The Endless Summer Hydrangea

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Hydrangeas are known for their old fashion charm with their large mop-type blooms.

Unfortunately, traditional hydrangeas often underperform.  Because they bloom only on last year’s growth, and they often suffer freeze damage, it was common to not have any blooms at all.  Too often hydrangeas leave us only with the hope of next year. 

Fortunately, the world of hydrangeas was forever changed with the introduction of the Endless Summer Hydrangea in 2004 from Bailey Nurseries with the help of Dr. Michael Dirr from the University of Georgia.  Dirr was doing some consulting with Bailey, known for introducing new plants, in the 90s when he noticed a hydrangea that was blooming in mid-summer. Bailey had been propagating and testing the hydrangea for about 10 years. It was unique because it bloomed in the spring on last year’s growth and rebloomed on the new growth during the summer.  Dirr immediately knew it was a game changer for hydrangeas and quickly coined the name ‘Endless Summer’.

Endless Summer varieties:

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The Original — big round blue or pink blooms

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Blushing Bride - pure white blooms that mature to a pink blush.

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Twist-n-Shout — reblooming lace-cap in pink or periwinkle blue with red stems.


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Bloom Struck — purple or rose-pink flowers with red stems.

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Summer Crush — a 2019 introduction with raspberry red or neon purple flowers with a compact growth.

Other recommended Hydrangea varieties:

Oakleaf  – Instead of traditional mophead blooms, oakleaf hydrangeas have white clusters of cone shaped flowers.  It is named for the large oak like leaves that turn reddish-purple in the fall.  It is a large shrub that blooms in the summer on new growth.  It also requires less water than a traditional hydrangea.

Oakleaf – Instead of traditional mophead blooms, oakleaf hydrangeas have white clusters of cone shaped flowers.  It is named for the large oak like leaves that turn reddish-purple in the fall.  It is a large shrub that blooms in the summer on new growth.  It also requires less water than a traditional hydrangea.

Annabelle  – A smooth hydrangea with white blooms on the new growth. Because it is fast growing, it is common for this hydrangea to be cut all the way to the ground each spring.

Annabelle – A smooth hydrangea with white blooms on the new growth. Because it is fast growing, it is common for this hydrangea to be cut all the way to the ground each spring.

Limelight  – Blooms in mid to late summer on new growth.   Flowers start green, turn to white and then back to green.

Limelight – Blooms in mid to late summer on new growth.   Flowers start green, turn to white and then back to green.

Seaside Serenade Series by Monrovia  – A more compact form of hydrangea ideal for smaller areas that blooms on both last year’s growth and new growth. To see all the varieties in the Seaside Serenade series, visit Monrovia.com.

Seaside Serenade Series by Monrovia – A more compact form of hydrangea ideal for smaller areas that blooms on both last year’s growth and new growth. To see all the varieties in the Seaside Serenade series, visit Monrovia.com.

Hydrangea Planting and Care

Planting – Hydrangeas prefer rich, well drained soil in a location with morning sun and dappled to full shade in the afternoon and evening.  When planting in our tighter clay soil, start with a hole twice as big as the plant container.  Incorporate compost and peat moss into the existing soil, fill the bottom of the hole with enough soil that the root ball will be slightly above the existing grade.  Backfill around the root ball with the remaining mix of soil and amendments creating a ring out side the root ball creating area to retain moisture when watering. 

Watering – Hydrangeas require more water in the heat of the summer. They perform best in soil that retains some moisture but does not stay wet.  It is common for their leaves to wilt slightly on 90+ degree days and then rebound quickly when water.  A good deep soaking every other day in the summer is enough.  A two inch layer of mulch will help retain moisture.    

Pruning – Hydrangeas don’t require much pruning.  In the spring, wait until the dormant branches start to bud.  Prune any dead wood just above the highest green bud.  Spring is the only time you should prune a hydrangea.  If you need to prune to reduce size, avoid doing so after the end of July.  Leaving the last blooms on the plant protects buds over the winter.

Flower Color – Excluding white hydrangeas, soil is the greatest determinate to whether the flower blooms will be blue or pink.  Soil with a pH below 6.0 (acidic) will have blue blooms.  pH above 6.0 (alkaline) will produce pink flowers.  Adding lime to the soil will change blue blooms to pink and adding sulfur will change pink blooms to blue.  Endless Summer has a formulated product called Color Me Pink which adds lime to the soil to produce pink blooms and Color Me Blue which adds sulfur to encourage blue blooms.  Similar products are available from Bonide. 

