Vanilla Strawberry Hydgrangea questions!

lily55rjw(5 Northern Michigan)June 12, 2012

I won 3 Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas in a photo contest and they are being shipped to me in gallon pots. They are suppose to be at least 2 year old plants. So I have a few questions...

1. Is it possible to grow these, at least for another year - possible two, in very large pots outside on my porch?

2. I have failed at hydrangeas in the past, if I can put these in pots for the time being, what do you all recommend I fill the pot with? Any certain type of soil? peat?

3. What are your thoughts on fertilizing? I have read that you shouldn't fertilize the first year and that you should. This seems to be a touchy/iffy subject...

4. What fertilizers have you had great success with?

5. And, do they need protection in the winter, if so, what if I move them into my garage where it will be about 50 to 60 degrees...?

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Yes, they can be grown quite easily in containers. You want to fill the containers with a potting soil, often called a soil-less mix. Container plants require the fast drainage and good aeration that only a proper potting/container soil will provide. Any plant grown in a container will require routine fertilization. Every time you water, you leach nutrients out of the soil and these must be replaced - there is nowhere else for them to obtain them. You can use a liquid fertilizer every other week through the growing season or a one-time dose of a slow release, like Osmocote.

If your soil freezes solid, which I'd expect in zone 5, then yes, you will need winter protection. The plants are hardy, but the roots in an exposed position like an above ground planter are not. Move into a garage or basement or heel into soil or mulch to cover the container. You don't want much heat but you don't want below freezing temperatures either. Just at or above freezing is ideal.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:08PM
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lily55rjw(5 Northern Michigan)

Thank you so much!!! So would miracle grow potting soil be fine or should I go somewhere to find one that says soiless mix on the bag? I may have to travel about 40 miles'ish to find "soiless" mix...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:41PM
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MiracleGro is never my first choice for potting soil - too fine a particle size and too water retentive a mix. If you can't obtain any other potting soil (pretty much ALL of them are soil-less mixes), you can lighten and texture it up by adding perlite and small (ie. fine) bark chunks. Trees and shrubs benefit from a very textural, barky potting mix.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:51PM
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Curios how big a "very large pot" is.

Very large pots with plant material much hardier than the zone it is in may be able to stay outside. It is done even in MN.

We overwinter our Paniculata hydrangeas in the greenhouse at 25 degrees, so yes, the roots can go below freezing.

50 to 60 degrees is too warm to overwinter. Probably best to heel them in a protected location somewhere in the yard.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:32PM
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If you plan on planting them at your location you are in now in a year or two. I would just put them in the ground. I would think it will be more risky in pots and work. They will mature faster in the ground and I think you will be pleased. VS seems to be very hardy so far. I put mine in the ground it is growing great! Congrats on winning them!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:33PM
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