Hydrangeas: The Colorful, Bloom-filled, and Shade-loving Shrub

Many flowering plants are given as gifts on Mother’s Day and I’d say Hydrangeas top the list in popularity.  With so many colors and bloom types to choose from it is easy to choose a different variety each year.endless-summer-shrubs-2634b3-64_1000

Japanese legend associates heartfelt emotion, gratitude for understanding and apology with the hydrangea after a Japanese emperor neglected the girl he loved in favor of business and gave hydrangeas to her family to show how much he cared for her.

In addition, hydrangeas are beautiful plants that have evolved from the big ball-shaped flowers to lacecap flowers consisting of clusters of tiny blooms accented by larger blooms and large cone-shaped panicle flowers.  The colors range from white, pink, blue, purple and multicolor and even blooms that change colors as the flower matures.

endle summer blue hydrangeaThese beauties require shade and can handle some morning sun.  They like a well-draining soil that is kept moist but not soggy.  Mulching will help moisture retention and cool the soil in the summer heat.  They will bloom throughout the season giving you a lot of showy blooms.  An added bonus is that they easily make great dried flowers.

IMPORTANT:  Hydrangeas are deciduous and lose their leaves during winter.  Do no prune them at this time or you will cut off buds and will have no flowers.  Prune right after they are through blooming.   They develop blooms on previous year’s growth, so cut only stems that produced flowers this year or do not prune at all. Panicle hydrange

If you have a shady spot in your landscape add a hydrangea and enjoy their many blooms.  No shade in the yard – then plant in a container and place it on a shaded patio or porch.  These lovely ladies are wonderful additions and it is easy to see why they are such a popular gift.

Are You Planting Shrubs Too Close Together?

It’s easy to do – planting small plants too close together.  It’s hard to believe that 12” plant will be 4-5’ tall and wide within a few years.  You might try pruning to maintain them for a while, but that gets really tiring and the plant doesn’t look right when it isn’t allowed to grow to its preferred size.

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INCORRECTLY SPACED PLANTS

We all want instant gratification so here’s some tips on how to create a fuller looking landscape while waiting on your shrubs to reach maturity:

  • Plant small annual flowers in groupings of 3s to fill gaps between your shrubs and edge of the bed.  This will also add a pop of color to your landscape.
  • Plant small annual flowers in front of your shrubs to form a colorful border.
  • Use liriope as accent plants – either as a border or in groupings.
  • Plant larger annuals (coleus, penta, dusty miller) which can grow to 1’ tall and wide in the bed to take up empty space.
  • Mulch your bed, besides helping retain moisture and block out weeds it gives the bed a finished look.
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CORRECTLY SPACED PLANTS

When setting out your plants in your flowerbed read the plant tag and plan on the plant reaching the largest size.  We have a long growing season and most plants will reach their full maturity size in our area.

Choose plants that will not require frequent pruning to “fit” into your space.  There are so many different species of plants in all textures and sizes to choose from.  Make sure and ask questions when choosing your plants.

A word of caution – the plant tag gives general information about the plant.  The same tag is used nationally and the plant can perform differently depending upon the climate of the area.  Not all plants like our Texas summer heat but this will not be listed on the plant tag.  Again, ask questions if you are unsure if a plant is right for a specific area.

To summarize – make sure to measure when planting your shrubs and plan for their growth.  Use the tips to make the bed look fuller until the shrubs mature.  Ask questions and ask for help when making your plant choices.  Follow these steps and you will have a beautiful landscape you can enjoy for years to come.

 

Grab & Go: Trendy Planters Without the Effort

Ever wish you could have planters like those in trendy magazines full of beautiful plants grabandgofor each season.  You see them on decks, porches, patios, by the front door, or poolside.  Not everyone has the time or know-how needed to create containers that will last, but now you don’t have to.  Grab & Go containers from The Home & Garden Center are the answer.

What is a Grab & Go container?  It’s a pre-planted container in various size and price ranges enabling you to grab it and go with it to your home where you can either use it “as is” or drop the pot into your favorite container.  Either way, it gives you instant, professionally designed and planted containers like those magazine photos.

Custom Grab & Go containers are available also.  Choose the plants and container yourself or give us a color pallet and leave the rest to us.

We are planting spring and summer Grab & Go containers daily to keep up with the demand.

Fall in Love with Perennials

Perennials plants are such a versatile group of plants.  Hardier than annuals they return year after year to give color to your landscape and containers.  They are a good investment – buy them once and enjoy them for years.

