Garden Tips

Deer Resistant Gardening

By Claire Wilson

Many Southern homeowners share that distinct feeling of disappointment when they walk outside to find nibbled stems and sticks, instead of their carefully cultivated garden. Sometimes it seems like deer will eat anything and everything, as long as you planted it. The good news is we have some tips to curb their appetite, or least get them to move to the neighbors.

Resistant Plants: There are many plants with strong odors and tastes that can get a deer's stomach turning. Here's some options:

Shrubs and Trees Perennials Annuals
Lilac Shasta daisy Verbena
Forsythia Bee balm Lantana
Spirea Japanese anemone Dianthus
Flowering dogwood Foxglove Lobelia
Ornamental grasses Bleeding heart Snapdragon
Russian sage Herbs (Rosemary, Mint, Lavender, Basil, etc.)
Most ferns

If you just can't be limited to such a short list, don't fret: there are plenty of treatments to effectively evade your forest friends. If you have a large area that needs to be protected we suggest Plantskydd Deer Repellent, which repels a host of additional pests, is all natural, and uses oil that make it a long lasting solution.

Bird Barricade Netting is another conservation method that is absolutely foolproof. This lightweight covering keeps Bambi out of the garden and still allows you to enjoy your harvest without having to worry about chemicals.

Lastly, wind chimes are a great 'scarecrow' to trick the deer into thinking that you are just around the corner, and are an all-natural, and enjoyable solution.

Whatever the plan, Hanna's will have just what you are looking for to keep the critters off your crops. Good Luck!


Hydrangea Information and Care

By David Shaddix

Hydrangeas have diverse growth habits, flower color, leaf type and sun requirements. So many varieties have become available that it is easy to become consumed by this one family of plants. It is also easy to care for them. You only have to know which group of hydrangeas you are growing. Below are the most common types and brief instructions for their care.

Hydrangea arborsescens: (Smooth Hydrangea) These hydrangeas bloom on new growth. Pruning should be done during the winter while they are dormant. Smooth hydrangeas can be grown in full sun, but they do best when protected from mid-day sun. Smooth hydrangeas are not as thirsty as the macrophylla types but still require a fair amount of moisture. Stems are not especially strong and often requiring staking while in bloom. These are more cold hardy and do not normally have trouble with late freezes in spring. Fertilize in spring to encourage strong growth and larger blossoms. Examples include Annabelle, Ryan Gainey and Hayes Starburst. Flower color is not affected by pH.

Hydrangea macrophylla: (Bigleaf Hydrangea) This is the type of hydrangea that is most common. Flower types can be lacecap or mophead. Color is usually affected by the pH and presence of aluminum in the soil. The color of white varieties does not vary with soil type. Lower pH (higher acidity) with aluminum present normally produces blues and purples. Use aluminum sulfate to change color from pink to blue. Follow directions on the bag carefully and water plants well before and after applying. Overuse of this product can damage the roots. Applying lime may help to keep hydrangeas pink but if aluminum is present in the soil this can be difficult. Macrophylla hydrangeas tend to leaf out early in the spring and may need protection from late frosts. An entire season of flowers can be lost in one night if the plants are not protected. Use cotton sheets or a frost blanket to keep the frost from settling on the new growth. Most macrophylla hydrangeas bloom from buds that were set the previous year. This means that if you prune them at the wrong time you may unknowingly cut off future flowers. The best time to prune this type is right as the flowers are beginning to loose their color or fade. Blooms can be removed right at their base or if the plant has gotten too tall it can be cut back as much as is necessary. Complete any pruning by the end of July with mid-August being latest date. Prune them too late and the first freeze of winter can damage the non-hardened stems and buds. Large amounts of water may be necessary to keep these hydrangeas happy the first year after planting. Once the roots have grown deeply into the soil their requirements lessen, but these hydrangeas will still require more moisture than most of the other types of hydrangeas. Plants tend to wilt when too dry making it easy to know when to water. They will usually perk right up after water is provided. Allow them to wilt for too long, such as a few days in a row and some dieback of the stems may be expected. It is best to plant bigleaf hydrangeas in sun for only a few hours of the day. Many can adjust to more sun but this will require more water and attention for the first couple of summers. If you have mostly sun try planting Hydrangea paniculata, Hydrangea arborescens or Hydrangea quercifolia. Fertilize in the spring after danger of frost has past. Mid to late April is a good time to fertilize in Alabama. Examples include Nikko Blue, Penny Mac, Dooley, Sister Theresa, and Blue Wave.

