Landscape Maintenance

Maintenance Made Easy

Changing the Color of Hydrangeas

1. WHITE HYDRANGEAS can NOT be changed to pink or blue by the grower. (The Almighty sometimes adds pink and red to blooms as they age.)

2. If you live in a hot climate, it is unlikely you will ever see a “true red” hydrangea. No matter how convincing those pictures in the catalogs are or how much lime is added to the soil, one can only achieve a very deep or dark pink, not a true red.

3. One can rarely change the intensity of a color (how strong or pale the color is). The intensity develops for a number of reasons; the heredity of a particular hydrangea variety, weather conditions (hot or cold, humid or dry), health of the plant, and possibly other natural factors. Fertilizing hydrangeas one or twice a year may result in a little more saturated color simply because the health of the plan may be improved.

4. A few varieties of hydrangeas tend more toward the pink or the blue range of colors, but will not retain even this color if soil conditions are not right. 

Hydrangeas will show some color shift, which can be expected after transplanting. To change the color of your hydrangeas, add the following to the soil:

CHANGE TO PINK
For hydrangea blooms to be pink, the plants must not take up aluminum from the soil. If the soil naturally contains aluminum, one must try to keep it away from the hydrangea’s system. Following are a few tricks that might work:
• Add dolomitic lime several times a year. This will help to raise the pH. Shoot for a pH of about 6.0 to 6.2 (if it goes above 6.4 hydrangeas may experience an iron deficiency). Since hydrangeas take up aluminum best at lower pH levels, raising the pH will help to keep the bluing effect of aluminum out of the hydrangea’s system.
• Use a fertilizer with high levels of phosphorus. Phosphorus helps to prevent aluminum from creeping into the system of the hydrangea. Choose a fertilizer close to the ratio of 25/10/10 (phosphorus is the middle number).
• In areas that naturally produce blue hydrangeas (soils with aluminum), consider growing pink hydrangeas in large pots. If hydrangeas are grown in pots, it would be best to use soil-less mixtures, since these mixes would probably not have aluminum in them. In a pot, it will be much easier to control the requirements for growing pink hydrangeas.

CHANGE TO BLUE
To obtain a blue hydrangea, aluminum must be present in the soil. To ensure that aluminum is present, aluminum sulfate may be added to the soil around the hydrangeas.

Authorities recommend that a solution of ½ oz. (1 Tbsp.) aluminum sulfate per gallon of water be applied to plants (which are at least 2-3 years old) throughout the growing season. Important: water plants well in advance of application and put solution on cautiously, as too much can burn the roots.

To make the aluminum available to the plant, the pH of the soil should be low (5.2 – 5.5). Addition aluminum sulfate will tend to lower the pH of the soil. Another method for lowering the pH is to add organic matter to the soil such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings, etc.

If the soil naturally contains aluminum and is acid (low pH) the color of the hydrangea will automatically tend toward shades of blue and/or purple.

The choice of fertilizer will also affect the color change. A fertilizer low in phosphorus and high in potassium is helpful in producing a good blue color (25/5/30 is good. Potassium is the last number). Superphosphates and bone meal should be avoided when trying to produce blue.

After stating this with much certainty, I hasten to add that it is virtually impossible to turn a hydrangea blue for any length of time if it is planted in soil with no aluminum and that is highly alkaline (chalky). One would have to be very diligent in keeping the soil properly conditioned as stated above.

Perhaps the best idea for growing blue hydrangeas in an area with alkaline soil would be to grow them in very large pots using lots of compost to bring the pH down. The above suggestions for bluing would also work for a potted plant. Reduce the strength of the aluminum sulfate to ¼ oz. per gallon of water. In a pot, it will be much easier to control the requirements for bluing.

One last suggestion for those who are serious about this process; it is important to have your water tested so that it will not “contaminate” the soil that you have so rigorously balanced. The pH of the water should not be higher than 5.6.

Planting hydrangeas near a concrete foundation or sidewalk will often affect the color since the pH of the soil may be raised considerably by lime leaching out of these structures, making it difficult to obtain blue.


