Pruning the ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea — whack ‘er down


POSTED BY KIM — It’s Easter Sunday, and yesterday I just pruned my Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ to the ground. With this warm weather, the shrub was fully leafed out, which made it seem somewhat sacriligeous.  My 10-year-old daughter even said, “Oh, are you taking that one out?”

No — just doing some daring spring pruning.

Be brave — you can do it!  Remember: the arborescens blooms on new wood, so you need to get rid of all of last year’s growth for optimum blooming this year…



Posted in Annabelle, Arborescens, Pruning | Leave a comment

Growing hydrangea from seeds

POSTED BY KIM — This is actually a video by Martha Stewart and plantsman Dan Hinkley, but it is so educational, I wanted to share it with anyone who has ever dreamed of breeding or finding that perfect new hydrangea in their back garden or greenhouse…

Go to Martha’s page HERE, and scroll down and click on “Watch the  Video.” Enjoy!

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Proven Winners releases new serrata ‘Tuff Stuff Lacy’

POSTED BY KIM — Proven Winners hopes they have another winner with Hydrangea serrata ‘Tuff Stuff Lacy.’

Its claim to fame is that it’s a….wait for it…YES…a rebloomer, so it will get flower buds on old and new wood.

It only grows 2′-3′ tall and wide, and in the fall, the foliage turns a bronzey-red (nice).   Hardy to zone 5, and only $17-something on this particular website.

Color me: intrigued….

Posted in New releases, Serrata hydrangea | Leave a comment

Senior woman goes berserk when neighbor cuts her hydrangeas

You know you've thought it!

POSTED BY KIM — Well *this* is a new one.  The Mail Online reports that an 87-year-old grandmother, Mrs. Perry, has had a series of ongoing feuds with a neighbor that escalated into a screaming fight when the neighbor trimmed back her hydrangeas <gasp!> because they were growing into his yard and blocking sunlight needed for his tomatoes.

I’ll let you read the rest if you’re interested, but it sounded like, from The Mail Online’s report, that the sympathy was with the tomato grower, because Ms. Perry has a history of doing crazy things to people who annoy her.

I’m going to have to side with the crazy hydrangea lady here.  :)  She’s got my vote.

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Wait! Before you prune those paniculatas, consider this…

POSTED BY KIM — Hydrangea paniculatas fall in that category that blooms on new wood.  You can prune them in the spring and have great new growth (which = lots of great flowers), or if you decide to NOT prune, you’ll still have some growth and new flowers.

The flowers open a creamy white, and as the summer advances, the color changes to varying shades of a rosey hue. Unless it’s 1,000 degrees F, then they go from white to NASTY brown.

And that’s exactly what happened in the summer of 2011.  Aaah, memories. I’m surprised flowers weren’t catching fire on the shrubs.

ANYWAY — this is where it gets interesting. I was at the recent Gateway Gardening Blitz at the Missouri Botanical Garden and heard Angela Jackson from Home Nursery say that in 2011, she pruned her paniculatas late — really late. Like late June/early July.  So flowering was delayed, which actually was a stroke of *brilliance,* because it meant they flowered at a time in the fall when temperatures had dropped back down to normal, so she got enjoy the normal progression of bloom color changes, unlike the rest of us.

I think there may be something to this. I’m going to experiment with pruning some of my paniculatas at different times of the spring/summer this year and see what happens. But when you live in a city where you consistently get summers that are hotter than…you know…hot, this might be a great trick to keep up our sleeves.

Posted in Paniculata hydrangea, Pruning | 4 Comments

Get your passports ready!

POSTED BY KIM — I just learned the 2012 Hydrangea International Symposium is set for July 5 & 6 in Angers, France. Oo-la-la!

I’ve never been to France — and probably won’t make it this year.  But consider this: The symposium will be held at the Terra Botanica Park, which opened in 2010 and is the biggest park in the world dedicated to plants, attracting 250,000 people every year.

The event’s theme is to develop and improve the hydrangea market, taking into account environmental and commercial constraints, and investigate what the hydrangea plants of the future are.

Four of the sessions include:
1. Origin of the hydrangea and genetic resources, management
2. Hydrangea: current physiological, biological and genetic knowledge
3. Development strategy and cultivation techniques
4. Hydrangea market in 2025

Donations to the “Get Kim to France Fund” can be directly to Kim Reiss.  :)  Maybe one day…

Posted in Misc. | Leave a comment

Do you know the difference between a flower bud and a leaf bud?

POSTED BY KIM — I don’t either. I was thinking about all the times I’ve cautioned people to not prune macrophyllas too late in the fall because they might cut off “flower buds,” and sure enough, you can see buds — but are they leaf buds or flower buds?

I searched a few books here, did the google thing, and came up empty-headed. So I called on the oh-so-helpful and oh-so-knowledgeable Kristin VanHoose at

She was gracious enough to do some digging and contacted Josh Kardos, Ph.D., at Plant Introductions, who said “It is not very clear cut.  Usually flowers buds are larger and more rounded than vegetative buds.  Not always the case though.  The flower primordia are preformed, so dissecting a bud or two will allow you to determine if they are vegetative or floral.  I hope this helps.”

I wonder if he was joking when he suggested dissecting the buds.  As a gardener whose sole purpose is to get the maximum number of hydrangea blooms, dissecting buds sort of defeats the purpose.  But maybe one day when I’m retired, I’ll give it a whirl.

But I’m glad now I know — what I don’t really know!

Posted in Macrophylla hydrangea, Plant physiology, Pruning | Leave a comment