MrsJiminy16
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Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:06 am
Location: Virginia

Help Needed - Found Hydrangea under overgrown holly tree

My husband and I are renting a home from a coworker of mine and this is the first summer we've been here. The home was her grandma's for a thousand years so often while I'm out playing in the dirt, I'm finding bulbs and different plants in the yard that her grandma planted long ago. Long story short, I was weeding around the shrubs tonight after mowing the yard and I came across beautiful dark purple blooms laying on the ground at the base of the Holly tree. Come to find out, there's a hydrangea that's been smothered under this holly tree and some other shrub. I pulled a lot of dead sticks from it but unfortunately also cut some green too before I realized what it was.

My question is how can I make sure I do everything in my power to give this little guy a fighting chance? Clearly he's a fighter if he stilled bloomed (even if it was only two blooms). I've cut a lot of the holly bush and shrub away to give it space but hopefully left enough to give it shade and protection. There's little shade on that side of the yard so I assume it got its support from the holly tree? I've always wanted a hydrangea and like so many others, I'm definitely a beginner in gardening all around.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!!

luis_pr
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Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

Re: Help Needed - Found Hydrangea under overgrown holly tree

How nice! I too have found hydrangeas growing in places out of the blue. In my current house, there was one that started growing before I bought the house. I am not sure what happened to it. It is one of those "disappearing acts". Maybe related to having dogs or who knows..... Hope yours last for a while. As it gets bigger, you can grow cuttings if you are interested in making sure this one never disappears!!! :o)

The TLCs that apply to regular hydrangeas should work but, just remember it has made on its own so far so don't give it too much TLC:
* let it get dappled sun; or morning sun/afternoon shade; or bright shade.
* try to keep it well mulched. Normally you can use 3-4" up to the drip line but since this one sounds tiny still, maybe use 2-3". Try not to get the mulch to touch the leaves although this is not doable sometimes
* feel free to use something (a small stalk, etc) to support it if it starts tilting too much or there is a windy tropical storm in the area
* you can feed it some composted manure, organic compost or cottonseed meal once in Spring; optional: liquid seaweed, liquid fish, coffee grounds; but stop all ferts by the end of June so it will go dormant in time for winter
* try to keep the soil evenly moist (no wet soil; no wet-dry-wet-dry periods). But do not go overboard with watering. Mulch will help conserve soil moisture and protect roots from summer/winter temps. Just wondering, where has it obtained water from? Can you tell? Is there a sprinkler that provides it and the holly with water? Or has it been on its own?
* If winter gets to be super colder than what your zone usually has, you could get mulch and, carefully and with a good stalk, cover it with mulch around to protect it... until it is bigger.

Here is information on hydrangea propagation:
https://hydrangeashydrangeas.com/propagation.html

MrsJiminy16
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Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:06 am
Location: Virginia

Re: Help Needed - Found Hydrangea under overgrown holly tree

Thank you so much for your reply Luis. We're supposed to have storms this week so I ran home last night and gave it Plant Tone (as recommended by a fellow gardener at work) mixed in with miracle grow soil and then mulched on top of it. And like you recommended, I tried tieing it with string to support itself and get the few leaves it has off the ground. I'll send you a pic later this afternoon when I get home.

As far as watering, I've been watering all the plants and shrubs in the back yard with the watering hose every night since about the beginning of June, so I was probably watering the holly tree and had no idea I was watering the hydrangea too. Should I keep that up nightly or water less frequently?

Thanks again for all your help!

luis_pr
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Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

Re: Help Needed - Found Hydrangea under overgrown holly tree

I would hate for you to change what already appears to be working watering-wise. It seems that you currently do well. Maybe give it a little bit more water in the Summer months, especially if you notice wilting of leaves or leaves that are turning brown from the edges inwards.

What I do to get waterings under control for camellias/azaleas/hydrangeas is use the finger method: at about the same time, for 2-3 weeks, early in the mornings, I insert a finger into the soil to a depth of 4". If it feels wet, I investigate why (normally because it rained or the sprinkler went off). If nothing explains it, then I research this in more detail because the water should drain somewhat ok in my clayish-but-amended soil. If the soil is moist, I do not water. If the soil is dry or feels "almost" dry then I give the hydrangea 1 gallon of water per watering in the Spring, Fall and Winter (do not water if the soil freezes in winter in VA). In the summer, I increase the amt of water to 1.5 gallons. If your soil is sandy, use 50% more water per watering.

Anytime you water using the finger method, make a note on a wall calendar. After 2-3 weeks, review the notes in the calendar and see if you can average how often you watering: once every 2/3/4/etc days. Then, set the sprinkler or drip irrigation to give the hydrangea 1.5 gallons of water every 2/3/4/etc days in the summer. In the Fall, when temps moderate, begin to water less. And once the plant goes dormant in the Fall and the leaves have dried out, you can water once every week or once every two weeks.

If the temps change 10-15 degrees and stay there, I then re-check with the finger method for a few weeks again to see if I need to tweak things.

Hydrangeas are not heavy eaters like roses so, you do not need to feed them as much. And if you forget to fertilize, nothing will come out of it provided your soil is not sandy and is not deficient in some minerals.

A single application (1/2 cup to 1 cup) in Spring for a newly purchased hydrangeas shrub is sufficient for whole year. A tiny shrub may do ok with 1/4 cup of cottonseed meal, organic compost or composted manure. If you want to use chemical fertilizers, choose a general purpose, slow-release fertilizer with a NPK Ratio of around 10-10-10.

During the rest of the growing season, you can add liquid seaweed, liquid fish or coffee grounds. Then quit all feeding by the end of June. That way, the fertilizers will get used up by the time Fall starts and the plant will not be in grow mode then (it will therefore go dormant at the right time). Too much of fertiilizers high in nitrogen will cause it to stay in "grow" mode and if nitrogen levels get high enough, you get nice green dark leaves and zero blooms.

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