How to Care for Hydrangeas That Froze

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Hydrangeas produce showy blossoms on new growth each spring and summer. Unexpected frosts in the early fall or late spring can kill that new growth and prevent the plant from blooming. Frosts can also freeze old, strong growth and weaken the plant. The best way to care for a frozen hydrangea is to protect it from further damage and give it time to recover.

Difficulty: Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Sheet
  • Rake
  • Slow-release fertilizer
  1. Cover the hydrangea with an old sheet if another frost is coming. The sheet will protect any growth that survived the last freeze. Remove the sheet when the threat of frost passes.

  2. Allow the hydrangea to drop damaged leaves on its own. Damaged leaves are a brown color, and may look shriveled. Once the plant drops the leaves, rake them up and dispose of them in the trash or compost.

  3. Water the plants two times a week, if there is not an equivalent amount of rainfall. Water enough during each session to thoroughly soak the soil.

  4. Apply a slow-release, general-purpose fertilizer to the soil around the plant, according to the package directions.

  5. Prune the plant no sooner than the next growing season. Remove any branches that do not bloom with garden shears, as this is the growth that did not recover from the last year’s freeze.

How to Plant Perennial Geraniums


Perennial geraniums (Geranium spp.) also are called cranesbill geraniums. This hardy flower produces blooms for several weeks from early June through July. The flowers grow up to a quarter-size across in rose, pink, magenta, white or blue colors. The seedpods resemble a crane’s beak with a pointed tip. Perennial geraniums produce mounds of small leaves 6 to 30 inches tall. They grow outside in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 to 8. Use perennial geraniums as ground covers, borders and rock gardens.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Shovel
  • Garden hoe
  • Peat moss
  • Rake
  • Hand trowel
  • Perennial geranium bedding plants
  1. Remove weeds, grass and other debris from the planting site in an area of full to partial sun. When planting in hot climates, place the perennial geraniums in an area with afternoon shade.

  2. Loosen the soil with a shovel to the depth of 12 inches. Turn the soil over and break apart the large clumps. Work the soil over with the edge of a garden hoe.

  3. Spread a 1-inch layer of peat moss, compost or well-rotted manure over the top of the soil. Mix the organic material into the top 6 inches of soil. Rake the soil smooth and level.

  4. Dig a hole with a hand trowel only as deep as the root ball of the perennial geranium bedding plant. Place the plant in the hole so it is as deep as it was in the container. Fill the hole with soil and gently firm it around the plant to hold it in place.

  5. Plant the rest of the perennial geraniums so they are 12 inches apart. Pour water on the soil around the base of the perennial geranium plants until the soil settles. Water the plants whenever the soil turns dry to the depth of 1 inch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Perennial geraniums are different from zonal geraniums (Pelargonium spp.). Zonal geraniums are tender annuals and do not grow back after dying back in the fall.

  • Do not plant perennial geraniums too early. If the weather turns cold, the geraniums will stop growing and develop red leaves. Wait until the night time temperatures stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit before planting outside.

How to Care for Hibiscus Plants

images Hibiscus plants are available in both annual and perennial varieties. Some of the plants are low-growing, reaching heights of 2 feet tall while others grow up to 8 feet tall. The flowers also vary in size, with some varieties boasting blooms nearly as big as dinner plates. Hibiscus does best when planted in full sun, although they can tolerate some shade. Frequent watering is necessary to promote long lasting, abundant blooms.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Garden fork
  • Organic compost
  • Garden spade
  • 20-20-20 fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  1. Loosen the soil at the planting location to a depth of 12 inches. Add 2 to 3 inches of organic compost and mix well with the turned soil.

  2. Dig a planting hole the same depth and 4 to 5 inches wider than the plant’s root system. Plant the hibiscus at the same level it was growing in its nursery container.

  3. Water until the soil is moist 12 to 18 inches deep. Continue to add moisture anytime the top inch of soil feels dry during the first month after planting. Once established, water whenever there has been less than 1 inch of rainfall in a week.

  4. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the plants. Keep the mulch at least 4 inches from plant’s base.

