Q: I live in Houston, TX and I have a few summer blooming hydrangeas planted in my front flower bed (which faces north). Some of them are browning on the leaves (even though they get water every day) and some are doing fine. Do you have a good tip for keeping them alive during the hot summer? I also have a bunch of Lily of the Nile. What is a good fertilizer for them? Melissa Comer
A: Hi Melissa, You might want to check your hydrangeas for spider mites. These tiny pests usually congregate on the undersides of hydrangea leaves when it gets hot. They look like tiny red or brown specks, they move when touched, and they build tiny webs. They suck the juice from the leaves and cause them to bronze, brown, or look speckled. You can treat them by spraying all leaf surfaces with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil according to label directions. As for your lily-of-the-Nile, feed with a slow-release, bloom-booster fertilizer, such as 10-20-10 or 15-30-15. The ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium should be 1-2-1. Good luck, Grumpy
Q: Good Morning -- I found your email address while viewing Southern Living online and going to the garden section. I read with interest about when to prune my butterfly bushes. Thanks!
I have a common question concerning my hydrangeas blooming pink instead of blue. I purchased them while they were blooming and they were blue.
I know it is all about the soil -- acid for blue blooms -- I have watered them with aluminum sulfate -- and they continue to bloom light pink.
Question 1 --- Am I using the correct product -- if so, how often do I water with this and when do I begin?
Quesion 2 ---When do I prune my hydrangeas so I can be assured of blooms the following year?
Thanks for you time and I look forward to hearing from you. Lavonda
A: Hi Lavonda, Because your hydrangeas were blooming blue when you bought them and have now turned pink, I would guess you have somewhat alkaline soil. Making the soil acid will take time. You probably won't see a difference this year. Repeat the applications of aluminum sulfate a couple of more times, but don't overdo it, because too much aluminum in the soil isn't good for plants. You could also apply garden sulfur to the soil surface around your plants and water it in. And if you're a ground coffee drinker, save the grounds and spread them on the soil around your plants to acidify it. Once your hydrangeas start blooming blue, you may have to repeat the application of sulfur every couple of years to keep them that way. Grumpy