summer marches into August and we look ahead to autumn, the hydrangeas here in the metro DC area are losing their pretty summer blue, purple, pink and white colors. But thankfully for us, they fade into fabulous shades of greens and antique pinks – a pleasing pallete for fall. This season is also the time for the following activities in the hydrangea bed.

Drying Hydrangeas
This time of year is prime time to snip blooms to dry for year-round enjoyment. Cut stems with a pair of sharp floral scissors at a good angle. There are two methods to dry hydrangeas effectively. One is to place cut flowers in water and let the water evaporate naturally over time – the flowers will happily dry and retain their shape and color. Or hang the stems upside down in a cool, dark room and allow to dry. Both methods work well. The papery petals will retain their color and form for at least a year, if not more, when placed out of direct sunlight and heat.

Prepare for Winter
Make sure your bushes have had a good drink prior to the winter freeze. Water via soaker hose, if you do not have an irrigation system. Depending on rainfall in your neck of the woods, you will probably want to give your plants a good drink about two times per week in dry spells. If it rains often, you will not need to do this.

If you have not fertilized during the spring or summer, now is a good time to give your bushes some added nutrition. An all-purpose fertilizer such as Miracle Grow or Hollytone, work well. Follow instructions on the box/bag, and do not over fertilize or you will see a very leafy plant with no flowers.

Last but not least, do not over prune hydrangea bushes. Most hydrangeas bloom next year on old growth. If you cut back too many branches, you will eliminate the structure on which next year’s flowers bloom. Improper hydrangea pruning is the most common cause of few flowers next season. When in doubt, do not prune at all.

Happy gardening!
Thanks to Susan Poneman at Heavenly Hydrangeas for these tips!
www.heavenlyhydrangeas.com

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