If you aren’t familiar with perennials here’s some info:

  • Some are large and shrub-like and will bloom throughout the summer and come back next year and do it all over again.
  • Others are evergreen and stay green year-round – never dying back.
  • There are those that are smaller, sturdy plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds with their vibrant flowers.
  • Some varieties are lower growing and make good ground covers.
  • Many perennials are drought hardy and love the sun and heat (even in Texas!)
  • There are shade perennials that brighten up those shady areas too.

By adding perennials to your landscape you can create different looks as the seasons image1.JPGchange.  You can do so with color transitions as the weather turns from the coolness of spring to the heat of summer.  Plant pastel color perennials that finish their bloom cycle as the brighter yellow, oranges and reds of summer begin to bloom.

As your perennials age they can be divided into smaller plants – thus giving you FREE plants to use in your landscape and containers or to share with friends.  Who doesn’t love FREE plants!  Most divisions need to be done in the fall after the plant has completed its growing cycle for the year.

Perennials can be planted in groupings in your landscape or used as lower growing plants in front of your taller shrubbery to create depth in your flower beds.

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Use perennials in containers along with annual flowers to create more interesting plant combinations.  These showy plants can also be planted alone in containers – group these containers together and move them around to create different looks for your deck, patio and even in your landscape beds.

Many perennials are deer resistant which in our area is an added bonus!  They also attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are definitely pollinator friendly.

Perennials, with all of their uses, should be high on your “must have” list.  If you have questions about where and how to use them in your landscape we’d be happy to make suggestions.

Landscape Design Basics

One question I hear most often is “how do I choose what to plant in the landscape beds around my house?” Tall ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones? Where do I start? Here’s some easy to follow tips that all landscape designers use.

Plant shrubs that stay short in front of windows, porches, decks, and entryways so you don’t block the view.

Plant larger (taller) shrubs in front of areas without windows

These small and larger shrubs become your “foundation” plants that will be in your landscape for many years to come. As these plants mature you will see differences in the height of the plants which gives variety to your landscape.

You then can plant small perennials and annuals in front of the foundation plants. This will add depth to the bed along with colorful flowers.

  • Perennials bloom at different times of the year and most die back in the winter but reappear in spring and bring you blooms for years to come.
  • Annuals also bloom at different times of the year but usually do not last more than 1 growing season.

I suggest using a combination of perennials and annuals in your bed. The perennials since they come back year after year and the annuals for the “wow” factor their blooms bring to the bed.

You can follow these tips whether your flower bed is shady or sunny. Other things to consider are choosing plants that are not all green – mix it up with plants that have purple, yellow or variegated leaves. Use of different shaped plants (fat, thin, wispy) will also add to the beauty and interest of the landscape.

Follow these basic guidelines and your landscape will look like a professional designed it.

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Getting Ready for Spring!

Here are some things you can do now to help your lawn and garden look it’s best this coming Spring!highyieldnewmain_1000
1. Get Your Tools Ready
The right tool for the job can make the difference between a job taking an hour, or taking all day.
The tools you need will depend on what you are wanting to accomplish in your garden but here are some of the basics:

*Large and/or small clippers for trimming large branches and
​      pruning small plants
*Gardening gloves
*Shovel (and wheelbarrow if needed for moving larger objects
and soil)
*Hand trowel for smaller holes, and for loosening and spreading
soil
*Large rake and/or hand rake, both are needed to clear your
garden loosen soil and clean plant beds
*Knee pads so you can garden, for longer, more comfortably

2. Prepare your soil
You might not be able to plant that veggie garden, or those gerber daisies you’re looking forward to, but you can prepare for them! Soil can make the difference between a thriving garden and a struggling one.

3. Clear Your Lawn and Garden
Better to do this now than pushing it off till spring. Rake your lawn and garden clear of the debris and dead plants from winter and add it to your compost.

4. Prep Your Perennials
If you didn’t already do so in the fall, prune the perennials that need it. If you have questions of whether it needs trimming, email us a picture at email@thgc.net.

5. Weed
Weed while topsoil is still damp, not because it’s easier, but to get to the weeds before they seed other parts of your lawn. Do not add weeds to your compost though, because then you’ll just be re-feeding the weeds back into your garden! Also, make sure to put out a pre-emergent! This will kill the weeds before they even sprout!

6. Mulch Mulch Mulch
Mulch is like a multivitamin for your garden. You can live without it, but everything blossoms better and has more vitality with mulch. It not only conserves water, but cools plant roots, feeds the soil over time and helps smother weeds.

7. Finishing Edge
An often overlooked step, edging your garden is like a trim between haircuts. It just makes things look much more polished and put together. A good edge, especially on borders and between flower beds and lawn, is that finishing touch that will elevate your garden’s look and appeal.

Now that everything’s ready, all that’s left to do is just wait for that moment when you can plunge your hands back into the soil!