Help My Hydrangea

Q: I moved into a house with an established garden. It has plants and flowers that I have always wanted; hydrangea, lavender, roses, lemon trees, orange trees, etc. Unfortunately, the hydrangea and roses have not been cared for. The hydrangea has very little leaves and flowers. In the middle it has branches that look dead.

I have removed most of the dead branches which pulled out effortlessly, but now the plant has a gap on the inside and the sides are leaning apart from each other. It looks hideous and I don't know what to do. I spoke to the neighbor , she said the hydrangea was so beautiful and full of flowers before. I don't want to lose it. I am looking for advice on how to get it back to it's beauty.

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Hardiness Zone: 10a

Beachers from West Covina, CA

A: Beachers,

Don't worry about losing your hydrangea. If yours has been recently neglected, then removing the dead, twiggy branches is bound to open up some bare spots. The good news is that returning them to a regular trimming schedule will encourage them to fill in with new growth and bring back big those blooms.

To determine when to prune, you will need to determine what type of hydrangea you have. Hydrangea either blooms on "old" wood or "new" wood. Ask neighbors or a nearby nursery to help you with identification. Hydrangea that blooms on old wood should be pruned only after they bloom in the summer, because next year's buds form on this year's growth. Hydrangea that blooms on new growth can be pruned to within 6-12 inches from the ground in the early spring. No matter which type you have, you can begin to reinvigorate plants by cutting 1/3 of the branches to the ground in the summer.

Most hydrangeas prefer rich, well-drained soil that stays consistently moist. To give them a boost, apply compost mixed with well-rotted manure or a balanced slow release fertilizer to the drip line of the bushes twice per year during the growing season. Remember, it may take a little time and patience, but your hydrangeas will eventually come back.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

March 9, 20060 found this helpful

I would wait, until next fall....When I moved to Oregon and saw mine in the back yard, I was confused! I had never had experience with them, all I knew was that certain amounts of phosphorous in the soil changes the color. Well, about a month after I got here (I moved in August) they were in bloom and beautiful. THey went from white to purple, and I picked some for the house. Now they look crumby! I guess they just bloom for a time and that is that! Ask the neighbor for some more info, like when were they in bloom, how big were the blossoms, etc, and keep a good watch, then you may need to replant some in the bare spot (test the soil.) You may want to check with your local nursery or gardening club for more info on that particular area.

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May 23, 20060 found this helpful

I have a new Nikko Blue Hydrangea that I just planted....the leaves are turning brown? Any idea what the problem is? I have it planted on the south side of the house.....is it possible it is getting too much sun or do hydrangeas do okay in the sun?

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June 2, 20060 found this helpful

I am in the process of planting new ground cover in the backyard of our new home and my wife and I really liked the blue hydrangeas. We love them so much in fact that I wanted to ask if it is possible to take clippings and give them to my mother to replant or will I have to just go out and buy her a new plant, thanks.

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