hydrangea ? in NC

purplefirefly(z7 NC)January 11, 2006

No one is talking or answering messages in the hydrangea forum, so i thought it might go better asking this here. I am wanting to plant hydrangeas along the front of my house, but the kind I like are lacecaps. Will these lose all their leaves and just be bare stems all winter? I know the oakleafs turn colors, but from what I have found so far the others just drop their leaves...is this correct?

I am going on what I have read online, pictures from and messages from the hydrangea forum, and my own experience with one hydrangea I bought last year (which did drop all it's leaves and is quite ugly looking htis winter).

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Yep, no leaves. I cut mine back and pile leaves and mulch on foot or so left, so it's piles of mulch rather than bare branches. If yopu go to the Raleigh swap in April, I usually have mophead and lacecap rooted cuttings to share.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 7:40PM
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purplefirefly(z7 NC)

If you cut them back aren't you taking away from the next years blooms? Do they grow back to full size every year when you do that?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 9:39PM
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Well, I know some mopheads and lacecaps are supposed to flower on last year's growth, but I do get 2 flushes of flowers, once on low pruned growth in spring, then again in fall on huge bushes that grow back to 5' X 5' every year. Maybe because of our long growing season? Maybe the 'Niko' ans variegated lacecap 'Maculata' that I have? I honestly do not know. They've done it 5 years, and the one year I did not cut them back, the stems died back and I had to cut them in spring anyway.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 6:02AM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

Some of mine will not bloom on new growth so I have to take my chances with those. But they are in my back yard which is a little more protected. I think it may depend a lot on the variety. Several of my hydrangeas are already showing leaf buds. That has me a little concerned. I was wondering if I should cut them back halfway and try to pile leaves on them to help protect them. -Ais.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 8:21AM
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purplefirefly(z7 NC)

Mine will be along the front of my house, which is very protected under 4 large trees. My "experimental" hydrangea last year surprised me. It was a very tiny seedling from Park's, and grew over a foot and bloomed, which I didn't expect. It was trampled by our puppy and one branch snapped almost all the way in half. I put it in a large pot, put soil up tight to hold that branch together and erect...and that is the branch that bloomed! I ordered a lacecap, but they sent me something different so I don't know which it actually is, but it did well and is still alive in it's pot (though bare).

The new ones will be Lanarth White, jogasaki, and Shichidanka. If I can find a Big Smile I would replace that last one. That's if I have to order, I will be looking locally first.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 9:14AM
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Claire Pickett

Purplefirefly, your question is THE burning question about blue/pink hydrangeas. Would that it had a very simple answer! You are right. Mopheads and lacecaps are both macrophylla hydrangeas, which bloom on old wood unless they are the new cultivars like "Endless Summer" and "Forever Pink,"etc., which have been hybridized to bloom on new AND old.

However, more often than not,none of the above seem to perform exactly according to textbook (e.g. Brenda's old beauties that she lops). Many gardeners cover their non-ES's to prevent our early spring (and winter!) cycles of very warm budding weather followed by cold snaps that kill the buds on the old wood. Others, who are fabulously successful, do NOTHING.

Mac hydrangeas are a passion of mine... have failed miserably with them, but not giving up. Currently I have my macrophyllas covered in leaf cages...and if they fail to bloom this year, I'm moving them to AM sun only, which seems to be the exposure that is successful in the hot South. My one ES put out one bloom, at the End of the Summer...must by dyslexic.

All this said, good luck, and let us know what you decide to do.

claire in sanford

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 9:27AM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

My ES put out several blooms last year. Not tons but it's only 2 yrs old. It only put out one flush of blooms, but they lasted forever and even when they "died" they were a pretty pink color. Last year was hard on my hydrangeas because it got so warm early and then froze up again, so I was happy with what I got. I think when it gets bigger it will really please me. I have a variegated lacecap that has bloomed ONCE in 6 yrs. I intended to move it but never did so I will be piling leaves on it today to try and get blooms. 'Taube' which is a pink lacecap didn't bloom. 'Blue wave' (blue lace) didn't die completely and bloomed but it looked scraggly. 'Nikko' (blue mophead) is still very small, but it actually bloomed. Last year I didn't protect them, but this year I am considering piling leaves up. Hopefully it's not too late. -Ais.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 9:40AM
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chapelhillgardener(7a NC OrangeCo)

i've never protected my hydrangeas over the winter ... in the spring, when they're really budding & leafing-out, i will cover them if a freeze is predicted. and i've never done any cutting-back except for the removal of old unproductive wood in the spring. following pup's example this fall, however, i did encircle a new macrophylla (mariesii variegata) with wire and fill it with leaves - as an experiment to see if this protection results in more blooms. so far, the unprotected & protected plants appear to be at the same stage of leaf-bud development. it's been my experience that freezing temps have had no effect on these early leaf-buds - it does effect them when green is visible, that's why i do my protective cover thing with the occasional spring freeze.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 10:17AM
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Homewood Nursery has the best selection of hydrangeas in the Triangle -- located in North Raleigh on Honeycutt. If you can't find what you are looking for there go mail order to Wilkerson Mill Gardens near Atlanta. Our lacecaps rarely get hurt by cold but have been disappointed by the damage late freezes have done to our mopheads. We prune about a third of the plant out, to about 2 inches from the base going after old wood soon after they bloom. This is the recommended practice from Penny McHenry, founder of the American Hydrangea Society. See Michael Dirr's new Hydrangea Book for the best info on growing and caring for hydrangeas and his picks for the best varieties. Don't give these too much shade, or you will have poor bloom production. We have over 65 varieties and like Oakleafs, Annabelles, and Limelight the best.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 11:22PM
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