Saturday, August 27, 2011

Changing Hydrangea

Changing Hydrangea
Try saying that 3 times fast!  This is one of the Endless Summer hydrangeas that I bought about 3 years ago.  It bloomed so well this season and I even cut a bunch of blooms earlier in the summer to put in the house.  At that time of year, they were pink.  But as summer wanes, the blooms start to change.  They take on a sort of dried look and I think it adds some interest to a late season garden. 

As I mentioned, the blooms were pink.  I tried to change the color to blue by acidifying the soil using a garden sulfur product by Espoma (it can be found in any big box store or garden center).  I think I did not apply enough or with enough frequency.  I think maybe the latter because I water every day so anything in the soil washes out fairly quickly.  I'll try again next year.

On to the subject of pruning.  Here's what I do:  Nothing.  Endless Summer blooms on old wood and on new wood.  Old wood refers to the stems that have been on the plant since last summer.  New wood refers to the stems that developed this season and that continue to produce buds through the fall.  If you cut back those, you know what happens.  No buds this year equals no flowers next year.  So why cut back any of it?  The only stems you really need to trim are any dead ones.

Finally, fertilizers.  I only use a slow release fertilizer at the beginning of the season.  If you fertilize too much, you'll get lots of pretty foliage but few blooms.  So as far as fertilizers go, less is more.

Hydrangeas make a great container plant.  You just need to make sure you have a large enough pot because it will definitely multiply in size every year.  

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Name of the Rose

Mini rose
Actually, I wish I did know this rose's name, but I don't.  I bought it last year at our local big box store.  As is sometimes the case, it had a plant tag with very sketchy information.  I didn't keep the tag but if I remember correctly, it read something like, "Mini-rose, plant in full sun."  It overwintered just fine and has bloomed sporadically all season long.  It also seems to get along well with others because I have it in a container with Gaura and Ajuga.  It's been a nice addition to my garden, but it will remain nameless.

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books

Saturday, August 13, 2011

All That Remains

Black-eyed Susan

Close up
All that remains of my beautiful Black-eyed Susan plant is a bunch of stems topped with petal-less seed heads.  I can't even bear to show you.  This is what happened:  The finches arrived.  They're pretty and fun to watch but they totally destroyed my flowers.  They arrived at the buffet and did not leave until they had littered my deck with the yellow petals from my flowers and plucked out all of the seeds from the center of the bloom.  But Susan is a survivor, so she'll return next year, and I'm sure the cycle will start all over again.

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pretty Plumes

I like having plants with interesting blooms in my container garden.  Here's one:  Astilbe.  It has feathery plume-like flowers and they bloom on an upright growing plant.  There are different varieties so you can find some that grow only a foot high and others that grow as tall as 4 or 5 feet.  I don't know the name of this particular astible because it was given to me by another gardener who was dividing her perennials a couple of years ago.  This plant adapted quickly to its container and bloomed the first season that I had it.

Astilbe is a perennial that is hardy to zone 4.  It can tolerate full sun, but it's best to give it a little shade, otherwise you risk scorching the leaves.  This plant bloomed for me in June.  I bring it to your attention now because soon, the garden centers and big box stores put their perennials on sale.  That's a good time to buy some new plants.  Don't be afraid of the ones that look a little unloved.  They often bounce back in time.

You can go ahead and plant perennials in your containers and they should survive the winter if they are suitable for your hardiness zone.  But remember, my rule of thumb is that for containers, subtract 2 from your region's planting zone.  This is because when a plant is in a container, it is more exposed to the elements than when it is in the ground.  Where I am in Northern Virginia, my hardiness zone is 7.  So I look for perennials with a hardiness zone of 5 (or lower).  Also, make sure you don't plant in too small a container.  The more insulated a plant is by soil, the better chance it will have of surviving.

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books