  5. Feed once every two to three weeks with 20-20-20 fertilizer mixed at half the recommended strength. Stop fertilizing in early fall if you are growing perennial hibiscus.

  6. Clip off damaged foliage, drooping growth and rubbing branches as they are noticed.

  7. Prune perennial hibiscus to control size and shape in early spring.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plant tall hibiscus varieties in a location that is protected from strong winds.

  • Propagate hibiscus from seeds or cuttings.

How to Plant Columbine McKana Flowers


McKana’s Giant (Aquilegia x hybrida), a member of the Ranunculaceae family, is a hybrid columbine introduced in the mid-1950s. This perennial sports large, spiked blooms in shades of purple, pink, blue, burgundy and multi-colored pastel combinations on stately 3-foot-tall stems from mid-spring to early summer. McKana’s Giant columbines, which thrive in nearly every type of soil except heavy clay, grow best in partial shade. McKana’s Giant columbines tempt hummingbirds and butterflies, repel deer and rabbits and make excellent additions to flowerbeds as well as cutting gardens.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • McKana’s Giant columbine starter plants
  • Tiller or garden fork
  • Organic compost
  • Shovel
  1. Find a planting site that offers at least partial shade. The National Gardening Association notes that columbines grown in warmer climates need more shade than sun during daylight hours.

  2. Till soil in the planting bed to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then work in 2 to 4 inches of organic compost to prepare the site for planting.

  3. Dig a hole at least twice the circumference of the container holding the starter plant. The hole should be deep enough so that the top of the root ball sits even with the soil line. Allow 1 to 3 feet of space between each plant to provide proper circulation as the flowers become established.

  4. Loosen the columbine starter plant from the container by running a butter knife around the edge between soil and container.

  5. Remove the plant from the container and place it upright into the prepared hole, then fill the hole in with loose soil and pack it firmly into place.

  6. Water each columbine plant thoroughly to settle it into place.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plant McKana’s Giant columbine starter plants in the spring.

  • Stake flowers as they grow to provide protection from strong winds.

Propagation of Lily of the Valley Flowers


Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria magalis), also known as May Lily, Our Lady’s Tears, Male Lily, Lily Constancy, Jacob’s Ladder and Ladder-to-Heaven is a shade-loving plant found in wooded areas with filtered sunshine and consistent moisture. The plant presents broad, rounded, deep green leaves and tiny, white bell-shaped flowers. The plant is attractive to bees and butterflies. Lily-of-the-Valley is easily propagated by digging up and dividing established clumps of the plant. The plant spreads by small rhizomes (called pips). Lily-of-the-Valley spreads fairly quickly. Flower beds should be thinned every five to seven years to avoid overcrowding.

Difficulty: Moderate


Things You’ll Need:

  • Garden gloves
  • Organic compost
  • Peat moss
  • Aged manure
  • Garden shovel
  1. Dig up clumps of established Lily-of-the-Valley. In an established bed, dig up clumps every 1 to 2 feet. Fill in the holes with a mixture of equal parts potting soil, organic compost and sand. The newly created empty space will allow the plant to spread out and fill the bare spot. (If you do not have already established Lily-of-the-Valley, plants can be purchased from online vendors or home and garden supply stores.)

  2. Divide the clump of Lily-of-the-Valley, gently separating the pips. Place the pips in a bucket of water to soak while you prepare a new area for transplanting.

  3. Prepare a spot in the garden that affords filtered sunshine and good drainage. These plants prefer soil naturally enriched with decomposed leaves and humus. Cultivate the soil to a depth of 12 to inches, removing roots, rocks and debris. Work in a generous amount of organic compost, aged herbivore manure and peat moss. Water well.

  4. Plant pips (bulbous roots) 2 inches under the soil. Lily-of-the-Valley grows well under pine trees as it appreciates a slightly acidic soil. Avoid areas of full sun. The plants will tolerate some morning sun, but will burn or dry out in open areas. Lily-of-the-Valley flourishes in U.S. hardiness zones 4 to 8.