Trimming and Maintenance Guide

Evergreens: Trim last part of July to early August. To keep evergreen to size you want cut off all the new growth or if you want to let grow bigger cut off only half the new growth.

Shrubs: Trim to shape desired in July, may also require a fall or spring shape up. Any major trim backs due from October to March.

Perennials: Mulch perennials in landscape bed in October to winter protect. Clean up dead foliage in fall of year. Do not trim back Dianthus, Creeping Phlox, or coral bells unless browning occurs.

Grasses: Do not cut back in fall/cut back to green in spring of year. Do not burn grasses down!

Specialty Plant Trimming: (Azalea, Forsythia, Lilacs, Rhododendron and Viburnum)
Trim all plants within four weeks after they are done blooming. Trimming later will prevent plants from blooming the following season. These plants set their flower buds in summer for following year.

Butterfly Bush, Caryopteris and Hypercium: Mulch plants into landscape beds in October and trim back to six inches high in spring of year.

Hydrangea: Do not cut back in fall. Spring cut down to 18” high off the ground or higher and make sure to cut above the bud or green twigs. The shorter you cut them the smaller it will be that year. The more you leave go and don’t cut then the bigger it will be that year.

Magnolia: Trim in late spring or early summer right after blooming.

Rose Bushes: Mulch roses to protect in October. In spring of year cut out any brown or black wood then shape up rose evenly around.

Weeds: Pre-emergent and Spraying
Use pre-emergent once a month starting in March through October. Use a hand spreader to apply nice coating on top of ground and water in. Do not use this spreader for anything else besides spreading pre-emergent. Spray weeds that pop up with weed killer once or twice a month. Do not allow your weeds to flower out as this is how they seed themselves and spread throughout the landscaping.




Tree Pruning Times

Oaks: Do not trim after April 1st, could cause injury or invite disease. Do not trim until November.
Maples: Trim July through August. Maples will bleed heavier when prune while dormant. 
Birches: Trim late summer to early winter to prevent sap from leaking. Only need to trim out dead/damaged wood or crossing branches.
Gingko: Trim late fall or winter. Gingko generally need very little pruning as they age, shape while younger to create healthy canopy for later in its life.
Locust: Prune summer or fall to help lessen sap leaking from wounds.
Linden: Trim during the coldest winter months (mid-December to mid-February). Remove dead or damaged branches during summer.
Willows: Trim during winter months/while dormant. Willows do best when shaped while young to help create strong top and let go from there.  
Ornamental Fruit Trees: Trim in the dormant season fall to early spring. Best time is late winter to early spring. Ornamental fruit trees do best when shaped while younger, to establish a strong canopy shape as they age. As trees age cut out damaged/dead wood or unwanted branches as they occur.
Prunis: Trim after they are done blooming.
Magnolia: Should only be shaped while younger, older magnolias do not take well to trimming. Only trim older magnolias as last resort. Young trees remove weak/damaged or long vertical shoots. Magnolias should be trim mid-summer to early fall. Always trim magnolias lighter than heaver (that means less cuts is a good thing).


Yearly Lawn Fertilization Plan

3-step plan with weed control and fertilizer
*No over seeding!
1. 20-0-04 fertilizer with crab grass control
(Mid-April)
2. 19-0-02 fertilizer with trimec herbicide weed control
(Memorial Day)
3. 20-10-10 fertilizer
(Late Fall)

3-step plan with fertilizer but without weed control
Over seeding is ok!
13-25-12 fertilizer
(Mid-April)
25-5-15 fertilizer
(Late May)
20-10-10 fertilizer
(Late Fall)


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Call 563-583-9261

At Wagner Nursery Inc. in Asbury, we believe it's important to take care of your landscape on a monthly basis.

Below is a downloadable document that can help you keep track of monthly chores that need to be completed on any given month to ensure that your plants, trees and landscape are well kept. We hope this helps. Stop by today and meet our team.

