Growth rate-time

IRuehl(8b-9a, Savannah GA)March 16, 2011

I just planted my first Hydrangea (Nikko Blue) Its came in a one gallon, I planted it in a shady area that gets mostly deep shade, but the last 3 hours of sunlight a day will reach it. I was wondering how long until its full grown. How much do Nikko Blues take to reach the 6'X6' I have seen them at? Its about 15in now, starting to bud and get leaves. Sorry, but I am new to gardening! Thanks again!

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IRuehl(8b-9a, Savannah GA)

Oops, its in zone 8, Savannah Ga,

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 11:31PM
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Hello, IRuehl. The growth rate depends on such things as the length of your growing zone, soil nutrients and moisture, pruning, etc. A 1-g plant may become 3' over here in a few years (3 years maybe?). The size given in plant labels is a commercial term that means at 10 years of age so if you see a label advertising 4x4 then that is 4x4 at 10 years.

By the way, your shrub does not need to be fertilized this first year as the soil in your pot probably came with those round fertilizer pellets. You can start next year by using a general-purpose fertilizer like Osmocote (per label directions) or you can also use composted manure or about 1/2 cup of cottonseed meal. Apply it in May and July in the South and June in the northern half of the country.

You should also not need to prune the plant if it was planted in a location where it can reach 6x6 and not bother you or the other nearby plants.

Mulch it with 3-4" of mulch at all times to keep the soil evenly moist and water early in the mornings every time that a finger inserted to a depth of 4" feels almost dry or dry. About 1g oif water is probably right for a newly planted shrub. Keep an eye on wilting episodes starting at the end of May. If the wilting episode looks extreme compared to other ones then immediately water it (1/2 gallon say). Otherwise, wait until the next morning. If the shrub does not recover by the next morning and the soil feels dry then water it.

I wish I could tell you exactly when my "Nikko" reached that height but I am joking. Ha! I supposedly bought a Nikko Blue at Lowes and was shocked a year later when it bloomed a lacecap! Woops! Oh well. I kept it and still call it "my Nikko". Ha!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 6:45AM
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Maturity - reaching full size - for shrubs is dependant a lot on growing conditions as well as the size of the plant when planted, however a good rule of thumb is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 years of establishment in the ground to achieve full size. Obviously, larger, more mature plants initially will reduce that time.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 10:52AM
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IRuehl(8b-9a, Savannah GA)

ok, thanks, but I am still a little confused. I hear all this "Cut back to the ground" "Dyeing back to the ground" that mean if this happens it will grow back to full size in a season? Or is that starting over even if your plant has been in the ground a few years? LOL, Sorry guys, just one more Q, about how many inches a year do they typically grow?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:50AM
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You don't want to cut back your Nikko to the ground. This is a macrophylla that blooms on old (second season) growth, so hard pruning back to the ground will generally eliminate any flowering. In zone 8 you shouldn't have to worry about die back, either - that tends to be a concern more of colder climates.

So other than deadheading/removing old flowers or the occasional removal of any dead stems, this plant shouldn't require any pruning. How many inches it will grow in a single season is - as mentioned previously - dependant on growing conditions and soil quality, but you could expect an established shrub to put on around 8-10" in a season, perhaps more, until it reaches a mature size. 'Established' means it is a shrub that has settled into a planting location and has developed a healthy root system. And this takes a season or two to accomplish.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 11:16AM
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IRuehl(8b-9a, Savannah GA)

Oh thats good to know! The soils pretty good, dark, smells rich, then again I have mixed in some miracle grow soil in the bed with the existing. There was a huge azalea bush here in Feb, but I moved it. So I am guessing its good. I am happy no to cut it apart, the idea of it scared me, and hope it don't die off any as well :)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 1:32PM
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