Remontant hydrangeas will keep replacing blooms

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Every gardener I know loves hydrangeas, the blue flowers of summer. These vigorous plants become covered with large mophead blooms. Established plants seem to bloom forever.

Usually.

Some years (such as last year), a late frost will blacken the flower buds on the ends of the stems. With the buds killed, there will be no flowers.

If deer get into the yard, they can eat off the ends of the branches, and there goes this year's blooms.

There's also the well-intentioned gardeners who prune their plants during late winter because they think that is what they are supposed to do. Again, there go all the blooms.

There is a solution: remontant (reflowering) hydrangeas. These big-leafed hydrangeas bloom on new growth as well as old wood.

Should cold kill the tender new buds and the flowers inside, the new growth will produce new flowers. Anytime the flower buds are killed by feeding deer or by pruning, new growth produces flowers.

Removing the old flowers as they fade will help to keep flowers coming all summer and fall.

It's nice to have hydrangeas blooming in the fall.

Several hydrangea selections are remontant. Endless Summer (the name should tell you something) and Penny Mac are the best known and are readily available. Both will have blue flowers when planted in our acidic soils.

The flowers can be changed to pink if the pH is increased with lime or if they are grown in containers.

These big-leafed hydrangeas do best when grown in partial shade. Protection from the hot afternoon sun will help prevent wilting. Keep the plants moist and well fertilized.

Hydrangeas need protection from feeding deer. Some of the newer deer repellents seem to work when applied as recommended.

Remontant hydrangeas can be pruned in the spring for shape after the first flush of blooms. They're well adapted to container planting for partial shade. In large containers, they can be combined with annuals and perennials to create decorative pots of plants that flower all season.

Chinch bugs

Charles Phillips, of the Columbia County Extension Service office, said he's had his first report of the season of chinch bugs in a St. Augustine lawn. Be sure to scout your lawn weekly if you have St. Augustine growing in sunny areas and when we go extended periods with no rain.

Chinch bugs are becoming resistant to pyrethroid insecticides, according to extension service entomologist Will Hudson. This is basically all we have available to control them.

Pyrethroids are all the insecticides that end with "thrin," such as cyfluthrin (Bayer Advanced), bifenthrin (Ortho Max), and lambda cyhalothrin (Spectracide).

Last year, I treated my lawn during the early summer with granular Diazinon, a product that is no longer on the market.

Reach Sid Mullis, the director of the University of Georgia Extension Service Office in Richmond County, at (706) 821-2349 or smullis@uga.edu.


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