  5. Keep newly planted pips moist, but not soggy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Frequently mistaken for the real plant, false lily of the valley will only tolerate warm climates. False lily of the valley (Malanthemum dilatatum) grows well in semi-tropical to tropical climates where the plants receive filtered sunshine, lots of moisture and nutrient rich soil. The plant grows 5 to 10 inches above the ground, forming a thick, covering mat. False lily of the valley is an excellent ground cover for shaded or wooded areas. Plant away from traffic areas, in rock gardens or around water features.

  • Do not plant Lily-of-the-Valley if you have children or small pets. The leaves, roots and flowers of the plant are poisonous. Symptoms included blurred vision, headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea, depression, confusion, nausea and vomiting. Wear garden gloves when handling Lily-of-the-Valley. Wash hands and garden tools after working with the plant. Avoid mouth or eye contact.

How to Care for the Tropical Hibiscus


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, more commonly known as tropical hibiscus, is a perennial flowering shrub prized for its large, colorful blossoms. Native to tropical Asia, hibiscus grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 and 10. In ideal growing conditions, tropical hibiscus can reach heights of up to 12 feet and produce 8-inch-wide blossoms all year long. Despite all of its showy beauty, tropical hibiscus requires surprisingly simple care.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Garden hose
  • Flowering plant fertilizer
  • Pruning shears or loppers
  1. Water tropical hibiscus once or twice a week to keep the surrounding soil consistently moist to a depth of approximately 4 inches. Apply supplemental irrigation to the soil directly, as wetting the foliage of your tropical hibiscus on a regular basis can encourage the development of foliar disease.

  2. Fertilize your tropical hibiscus once a month from April to September to provide it with the nutrients it needs for healthy growth and flower development. For best results, fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer that has been specially formulated for use with flowering plants.

  3. Prune one-third of the old growth from your tropical hibiscus annually, in the early spring, to promote healthy, vigorous growth. Remove diseased, damaged or dead branches from the tropical hibiscus, as needed, to maintain its health.

  4. Monitor tropical hibiscus for problems with common insect pests such as aphids, scale and mites. Rinse pests from affected plants with a high pressure garden hose; do this in the morning to ensure that the foliage of your tropical hibiscus will be dry before nightfall.

Tips & Warnings

  • If grown outdoors in USDA zones 7 or 8, tropical hibiscus must be treated as an annual.

  • Use sharpened and sterilized pruning shears or loppers when pruning your plant to help prevent the spread of damaging plant diseases.

What Causes Brown Spots on Hydrangea Leaves?


The genus Hydrangea consists of several deciduous shrubs with showy flowers and green leaves. Some diseases, caused by fungi, result in brown spots developing on the leaves of these plants.


According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, infected leaves spread the fungus Cercospora hydrangeae, which cause the disease known as Cercospora leaf spot. Another common condition known as Anthracnose occurs when the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioldes attacks the plant.

Cercospora Leaf Spot

Cercospora leaf spot begins with small brown or purple spots scattered on the leaves that are nearer to the ground. The spots on the bigleaf hydrangea often turn tan to light gray in the center and brown or purple in the margins. On oakleaf hydrangea, the spots appear angular and are dark brown to purple throughout.


According to Alabama Cooperative Extension System, anthracnose attacks bigleaf hydrangea in the landscape and fields, affecting the leaves and the flowers. The brown spots first appear circular or slightly irregular in shape. They then develop alternating dark and lighter rings and become more angular in shape.

How to Breed Rosebud Geraniums

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Geraniums are popular garden flowers that you can grow on sunny windowsills or window boxes as well as all over your yard. The rosebud variety of geraniums is doubled-flowered, making them look like little rosebuds opening up. Once you have obtained your first rosebud geranium, you can simply breed new plants with cuttings taken from the established plant’s new growth, supplying a steady stream of new rosebud geraniums for your gardening pleasure.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • 3-inch peat pot
  • Potting soil
  • Scissors
  • Rooting hormone
  • 4-oz. clear plastic cup
  1. Fill a 3-inch peat pot with regular potting soil, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top for watering.

  2. Poke a 2-inch-deep hole into the middle of the pot with the back of a pencil.

  3. Cut a 3-inch-long section of new growth from your existing rosebud geranium plant. Use a sharp pair of scissors and cut the stem just after a bud.

