General Discussion:

Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire

Messages posted to thread:

Rocks16-Apr-04 08:16 PM EST 6b   
Ann 17-Apr-04 04:38 PM EST 5b   
Rocks19-Apr-04 01:25 PM EST 6b   
Simon in Kingston28-Apr-04 12:22 PM EST 6a   
Rocks29-Apr-04 04:44 AM EST 6b   
Simon in Kingston30-Apr-04 10:05 AM EST 6a   
Catherine05-Oct-04 07:23 AM EST 5a   
Sylvia06-Oct-04 03:01 AM EST 5b   

Subject: Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire
From: Rocks
Zone: 6b
Date: 16-Apr-04 08:16 PM EST

I've just purchased these shrubs as foundation plantings and being new to growing shrubs, I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with these shrubs as I'm having a hard time finding out about pruning them.

First, the hydrangea I bought is called "White Dome", (hydrangea arborescens). What I've found on the net about it is that it is a new(last year) form of lace cap. I've looked on the net for pruning info, and I'm more confused than when I started. I've found an even split of sites saying to prune hard in the spring, and others to prune after flowering. I'd hate to prune it hard and find that I've taken off all of this years blooms. Anyone have one of these?

Second shrub I've bought is called "Henry's Garnet Sweetspire" (Itea Virginica). Again, apart from removing the dead branches, I haven't had any luck finding out if it should be pruned down, or just tidy'd up.

Lastly, I have "Anthony Waterer Spirea" (Spirea Bumalda). The only pruning info I've found on it is to dead head the blooms for a second bloom, but nothing else about pruning.

If anyone has any of these shrubs, I'd really appreciate any tips that you may have. Thanks in advance. :-)

Subject: RE: Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire
From: Ann
Zone: 5b
Date: 17-Apr-04 04:38 PM EST

Since the shrubs are fairly new, I would just tidy them up, cut off the dead flower heads etc., The general rule with Sprirea is to prune after flowering, but as they are not rampant growers, just a light pruning to keep their shape is all that you need to do. With my Hydrangeas I just cut back to healthy looking buds in the Spring. (I just did this job today !!)

Subject: RE: Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire
From: Rocks
Zone: 6b
Date: 19-Apr-04 01:25 PM EST

Thanks for the info Ann. I appreciate your help.

I will just tidy them up before I plant them. I'll follow your tip also re the hydrangeas. There are live branches on them as well as new shoots coming out of the ground, so either way it looks like a win win situation. I was going to plant them all today, but it's just so darn windy out there, any soil I dig up would likely blow away!

Thanks again for your help :-)

Subject: RE: Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire
From: Simon in Kingston
Zone: 6a
Date: 28-Apr-04 12:22 PM EST

The Hydrangea look great over the winter if you leave the old flower heads. It's easy enough to prune to the first or second set of buds in the spring. Sweetspire flowers on old wood so prune after flowering if you choose (not really required) Spirea can be pruned at the same time as the Hydrangea in the same fashion (maybe 4 or 5 sets of buds instead?). Some people recommend removing the flower heads right after flowering because Anthony Waterer is a good selfseeder.

Subject: RE: Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire
From: Rocks
Zone: 6b
Date: 29-Apr-04 04:44 AM EST

Thanks for your info Simon. Well, it looks like I won't see any blooms on the sweetspire till next year...I trimmed off alot of the top ends of the branches as they appeared to have winter die back (really dark and shrivelled). I cut them down to where the wood looked 'alive'. The plant was from last years stock at an awesome price, so it wintered in the pot, and I assume that's why it had died back some. I looked the other day, and there are buds forming on the rest of the plant, so I'll take your advice and leave it be from now on. I have a question about it tho...I've read that it can spread somewhat and make it's own colony...have you had that experience with it?

And about the spirea...I appreciate you letting me know that it is a good self seeder. I was planning on removing the blooms after flowering as I'd read that it will flower again if deadheaded, but I will let a few stay on...I won't mind a few new plants for other spots in the garden.

I plan to let the hydrangea blooms stay on over the winter. I love the look too. I needed some winter interest where I planted them, so I'm looking forward to what transpires this summer. Thanks for all your help Simon :-)

Subject: RE: Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire
From: Simon in Kingston
Zone: 6a
Date: 30-Apr-04 10:05 AM EST

My own sweetspires have only been in the ground for a year so they haven't had a chance to do much spreading. I've read that in 'normal' soils, they don't spread too much but, in moist, wet, or swampy soils, they will tend to spread.

Subject: RE: Hydrangeas
From: Catherine
Zone: 5a
Date: 05-Oct-04 07:23 AM EST

I've just returned from a visit to Ireland and was entralled with their Hydrangeas. They were huge and many had grown hedges from them. Also, they had the most beautiful colours, ranging from our usual pastels all the way to a sort of burgundy. They credit the peat soil and some people told me to add Zinc. Is it possible to stimulate this colour here in Canada, especially the deep burgundy reds and the darkest pink?

Subject: RE: Hydrangea, Spirea and Sweetspire
From: Sylvia
Zone: 5b
Date: 06-Oct-04 03:01 AM EST

This is all I know.

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, but not a true red (at least here in the South. 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 once or twice a year may result in a little more saturated color simply because the health of the plant may be improved.

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.

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