Maintenance Reminder
Maintenance Schedule

March: 
-Trim fruit trees and small fruit if weather permits
-Apply dormant oil spray and lime sulfur if weather permits
-Apply pre-emergent to landscaping beds
-Major trim backs on most landscaping material besides trees, evergreens, and flowering shrubs
-Oak, Linden, Willow, Gingko trees can be trimmed
-Generally, clean up all beds, leaves, debris, castings, dead weeds
-Fertilize lawn weather permitting, 50 degrees or more
-Dethatch lawn
-Transplanting or splitting perennials, weather permitting
-Can transplant anything besides Amelanchier, Betula, Carpinus, Cercis, Pyrus, Quercus, Prunus
-Can start spraying weeds if needed
-Cut back grasses
-Trim butterfly bush, caryopteris, and hypericum back to 6 inches tall
-Cut hydrangeas back to 18 inches tall (only macrophelia) Trim pendulatas to desired height

April: 
- Trim fruit trees and small fruit if weather permits if you didn’t already do it
- Apply dormant oil spray and lime sulfur if weather permits if you didn’t already do it
- Major trim backs on most landscaping material
-Cut back grasses if you haven’t already done
- Trim butterfly bush, caryopteris, and hypericum back to 6 inches tall if not already done
- Cut hydrangeas back to 18 inches tall if not already done
-Anything and everything can be transplanted now
-Roses can be trimmed and cut back
- Can start spraying weeds if needed
- Fertilize lawn if not already done
- Dethatch lawn if not already done
- Transplanting or splitting perennials if not already done
- Generally, clean up all beds, leaves, debris, castings, dead weeds if not already done
-Aerate and over seed lawn
-Towards the end of this month uncover any plants that you may have mulched in the previous fall
-Early this month top off any and all berry plants back to 24”-30” tall
-Start up irrigation system and check for leaks, perform maintenance

May: 
-Trim magnolias now if you must, only after blooming
- Spray weeds if needed
- Apply pre-emergent to landscaping beds
-Start fertilizing trees, shrubs, and perennials after danger of frost has passed
-Remove any tight non-breathable tree guard or wrap
-Spray fungicide and orchard spray for fruits after they are done blooming
-Fertilize lawn again if needed

June: 
- Trim magnolias now if you must, only after blooming
- Spray weeds if needed
- Spray fungicide and orchard spray for fruits after they are done blooming
- Make sure all living things are getting ample amounts of water

July: 
-Maple, Locust trees can be trimmed
- Spray weeds if needed
-Trim shrubs to desired shape
-Trim evergreens
- Apply pre-emergent to landscaping beds
-Make sure all living things are getting ample amounts of water
-All trees, shrubs, and perennials can be fertilized once again if they are getting ample amount of water

August: 
-Maple, Locust trees can be trimmed
-Trim evergreens
- Spray weeds if needed
- Make sure all living things are getting ample amounts of water
- Trim evergreens and shrubs to desired shape if did not do last month

September: 
-Locust trees can be trimmed
-Shrubs and evergreens can be transplanted
- Spray weeds if needed
- Apply pre-emergent to landscaping beds
- Make sure all living things are getting ample amounts of water
-Over seed and aerate lawn
-Apply lawn fertilizer

October: 
-Birch trees can be trimmed
- Major trim backs on most landscaping material besides trees, evergreens, and flowering shrubs
-Most things can be transplanted with the exception of Acer rubrum, Betula, Carpinus, Cercis, Pyrus, Quercus, and Pinus strobus
-Mulch in roses, butterfly bush, caryopteris, hypericum, and perennials for winter protection
- Spray weeds if needed
-Blow out irrigation systems, prepare for winter
-Install tree guards and protectors to defend against deer and rabbits
- Generally, clean up all beds, leaves, debris, castings, dead weeds
-Apply a slow release, low analysis level of lawn fertilizer for added winter protection

November: 
-Oak, Gingko, Birch, Willow trees can be trimmed
- Major trim backs on most landscaping material besides trees, evergreens, and flowering shrubs
-Make sure any and all living things in the landscaping are very watered in, this prepares them for winter months with special emphasis on arborvitaes or anything that hasn’t had the chance to get rooted in
-Wrap and protect anything that is susceptible to winter wind burn while also adding the protection of spraying wilt proof on the foliage
-Apply pre-emergent to landscaping bed
- Generally, clean up all beds, leaves, debris, castings, dead weeds


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