HYDRANGEAS ARE EXTREMELY DIVERSE and are very popular in today’s gardens. Hydrangea quercifolia, the oakleaf hydrangea, is one of the most popular and widely available varieties, and grows much larger than you might expect. It can grow 6 to 10 feet tall and equally wide. This can be too large for many locations, and annual pruning becomes necessary.
ONE OF THE DWARF VARIETIES, such as ‘Pee Wee’ or ‘Sikes Dwarf,’ could be an easy solution for a small spot in your garden. It is extremely difficult to tell these two cultivars apart. Growing only 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide, this smaller size and a slightly slower growth habit make them ideal for planting in a smaller garden space or near a walkway or entry porch.
OAKLEAF HYDRANGEA IS PRIZED for its white 4- to 6-inch-long flowers, and it blooms equally well in partial shade or partial sun. Bloom time is influenced by location and spring weather. I have seen oakleaf hydrangeas blooming anywhere from late May to the middle of July, although mid-June to early July is the most common flowering time. Flowers dry naturally on the plant and hold on well into the fall.
ALTHOUGH IT PERFORMS WELL in a variety of soils, it prefers moist but well-drained soil. Where soil is constantly wet, heavily compacted, or extremely dry, the plants struggle and growth will be thin and flowering sparse.
ITS FLOWERS CAN BE FOUND in rounded or oval clusters at the tips of every branch, making an impressive show when in full bloom. Be prepared for beautiful, deep red color every autumn on the rough but beautifully textured leaves.
Shelly Nold is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.
ASK THE GARDENER
by Angie McManus
How can you get rid of or control unwanted Bermuda grass in lawns?
Bermuda grass, Cynodon dactylon, is difficult to eliminate in our Kentucky lawns. This invasive perennial grass is dormant in winter, when it turns brown. You have to wait until it is actively growing to apply any product that will be effective. Hand pulling is feasible in a small space or a garden bed but not in a large lawn. Getting to the roots is essential, and you may never be totally free of this grass, especially if your neighbors have the same problem, but the idea is just to keep it in check so it does not take over any desirable turf grass.
Bermuda grass is spread by rhizomes and seed, so removing or spraying it before it flowers will help reduce future spread. In the spring, you can spot spray with Round-Up or any other product containing glyphosate. This is a nonselective product, meaning it will kill anything it comes into contact with. It will take several applications to get Bermuda grass under control. Safer Brand offers a product labeled for Bermuda grass that is more environmentally friendly. As with any product, always follow application instructions.
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