  4. Dip the cut end into a little powdered rooting hormone, tap it to remove the excess and then sink it into the prepared hole so that you bury the bottom 2 inches of the cutting.

  5. Water the new cutting with about 4 oz. of water and place a clear 4-oz. plastic cup upside down over the cutting to provide a humid atmosphere. Keep the cutting in a sunny spot where it will be between at least 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

  6. Wait a few weeks for the cutting to root and new growth to appear, watering only when the soil feels dry.

  7. Plant the entire peat pot and new rosebud geranium in the garden after all danger of frost has passed or about four months after starting the cutting.

How to Force an Easter Lily


Easter lilies naturally bloom in outdoor locations during the warm summer months of June and July. Forcing Easter lilies to bloom for the Easter season requires controlled growing conditions. The plants require vernalization, or cool treatment to the bulbs of the plants. The amount of time required for vernalization varies with the species of the Easter lilies, but is typically a six-week period.

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging


Things You’ll Need:

  • 6-inch pot with drainage holes
  • Peat moss
  • Loamy soil
  • Perlite
  • 12-12-12 balanced fertilizer
  • Fungicide broad-spectrum type
  • Plant heating pad
  • Large plate
  • Refrigerator
  • 15-0-15 water-soluble fertilizer
  1. Mix equal parts of the peat moss, loamy soil and perlite. Add one tablespoon of the 12-12-12 balanced fertilizer to the mix.

  2. Place 1-inch of the soil mixture into the 6-inch pot. Set the Easter lily bulb on top of the soil and in the center of the pot. Cover the bulb with another 2 inches of the soil mix. Add 1/2 quart of water. Allow excess moisture to drain from the pot.

  3. Apply a broad-spectrum fungicide to the potting soil. Follow label directions for mixing the water-soluble fungicide. Set the pot in a well it area out of direct sunlight. Keep the temperature between 60 to 62 degrees F for three weeks by setting the pot on a controllable plant heating pad. Keep the soil moist. This method allows the stem and bulb roots to begin growth.

  4. Place the pot into a refrigerator after the three-week root growth period. Set the 6-inch pot on a large plate. This will keep water from dripping inside the refrigerator. Maintain a temperature between 40 to 45 degrees F. Keep the potting soil moist, but not saturated.

  5. Remove the pot from the refrigerator after six-weeks. Set the pot in a sunlit area. Maintain the temperature between 60 to 62 degrees F day and night.

  6. Apply a water-soluble 15-0-15 fertilizer once a week to the growing plant. Follow label directions for making the fertilizer solution. Keep the potting soil moist at all times. Flower buds should begin to show in 12 weeks after removal from the refrigerator. Full blooms will appear two weeks later.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can delay blooming by placing the plants back into the refrigerator for one-week. Longer cooling times may cause disease problems to the blooms.

How to Plant Lilies of the Valley


Lilies of the valley (Convallaria majalis) grow to heights of approximately 6 to 8 inches and feature delicate white flowers with deep green foliage. You may plant lily of the valley rhizomes in the fall or spring, as long as they are planted soon after you obtain them, as they may dry out and die. Plant lilies of the valley in a well-drained location that receives morning sun, and monitor the soil to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Spade
  • Compost
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  1. Loosen the soil in the planting area with a spade. Work the soil to a depth of 10 inches.

  2. Mix compost into the worked soil.

  3. Dig holes in the amended soil, one for each lily of the valley rhizome. Space holes 2 inches apart, and make them 3 inches deep.

  4. Place one rhizome in each hole, then carefully cover them with soil.

  5. Water the lilies of the valley thoroughly. After the initial watering, water only enough to keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

  6. Apply a 5-10-10 fertilizer during the springtime, after lily of the valley shoots poke through the soil.

Tips & Warnings

  • The flowers and leaves of lily of the valley are poisonous, so exercise care when determining an appropriate location for your plant. Avoid planting in areas frequented by children or pets.

  • When fertilizing your lawn, keep the sprayer or spreader away from your lily of the valley–excessive nitrogen hinders the flowering process.