I have had two climbing hydrangeas for over seven years without a single bloom.
They are in a bed at the back of the house with a trellis for each. I believe they get enough sun. Other plants such as hostas, ferns, Solomon’s Seal etc. do just fine there.
I am considering moving them but they fill in a spot that could be wonderful if I could get some blooms from them. What do you think?
This is a common issue with the true climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. It makes a beautiful vine with rounded, serrate-edged, lustrous green leaves and flaky, cinnamon exfoliating bark.
As a young plant it can be painfully slow to grow but will clamber up walls, trees and trellises by self-clinging rootlets over time. Eventually it will transition to a shrubbier growth habit, often not until it has reached 8- to 10-feet tall. It is when it reaches this stage that it will really begin flowering. I have often grown the vine for about 10 years before it begins to flower; so patience is your best ally. If you don’t possess that patience, try the false climbing hydrangea, Schizophragma hydrangeoides, which looks similar but flowers at a much younger age.
Red spots on my star jasmine
My jasmine was a disappointment this year. The leaves had tiny red dots on them and the blooms turned brown too early. What should I do?
I’m assuming you are talking about star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, an evergreen vine with sweet smelling white flowers. Red spots on the leaves are typically indicative of Cercospora leaf spot. This fungal disease appears usually when conditions are warm and wet which was certainly how our summer began. The much wetter than normal early summer conditions were excellent for many fungal problems and we saw them explode this year. I would try to remove as much of the infected material as possible, rake away fallen leaves and mulch this winter. Assuming conditions are different next year, your plants should recover.
When to prune a gardenia
My older gardenia bush never recovered from the cold winter two years ago. It has greenery but the blooms are sparse. How far back can I prune the plant and when should I prune it?
Most older gardenia flower heaviest in the early season from buds they form in the fall. Pruning now will remove those buds and reduce flowering next season. Some of the more modern selections bloom off and on throughout the season and so removing buds now will only delay flowering next season. In general, I recommend purning gardenias every two to three years after they flower in late spring or early summer. For best results, thin out some branches and reduce the height by about a third. I have seen gardenias pruned back very hard and recover beautifully but I have also seen plants die after this treatment.
Mark Weathington is the director of JC Raulston Arboretum at N.C. State University in Raleigh. Info: jcra.ncsu.edu. Please send your garden questions, including the city where you garden, to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Common name: Moonlight false climbing hydrangea
Botanical name: Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’
Family: Hydrangea (Hydrangeaceae)
Category: Woody vine
Primary uses: Climbing walls, tree trunks, and arbors
Dimensions: 20 to 60 feet tall if given space
Culture: Sun to part shade. This quick-growing woody vine scrambles up structures with tiny rootlets which hold tightly to just about any surface. The rootlets will not harm structures but are hard to completely remove if the vine is cut down. Once established, false climbing hydrangea is tolerant of most conditions except wet feet. Prune back after flowering to control height if necessary.
Bloom time: May to June
General attributes: This lovely woody vine climbs structures with the help of rootlets along its stems. The broad, spade-shaped leaves have a silvery wash over their surface providing a shimmering effect all summer long. In late spring, lacecap flower heads comprised of small, white flowers surrounded by large, paddle-shaped bracts adorn the vine.