Hydrangea paniculata: (Panicle Hydrangea) This is the group of hydrangeas for growing in full sun. For the best flower display, plant these in four or more hours of direct sunlight. Paniculatas establish quickly in the landscape and are the easiest to grow. Since this group of hydrangeas bloom on new growth they can be pruned during winter. For years 'Pee Gee' has been the standard variety of this type of hydrangea. New exciting varieties have now come available. New ones to try include; Limelight, Little Lamb, Tardiva and Chantilly Lace. Panicle hydrangeas are well suited for training as tree form plants. To do this, place a stake in the center of the plant and train one stem up the stake until it reaches the top. After reaching the top, prune the tip of the growth to encourage branching. All lower branches should be removed early in the training process. Panicle hydrangeas bloom best when pruned during the dormant season. Try to remove all thin twigs and head back stronger growth.

Hydrangea quercifolia: (Oakleaf Hydrangea) Oakleaf hydrangeas are most commonly found in the wild. This native hydrangea can become quite large and when in bloom puts on an amazing floral display. Once established the oakleaf hydrangeas are drought resistant and require little care. Best planting sites are in 1/3 to 1/2 day sun, preferably in the morning. These hydrangeas will adapt to more sun when necessary but foliage will look healthier throughout summer if some afternoon shade is provided. When establishing oakleafs, it is important to provide even moisture the first summer without over-watering in the process. Water in the morning, rather than evening, to allow roots not to be soaked overnight. Oakleafs bloom on buds set the previous year, so prune them the same as described for Macrophylla hydrangeas. Fall color tends to be good shades of red and orange. A few of the improved varieties of this native hydrangea are Snowflake (double, sterile florets), Harmony (mophead type), Pee Wee (dwarf) and Ellen Huff (vigorous grower).

Hydrangea serrata: These hydrangeas are most similar in their culture requirements to Hydrangea macrophylla. Most serrata varieties are lacecaps and have a more delicate appearance when compared to the bigleaf hydrangeas. Flower color is affected by pH and the presence of Aluminum. Many varieties are also known for their great fall color. Prune this type hydrangea the same as Hydrangea macrophylla. Some good varieties to begin with include; Preziosa (one of the few mophead varieties), Tiara, Tokyo Delight, Purple Tiers (double florets), and Coerulea Lace.

General Culture

Fertilize hydrangeas in the spring after frost danger has passed with a balanced, slow release formula. Osmocote 14-14-14 is one of the best. Always keep fertilizer granules at least 12" away from the base of the plant. It is safer to allow the roots to find the fertilizer than to risk burning the bark off the base of the shrub.

For best foliage appearance in summer and fall, try to keep the foliage dry as much as possible. Watering in the morning while the leaves are already wet from dew is the best time. If it is necessary to water in the evening, try to keep the water off of the foliage or do it early enough that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall. It is also very helpful to spray a fungicide regularly during the growing season. Spray in the morning before the temperature has gotten above 85?? F and before the sun has reached the plant. Ferti-lome Liquid Systemic Fungicide is recommended.

A late spring frost can damage hydrangeas to the extent that there will be few blooms later that spring. Macrophylla types are the most susceptible to frost damage, but it can occasionally happen to the others as well. Protect open buds by using a frost cloth or cotton sheet to keep frost from settling on the plant.


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