Fertilizer – Hydrangeas respond well to fertilizer in the spring and early summer.  Select a slow release fertilizer that is high in phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer label).  Phosphorus produces more blooms.  If you fertilize with a high nitrogen, the first number on the label, you will have more and larger leaves and less blooms.  

 

Hydrangeas require a little more work when planting, and a little more attention with water, but with the new reblooming varieties, and some of the older varieties that bloom on new growth, the color will be a great addition to your landscape. 

 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

Don’t let your Crape Myrtles fall victim to Crape Murder

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Crape myrtles are a must have plant for nearly every landscape.  They are one of the longest blooming plants in our region, have attractive branching and bark, and provide great fall color. 

Crape Myrtles require some pruning every spring, but way too often Crape Myrtles are trimmed incorrectly, too severely, in late winter to early spring. 

Why do so many cut crapes back to 4-5’ every year?

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Three Reasons for Bad Crape Myrtle Pruning

  1. It is simply what everyone does to their Crape Myrtles in the spring. Have you ever wondered if it is the best practice?  It pains me to see so many beautiful Crapes cut back to ugly stubs every spring.  This practice ruins the natural form of the plant.  Southern Living termed the practice as “Crape Murder” decades ago, but yet it continues as the common practice.

  2. The wrong variety was selected for the location and pruning is needed to control the size. Varieties include large tree types that grow 20’ or larger, medium varieties 12-18’, 6-12’ small varieties, and dwarf varieties.  When you select the right size for your planting area and are not forced to prune heavily to contain the plant, you will find you will have a healthier plant resulting in less disease and more blooms. 

  3. They believe the myth that crape myrtles bloom more if they are severely pruned every year.  Flowers are produced on new growth every year even if they are not pruned. Actually, without heavy pruning you will have more branch area resulting in more summer blooms.

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Crape Murder destroys the natural beauty of the plant. Mature crape myrtles have wonderful smooth and molten bark with graceful shapes. You will never experience this quality if you murder them every spring.

This Crape Myrtle fell victim to Crape Murder.

Best Pruning Tips

  1. Know what your goal is before you start.  You can always prune more, but once you have pruned, you can never prune less. 

  2. Remove last summer’s seed pods from the ends of the branches with hand pruners.

  3. Remove all the smaller branches growing toward the center of the plant.  This will allow more air and light to reach the center of the plant which will increase blooms and reduce disease.

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Great pruning… this Crape Myrtle didn’t fall victim to Crape Murder.

4. Make cuts back at the main branch and don’t leave stubs.

5. Remove any unwanted branches from the base of large shrub or tree from varieties.  Typically 5-7 trunks, free of any branches for the first quarter or third of the plant results in an attractive landscape plant.

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First leaf buds on a pruned Crape Myrtle in late March.

 

Crape Myrtle Insect and Disease Issues

Scale – The last two years many Crape Myrtles in central Oklahoma developed bark scale.  This problem is relatively new to our area, but has been a nuisance in Texas for a few years.  The insect is invasive and results in a black mold along the branches and trunk.  Although the scale is rarely fatal to the plant, they are responsible for stunted growth, reduced flowering and loss in aesthetics.  Best control is achieved with a dormant oil in the spring followed by contact insecticide applications in late spring and early summer when pest populations increase.

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Powdery Mildew – Best identified as a power-like dusting that develops in late spring and early summer on new leaves.  It will result in reduced blooming and misshaped leaves when untreated.  Warm days, cool nights, low wind circulation, and excessive moisture on the leaves are the culprits.  Best practice is to plant Crape Myrtles in areas where they will receive plenty of light and air movement.  If you notice powdery mildew, fungicide applications will be required to control the spread of the disease.

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Aphids – Traditionally, they have been the major pest for Crape Myrtles. A few aphids are not a problem and do not require treatment. But, if populations increase they can cause damage. Application of a dormant oil in the late winter or spring is the best preventive step to control aphids and is recommended. If aphid populations become a problem during the season, repeated applications of an insecticide will be required to gain control.

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Please let us know if we can help you with any Crape Myrtle issues — from plant selection, proper pruning, and care.

To insure you have a summer full of wonderful crape myrtle color, call (405)367-3873 to schedule a dormant oil application this week!

Lorne Hall