Make your home happier with hydrangeas

The last week of July means you can continue to harvest fruits and vegetables, deadhead faded blooms from perennials and annuals and pay close attention to the watering needs of containers and hanging baskets.

This is also Part 2 of how to enjoy hydrangeas, so be happy that this handsome shrub loves to grow in Western Washington. Here are the most-asked questions about hydrangeas through the years.

Q. How does one change the color of hydrangeas? Pink is my favorite color. I have a white hydrangea and for two years I have added lime around the base of the plant but nothing happened.

A. Not all hydrangea varieties will change color. White hydrangeas stay white no matter what you add to the soil. The common mop head or hydrangea macrophylla will turn pink if the soil pH is above 6.5 and turn blue below 5.5. Anything in the middle becomes purple or lavender. In our naturally acid soil hydrangeas planted in the ground stay blue but in potting soil they lean toward pink. Adding sulfur (most often sold as aluminum sulfate) will make the soil acid and the flowers turn baby blue. A few cups of lime around the base of your hydrangea shrubs will slowly turn the soil less acid and more pink. Apply either of these products in fall or early spring and by summer your blooms will take on a different hue. – unless they are white or cream and stick with being neutral.

Q. How big will hydrangeas become? I want to try growing one in a container.

A. New, compact hydrangea varieties are best in a container as they can be pruned to stay less than 4 feet tall and still produce flowers. Most hydrangeas, especially the common big leaf mop head varieties and the Pee Gee varieties grow into giant shrubs up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Read plant labels at the nursery to discover the new dwarfs. Strawberry Sundae is a creamy white-turning-pink with pointed blooms, Edgy Hearts is a mop head that stays less than 3 feet, perfect for pots, while the Cityline series (Venice, Paris and other city names) will bloom on new and old wood so pruning them down one-third each spring will not prevent these hydrangeas from flowering each summer.

Q. What are the hydrangeas that take full sun? I have the blue variety but it wilts every afternoon when we have sunny weather.

A. Most of the paniculata or Pee Gee hydrangeas do best in full sun and can take the afternoon heat. The climbing hydrangeas and the oak leaf hydrangeas also stand up to summer heat. Perhaps the most impressive of all hydrangeas are the huge blooms of the Incrediball hydrangeas. These come in pink and white and are from a family called Smooth Hydrangeas or Hydrangea arborescens. These hydrangeas are not only sun-loving but great at tolerating super cold winter weather. Look for the Invincibelle series (Wee White, Mini Mauvette) and the much larger Incrediball series with flowers the size of basketballs.

• • •

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

For more gardening information, she can be reached at her Web site, www.binettigarden.com.

Copyright for this column

owned by Marianne Binetti.

More in Life

Photo courtesy of Kelsie Gardner
                                Kelsie and her mom participating in a previous Teal and Toe walk.
Girl Scout raises ovarian cancer awareness and receives Gold Award

The Renton local received her Gold Award last year for her efforts

Summer bloomers can’t handle our winter weather

Cut back your summer-blooming annuals or just pull them and toss into the compost pile

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains wasabi

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

You’ll want to read ‘Dracul’ with the lights on

It was just a little scratch. You wouldn’t have even noticed it,… Continue reading

Get your home winter ready

PSE offers a checklist for the end of Daylight Saving Time

Photo courtesy of Renton Schools Foundation
                                Campbell Hill Elementary student Adrian and Honey Dew Elementary student Isaac look at the billboard featuring them that thanks Walker’s Renton Subaru and Toyota of Renton for their support of Renton Schools Foundation.
Billboard of thanks includes two local students

The Renton School’s Foundation celebrated another year with Toyota of Renton and… Continue reading

Plants in pots, shrubs in tubs solve outdoor problems

Planting hardy, woody shrubs into large containers can help solve a tubful of landscape problems.

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains venom

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

Prep trees for winter with the “Fall Five”

In autumn, trees demand attention with their tinted maroon, orange and bronze… Continue reading

This book will help you talk about death with loved ones

There’s plenty of food for all. You can see that, and it… Continue reading

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains octopi hearts

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

‘November Road’ is the nail-biter you’ve been looking for

Catch me, if you can! And the chase began, one of you… Continue reading