Glowing Embers Hydrangea

nattycatMay 23, 2008

Could anyone tell me how to care for a glowing embers hydrangea that I just got from Lowes. It's in a pot on my mostly shaded patio. However, I live in Charleston, SC and it's already nearly 90 degrees. How often should I water it and what kind of fertilizer should I give it? Will it really have red blooms? Thanks!

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Water - if the soil feels dry or almost to a depth of 3-4 inches then water 1g of water. Mulch to maintain moisture in the soil. If you notice that you water every 3/4/5 days using this approach, set your sprinkler to water 1g of water on the same frequency. If your soil is sandy, increase the amount of water by 30-50%. When temperatures change 10-15 degrees and stay there, re-check using this method and take appropriate action by either watering more often, increasing the amount of water or both.

Wilting - on its first year, hydrangeas will often wilt as temperatures rise. Their large leaves make the plant loose water moisture faster than they can absorb through the roots. It is common in all large leaved shrubs. But at first, it shocks you. Established plants (1 year or older) can handle this better but even they will suffer sometimes during summer. In the mean time, if you see extreme wilting, water immediately. Otherwise wait until next morning. By next morning, most hydrangeas will recover. If not recovered by then, add 1/2 gallon of water.

Hint: always water the soil and not the leaves. Also, water early in the mornings. You can water the leaves if the water had liquid seaweed as it can be absorbed through the leaves too. Since the plant does not have an extensive root system yet, water near the base of the plant. Keep an eye on soil moisture during the first year!

Plant in well draining acidic soil where it gets morning sun until 12pm or earlier. If your soil is not acidic, add lots of organic compost when planting and annually ammend with garden sulphur and-or aluminum sulfate. Fertilize in May & July with 1/2 to 1 cup of manure or cottonseed meal. Skip feeding the first year if you wish since the plant has been fertilized by the nursery in its pot already. Apply weak fertilizers like liquid seaweed, liquid fish and coffee grounds until August.

In August, stop all forms of fertilizing so the plant can prepare for winter. In those rare years when you have to prune, do so after blooming but before the start of August. That is the approximate time when GE will begin developing flower buds for next Spring.

Glowing Embers resists turning blue so it will have a shade of pink blooms in alkaline soils and purple-ish in acidic soils.

Good luck with your Glowing Embers, nattycat.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 4:43PM
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So, there's nothing that I can do to make it red? What exactly is an alkaline fertlizer to keep it pink? I have Miracle Grow, Miracle Grow for Acid Loving plants and some Osmocote. Is there a simple solution that I can use to get the closest to red or at least a hot pink, maybe? I don't know anything about fertilizers beyond Miracle Grow. When you mention sulphur and the aluminum stuff, I have no idea what that is (chemistry was not my strong suit in school). So, if you could suggest a specic product, that woud be great. We want the plant red if we can get it. I was hoping that since it's in a pot we could achieve this. I hope we weren't duped by marketing! There are no blooms yet, but I know enough to know that they are coming... Thanks so much for your help, Luis! Nattycat :)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 11:01PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

How to proceed requires that you first determine whether your soil is acidic or alkaline. Alkaline soil is the chemical opposite of acidic soil.

You will need to add either lime or aluminum sulfate, products available in bags at most local nurseries (not HD or Lowes). A common brand name here is Hi-Yield.

Your goal should be to have soil that is just a little acidic. Which product to use (lime versus a/s) depends on how acidic or alkaline your potting soil is. There are kits sold at plant nurseries that try to tell you this information; you can buy a few. If acidic, add lime. If alkaline, add a/s. You can also approximate by the color of the blooms: if blue/purple, the soil is acidic so add lime; if pink, the soil is alkaline so add a/s. Re-apply if the colors are not the right hue that you are looking for but, do not go overboard with these two ammendments. Apply them per label directions and label amounts.

Miracle Grow for Acid Loving Plants can make control of the acidity/alkalinity harder so do not use it. Miracle Grow or Osmocote are preferable as they will not alter the soil pH as much as the Acid version.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hi-yield Ammendments

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 7:14PM
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we planted some 'glowing embers' last April, and they did quite well last year. This year, however, they have barely started to green up. Would anyone know if this is normal? Should they still flower?

We had a late freeze this year ~ mid April. Although they were covered, they still died back.

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 8:12PM
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I have a glowing ember that I have in a pot on my patio. The blooms were pink and then I eventually put in a bigger pot with Miracle Grow potting soil and more soil from ground around my apartment. Most of the blooms are either brown and crunchy and the others that look healthy are mostly green. I was wondering if I should deadhead and cut off the ones that are brown ?
Am I just needing to water more as well? It has been in the upper 80's and 90's and I am wondering if I should add more acid to the soil ? I have the regular Miracle Grow powder feed and I have seen that coffee grounds can be added ?
Please help I paid a lot for this plant that I hope I can winter over at my parents house otherwise I have lost $ 50

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 9:28PM
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Hi Amy in Indiana,
The brown and crunchy ones, I'm assuming that they did bloom previously and they have just died after blooming? Hydrangeas planted in pots need extra care, in my opinion, more water, probably everyday, and less food. I would cut the crunchy blooms off. If you add more acid to the soil, they will turn towards purple or magenta, to keep them pink I would add some lime.

Last year we bought a Venice and kept it in a large clay pot sitting in a whisky barrel for the entire summer only putting it in the ground in fall and it had to be watered every single day! It did beautifully and is growing great this year in the ground, the point I'm trying to make is that plants in pots dry out much faster than in the ground, especially if in the sun. We have 2 Glowing Ember plants and even with the addition of lime this year one bloomed magenta, and the second one is pink, just a few feet away! Go figure!

If your plant is in a black plastic pot, the roots will heat up much more than in a clay pot, hopefully if you're using plastic it is a terra-cotta colored one, but clay pots dry out faster but the roots get some air and they can breath I'm thinking that might be better, but I'm not an expert, just going by experience!! Good Luck!


    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 10:53AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

The browned out blooms suggest a moisture issue that could be aggravated by too much sun and-or too much wind. To minimize moisture issues, you need to monitor the soil more carefully bcecause, as Donna said, potted plants do need water more frequently. If your plant already came with those round fertilizer pellets, keep that in mind when applying more fertilizer. Also, make sure that the pot has holes in the bottom for good drainage.

To determine if you need to water, use the finger method. Insert a finger into the potting soil to a depth of 3-4" and add water if it feels almost dry or dry. Add as much mulch as you can (2-4 inches for example) and move plastic pots to the shade in order to lengthen the time between waterings and prevent the roots from cooking.

Enjoy your hydrangea. I have a Glowing Embers too.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 3:59PM
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Thanks Donna and Luis,

I had a lot of large beautiful pink blooms when I first bought it and they did ok for awhile. The plant went a few weeks in the container I brought it home in before I could get a larger pot to plant it in.
My plant in in a large green plastic container, I had to drill 5 holes in the bottom for drainage and I think I also put some rocks in the bottom of the pot.
Even though it has been raining alot here I probably should be watering everyday as it has also been very hot and humid. I added some coffee grounds and a bit of coffee to the plant.
Do the local nuserys have lime ?
I meant to get some more mulch or potting soil today, but havent been able to.
THanks !

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 11:13PM
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I have two GE in small pots that I bought about a year ago. They are on an east facing wall of a house, and get some shade and some light, but never direct sun or deep shade from a tree.

They bloomed once since I got them, but they have non gron much at all. They are just a bit bigger than a year ago.

I have checked the bottom of the pot but the roots are not coming out, I water them every other day or so, except during winter when it rains for two months non-stop. I have not added any plant food yet but heard that the organic manure might help. I have not trim them because there is not much to trim. They basically have two stems each that are about 9"-12" tall, with few green healthy looking leaves on them.

Besides manure, is the anything else that I can do to help them grow bigger and stronger?


    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 6:07PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Mine has not been a fast grower either and it is planted in teh ground. If you have them in pots, you will have to keep providing a good & frequent supply of food since a lot of what you give them will end up going down the holes at the bottom of the pots. Check the levels of phosphates, pottasium and nitrogen somewhat more regularly than if the plant were in the ground. And choose a fertilizer that will be able to supply trace minerals as well. Composted manure, cottonseed meal or Holly Tone/Osmocote would all work well (Osmocote is kind of expensive though).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 8:40PM
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