If you have H. arborescens (Annabelle types) and H. paniculata (PeeGee types) hydrangeas, they bloom on new wood (new stems). The only time they cannot be pruned is in the spring (Annabelle) or in the summer (PG) when they are preparing to bloom.
Some popular lacecaps include: "Bluebird" (blue blooms) and "Tokyo Delight" (pale-blue or pink flowers that fade to nearly white), "Coerulea" (light blue) "Lilacina" (purple/blue/pink). "Lanarth White" is a dependable white-flowering lacecap.
Removing old blooms
Removing old blooms on a plant is called "deadheading." Remove old blooms at any time of the year without harming the bloom for the following year.
When you cut blooms for arrangements in June or July, you can cut them with long stems because the bloom buds haven't set for the following year. When you cut the blooms after the first of August, it would be safest to remove them with very short stems so you won't disturb any developing bloom buds for next year. As long as you cut above the first set of large leaves, you will be fine.
Placement key to flowering
Cold winter temperatures can often kill off flower buds. This problem can be addressed by planting bigleaf hydrangeas on north- or east-facing slopes rather than toward the south or west, which are the first areas to warm up in late winter, triggering buds to open too early. Choosing cold-hardy varieties and placing plants under a canopy of evergreen trees can help to avoid winter kill. Some people apply a temporary deep layer of winter mulch to protect lower buds from cold temperatures. In regions with variable winter temperatures, protection may provide only limited help. During brief late-winter warm spells, when the flower buds are triggered to break dormancy, they are then often killed by returning cold temperatures.
Planting hydrangeas in early spring or in the fall is ideal. When you are planting a hydrangea, remember that the blooms and stems must be protected from strong winds and the hot afternoon sun. Avoid planting in open areas where strong winds could break stems. Planting on the eastern side of a building ensures that in the afternoon, when the sun is at its hottest, your plants are in the shade.
Get the color you want
The flower color of a bigleaf hydrangea is determined by the soil pH and by the amount of aluminum in the soil (unless it is a white-flowering variety, which has no pigment and is not affected). Hydrangeas can readily absorb aluminum only when the soil pH is low. Hence, the more aluminum in the soil and the lower the pH (acidic), the bluer the flowers will be. The less aluminum in the soil and the higher the pH (alkaline), the pinker the flowers will be.
Let your plant be your guide. Allow your plant to grow in the ground for a year, then through one flower cycle. If your flowers are blue, you have aluminum present in your acid soil. If your flowers are pink, you either have no aluminum or the pH is alkaline. To get the color you want, you can simply have your soil pH tested and amend it accordingly in early spring.
There will be a guided walk of the Sunrise Carriage Trail at 10 a.m. April 17. Meet at the upper entrance to the trail, near the old Sunrise museum. Wear comfortable shoes, bring water, and allow an hour for the walk. Plan on a walk back up the trail, or carpool with a friend and leave a car at the bottom.
Trail expert Joan Steven says the wildflowers are changing almost daily, with new ones popping up all the time. It's a great time for a walk.
Other upcoming walks include a Wildflower Walk 8:30 a.m. April 10 at East Lynn Lake State Park, sponsored by the Tri-State Chapter of the West Virginia Native Plant Society. Meet at the marina; boat rides will take those interested across the lake to see filmy ferns. Free and open to the public.
The Osbra Eye Memorial Wildflower Walk will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 24 at Kanawha State Forest. Led by naturalists, Native Plant Society members and Master Gardeners, registration is 9 to 9:30 a.m. at the pool area. Price is $5. Call Shirley Schweizer, 304-925-2771.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.