Newbie Planting Mutiple H Shrubs

madakatude(Z6 NY)April 1, 2014

I have looked at the posting history and I can't find an exact answer for these types of hydrangeas. I planted them all in a pot temporarily and they sit in a very sunny window until it warms up a little and I can plant them outside for good. Here are the types I have:

Princess Beatrix, Forever Pink, Grandiflola, and All Summer Beauty Shrubs

(1) Can these go outside now. The temp is below freezing at night still.

(2)The Princess Beatrix (blue) need special soil to stay blue. How far away do they need to be planted from the others to avoid contaminating the soil for the rest. I want to get that bush look so I don't want them spaced to far apart.

(3) I've only seen that the blue need soil additives. Do any of the others I listed need anything special. And if so will that affect the others?

(4) Based on the way the look now...when would you think I would have a well stabled shrub? Next year, the year after? I know they look a little skimpy but Im taking good care of them.

Thanks Everyone...

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I think you might have that blueness thing a bit confused :-) 'Princess Beatrix' is considered a pink flowered hydrangea - 'All Summer Beauty' is most often considered a blue. How blue a hydrangea (and this really only applies to macrophyllas) will be is dependent on soil chemistry - pH and available aluminum. Dosing with aluminum sulphate at least annually is the usual practice. That encourages the proper soil acidity and provides aluminum. But don't overdo! Also, how 'blue' your hydrangea will become depends on variety and existing soil pH. If your soil is pretty basic (high pH), you are going to be struggling endlessly to create blue flowers. And some varieties are just not inclined to be very blue. And whites will always be white - no color change - although many will take on some pinkish hues as they fade.

Of your choices, all but grandiflora are big leaf hydrangeas (H. macrophylla). These may need some winter protection in your climate to ensure good blooming. Grandiflora is a panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata), aka 'PeeGee' - very hardy and blooms on new growth each season so cold snaps and pruning do not affect blooms. Also the most sun tolerant of the species.

These can be gradually acclimated to the outdoors and then planted. Be aware of any predicted cold snaps that could damage growth but I doubt you will see any flowers this season any way. Possible but not likely :-)

Establishment for any shrub takes 3-5 years, depending on size and type.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 3:19PM
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madakatude(Z6 NY)

Whew...I almost panicked after your response. Ihad to take inventory again. Looks like I forgot to mention Nikko Blue. These are the ones I plan to change the soil for. Whew!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:43PM
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vasue(7A Charlottesville)

(1) Can these go outside now? NO. They have tender new growth (green stems & leaves) that will not survive freezing or even chilly breezes. You need to "harden them off", as Gardengirl says, gradually getting them accustomed to the climate changes between their windowsill perch & the great outdoors. Wait for a warm day with no more than a light breeze to take them outside to a spot in the shade, leave them an hour & return them to their windowsill. Keep doing this daily, weather permitting, for slightly longer periods of time each day. Keep them out of sun & rain at this point, for a week or so. Gradually expose them to brighter outdoor light - dappled shade to morning sunlight - until your weather warms reliably. You'll see that new growth become darker green, expand & stand straight during this conditioning. (Looks like the plants away from the glass are "stretching" toward the outdoor light. Might turn the planters daily so the light reaches front & back of the plants evenly.) Be sure to put something around them to protect them from rabbits while outdoors & keep an eye on them.

(2) & (3) Special soil & soil additives? You first begin by knowing what the soil is like where you plan to plant. Is your soil naturally acidic or alkaline? As Gardengirl says, the pH of the soil you have, since the amount of aluminum available for the plant is determined by the pH of the soil in which it grows. There are a number of ways to determine that. A general rule of thumb is that soils on the acidic side of the pH scale promote blue flowers & those in the neutral to alkaline promote pink blooms. The type of soil you have matters here, too. Clay, loam, sandy, more - may need tweaking to give your plants the soil conditions they need to thrive. The answers to these questions come from what the soil is like now.

(2) Spacing? You need to research how large each plant is likely to grow - height & width - when mature in your area. You might ask about the experiences of others here on Gardenweb with each of the cultivars you have. Then you can decide whether you want the branches of each plant to overlap with the next plant or each bush stand somewhat apart. You need to know this for the health of each plant, too, so that one plant won't overpower another & all have room to grow well & become bushy.

(4) How long to maturity? While you're researching each plant, note their growth rate - slow, medium, fast. Given good soil preparation, good siting & good care, that's how quickly you might expect to see the result you want. Keep in mind your plants are babies - very fetching babies - and just starting out. Rather than planting them directly in the garden once they & the weather & the bed are ready, you might consider potting each one in gallon containers & growing them on a bit first. Mentioning where you garden & your zone will help you get more useful info.

You've chosen good plants & given them a loving start. Keep asking questions & learning what they need. Soon enough, you'll be answering newbie questions yourself!

Here is a link that might be useful: Some basics

This post was edited by vasue on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 18:30

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:02PM
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madakatude(Z6 NY)

Just wanted to show everyone what became of the pitiful plants shown in the original post. Not all of them made it. All the Blue's lived (compost and lime in the soil) those are the big leafed beauties. And the other (not sure what it is). They're dying back now that it's fall. I kept these in partial shade. Since this is the first winter what do I need to do to protect?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2014 at 6:43PM
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