• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

  • Categories

  • Archives

Keep ‘Annabelle’ standing

QUESTION: What is the best way to secure Annabelle hydrangeas to keep the beautiful blooms from breaking in the wind and rain? And why do these beautiful flowers do so poorly when they’re cut for an arrangement? – Debbie

‘Annabelle’ is among the stars of summer.

It’s true. The big, heavy bloom heads of Annabelle hydrangeas make an impressive statement in the summer, but whip them around with a strong wind or pelt them with heavy rain and they can flop over like big, wet rags. Sometimes the stems break, and that spells the beginning of the end for the lovely white flowers.

The best way to keep them standing is to prop them up. Judith King, who writes a Web site devoted to hydrangeas, has several suggestions. She says you can plant them next to a decorative fence, plant three Annabelle shrubs together so they prop each other up, or, early in the spring, surround each plant with a short wire cage. As they leaf out and grow, the foliage hides the cage, and all you see is your tall, lovely hydrangeas, happily standing.

One cultural practice to consider: Some gardeners cut the stems of Annabelles close to the ground in the fall. Since these hydrangeas bloom on new growth, they’ll grow and bloom just fine next summer, but the stems will not have had a chance to thicken. If you leave the stems 18 to 24 inches tall, those stouter stems will help support the newer branches and blooms next year. 

As for why the flowers sometimes do poorly after they’re cut (they sometimes wilt within an hour or two), Judith King says this seems to be caused by a sticky substance that clogs up the stem. Try this:

When you go out to cut hydrangeas, take a container of water and put the stem in water immediately after you cut it. Back indoors, boil more water and pour it into another container. Cut the hydrangea stems to the desired length, then stand the stems in the hot water for 30 seconds. Immediately put them into room temperature water in an arrangement. King says it works like a charm.

Got moles? They’re all over – or under — my kitchen garden. My next plan of attack will be a castor oil recipe that’s supposed to encourage them to move on. Read about it over at Turning Toward the Sun: A Garden Journal.


2 Responses

  1. I’m glad I didn’t read your post on using the Annabelle hydrangea blooms as cut flowers before I cut one. I planted an Annabelle shrub just about 6 weeks ago. My dog, looking for a cool spot, began digging right next to the newly planted shrub–we have since fenced off the area!–and dislodged one of the lower branches that had a bloom on it. I clipped the end and immediately stuck it in a vase. Nearly 2 weeks later, it is still blooming! It’s probably beginner’s luck, and I daren’t try it ever again…

  2. They don’t always wilt when you cut them – but sometimes they do, and this technique is supposed to help avoid that possibility. You can also try it to rejuvenate a cut bloom that has wilted. Good luck with the new shrub!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: