Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Hydrangeas

Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Hydrangeas

As Fall turns to Winter our trees and shrubs become dormant and we naturally think “it’s time to prune”.  CAUTION!  You are entering a DANGER ZONE!  Pruning improperly can destroy what nature has taken years to create. 
Cutting dead looking stems off shrubs can eliminate all flowers the following year.  Pruning the wrong branches from trees can negatively affect their structure, overall beauty and decrease fruit production.
Ask questions, do a bit of research before grabbing the clippers or pruning saw.
This is the first of several articles offering “easy to follow” suggestions on pruning popular shrubs and trees.  Following these instructions will reward you with healthy, blooming trees and shrubs for years to come.

Let’s talk Hydrangeas

These beautiful shrubs brighten up the shady spots in our yards with multiple blooms on each plant during the spring, summer and into fall.  But if pruned incorrectly they will flower very little or not at all.
First step is to identify what type of Hydrangea you have.  Most hydrangea varieties bloom on last year’s growth – stems or branches that grew this year, will bear flowers next year.  This is common for mophead, lacecap and oakleaf hydrangeas.
Mopheads are known for their round balls of either white, pink or blue blooms.
Lacecaps are a flatter, multi-blooming flower resembling flat caps with frilly edges. 
Oakleaf are recognized by their distinctive leaves shaped like those of an oak tree.
These 3 types should be pruned after blooming (late summer/early fall).  These bloom for several months so you may need to selectively prune shoots that have already bloomed while leaving others to finish blooming through the season. 
If you prune these types of hydrangeas back to the ground in winter, you will not have flowers the following year.
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Reblooming Varieties:  If your hydrangea is one of the newer reblooming varieties (Endless Summer series, Forever & Ever series) they bloom on both current season’s growth as well as previous years branches.  These varieties should not be cut to the ground either – this will delay blooms.

How to Prune

1. Start by removing dead or damaged stems first.
2. If the plant is too large, cut the oldest shoots to the ground, giving the younger, smaller shoots more room to grow.  This will shorten and thin out the plant.
3. Cut back stems to just above a pair of healthy buds.
4. Varieties that bloom on old wood should be pruned immediately after they flower
Tip:  We suggest planting hydrangeas with non-deciduous shrubs in your landscape.  This will allow the focus to shift from the hydrangeas to these other shrubs during the winter months. 
By pruning at the correct time of year and using the correct pruning methods your Hydrangeas should reward you with a bounty of colorful blooms from spring through early fall.
Fall in Love with Perennials

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.

Hummingbirds are back! Tips & Tricks to take care of your special visitors!

Hummingbirds are back! Tips & Tricks to take care of your special visitors!

Every year they arrive in areas all over the Lone Star State. Hummingbirds, on their way from their wintertime stay in Mexico to breeding grounds across the United States, pass hummerthrough Texas every spring and then return south in the fall. Texas offers a chance to spot more than a dozen hummingbird species, you just have to know when and where to look!

Most hummingbirds arrive in Texas between mid-March and early May, and these spring months offer great opportunities to spot hummingbirds across the state! Many hummingbirds stay in Texas to nest during summer, while others continue to areas farther north. The southward migration that takes place in August to September offers some of the best opportunities to see these birds as they return to their winter homes in great numbers. Only a handful of hummingbirds stay in Texas year-round, but an occasional winter sighting is possible.

ruby-throated-hummingbird-male.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartRuby-throated hummingbirds are the most commonly-seen in Texas along with the black-chinned hummingbird, both nesting in Texas before returning to Mexico.

Ready to see some of these beautiful, humming beauties in your yard this year?

  1. By far, the BEST way to see these little birds is by adding plants to your containers and beds that will attract and feed them! We have many hummingbird-friendly plants at our Garden Center!
  2. Hang a hummingbird feeder on your porch or on a nearby tree and fill with sugar water or hummingbird syrup – remember to empty out the old solution and replace with new, as leaving old liquid in their feeder can make them sick!
  3. Place a birdbath near the feeder for them to use as well.  
  4. Get them used to getting close to you and your family by wearing sunglasses (hummingbirds aren’t fans of our eyes) so use sunglasses and a handheld feeder to get close!

Got bullies? Add more feeders in a clump! If you have one male hummingbird that is dominating your feeder to the exclusion of all others, there are two ways to afford your other hummingbirds a drink.

  • One is to put up other feeders on opposite sides of your house, or out of sight of Mr. Bully. Of course, this may simply mean that you are setting up other fiefdoms for other male bullies.
  • Perhaps a better solution is to add two or three more feeders in the vicinity of the first feeder. This will attract multiple hummingbirds, which will quickly cure your bully of his territoriality. He will not be physically able to fight off all the other hummingbirds, so he will give up trying.

Still unsure or have questions on how to get started? Don’t worry! We have plenty of feeders and hummingbird-friendly plants at The Home & Garden Center. Follow these tips and get humming!