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Is there any hope for my hydrangea tree?

ostrich
13 years ago

I need some advice please. The Snow Mountain Hydrangea tree that I planted last summer is still not leafing out. I just checked one branch by scratching the bark last week and found that it was still green underneath so I thought it was OK. However, today, I checked the other branches and to my surprise and shock, about 2/3 of the branches are actually dead wood. There are still several main stems/branches that are green underneath the bark, but many are just pure "dead wood".

There are really only a few swollen areas on these surviving branches that are probably buds that might or might not eventually leaf out.

Is this tree pretty much done? Is there any hope for it? Or should I just be patient and wait?

I would really appreciate your help!

Comments (30)

  • ego45
    13 years ago

    Ostrich, leave it alone for now.
    Could be a seasonal thing (my Qick Fire is in a full leaf while PG next to it just started leafing out) or sun exposure (Limelight in a part-shade already show some leaves, but the same Limelight in a much more shadier location show only swelling buds).
    Put pruners away for now, wait and see.
    Anyway, yours was a first winter in a ground, so some dieback should be expected.

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks, ego! You know, it is just so hard to watch it sitting there doing nothing, when everything else around is is leafing out so well... sigh!

    OK, I promise I will be patient for now...

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  • ditas
    13 years ago

    Hi Ostrich - I was just wondering about your SM H tree as I was trimming the dried up blooms of my grand-dau's Princess Kyu. I remember us posting about our H trees last season - you should perhaps check on your warranty, as most respected nurseries issue them for pricey plants - you might want to alert them now, just in case.

    Our little Princess survived the ice storm followed by heavy snow fall & wicked winds that made her keel over (45 degrees) from top-wt! I strapped her little trunk with a wide nylon belt, yanked her back up and secured with rope & tree stake, pounded through 12" of snow into the ground. I was like a looney accomplishing this feat but ... she is now fast leafing-out.

    Good luck on yours!!! :-)))

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Ditas, thanks! Guess what? I found the receipt from last July! Phew! It does carry a one-year warranty. So if it really does not make it, then I can take it back for a refund.

    Now, my mind is going crazy! If it doesn't survive, then what should I replace it with? I don't think I will go for another Snow Mountain... maybe a Pink Diamond tree? Or even a Tardiva (I love the dark green leaves and the neat shape!), or perhaps a Limelight tree if it is available now? But then it's close to a Limelight bush here so perhaps not...

    Or maybe I should go in a completely different direction and consider something like a Cotinus Royal Purple tree? Or even a small weeping cherry? Hmm.... the imagination is just one overdrive right now!!!

  • ego45
    13 years ago

    What I would try to do is to buy Quick Fire in a shrub form (I don't think they are yet available in a tree-form) and train it into tree. In a short 3-4 years you'll be very proud of yourself :-)

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    George, did you read my mind? I did think of getting a Quick Fire as a tree earlier today, but since the kidney-shaped flower bed next to this area already has a QF, I just gave up that idea... hmm... let me think more... :-)

    BTW, it's still hard to find QF around here, and the ones that I have seen really don't have a main trunk that can be trained into a tree... maybe I need to look harder?

    Another idea is a small dogwood, such as Cornus Satomi. What do you think? Or does that lovely tree get to be big too? I think that the perfect size for this area is 10-12' tall and about 8' wide.

  • ditas
    13 years ago

    Hi again Ostritch - I'm glad you found your warranty card. Our Princess Kyu is such an attention getter & conversation starter from walkers, in our longish cul de sac - I've had more inquiries about her ... hard not to adore her!

    Ego - your suggestion of training QF into a tree form is quite a delicious thought - should grow to a stunning 6ft tall beauty!!! I just looked at my QF planted last Jul - she might work as a good specimen for this idea - she has a thicker center wood & planted in a good spot for it ... if only I can brave pruning her other healthy limbs off, now that they are leafing out so beautifully. :-(

  • ego45
    13 years ago

    Ostrich,
    Satomi probably will be little big for the place.
    Even if you find a grafted single trunk tree with a graft at 5' it will be wider than 8' in time. Say 15x 10 would be a good guess for 10 years, but it will not stay in such parameters for long. BTW, Beni Fuji is much more superior to Satomi if you are looking for 23-25' tall pink-bracted C.kousa.
    Nice small(ish) kousa in that place will be perfect, IMO.
    Variegated Wolf's Eye or Gold Star or even just naturaly small (8-10') Little Beauty, perharps, should work.

    Dita,
    If your particular shrub already have a strong leader, stake it, leave 3 sets of the buds on top, clean everything else from the leader. Then cut all other branches coming from the base to 6-8". By the end of the season you'll have a two-tier tree. If you like the look, next year you could prune it the same way again.
    If not, don't prune at all and revert back to shrub or prune everything but main trunk and make a tree.
    In either case you have nothing to lose, in a first 2-3 years you could play with it before final decision.

  • ditas
    13 years ago

    Many thanks for your feedback Ego, I looked closely at QF's form and think that there are 3 possible leaders & all the others would likely cause me a heartache to cut :-( ... sigh ... so prettily bursting with light green leaves!

    If I decide to, is it possible to braid the 3 leaders & make a trunk of them & have more blooms to boot?

    TIA!

  • ego45
    13 years ago

    Dita, I've heard of such experiments with braiding paniculata's trunks, but personally think it will not bear any decorative or aesthetical value.
    If there are 3 leaders and you still undecided in what form you want it to grow, cut everything else, but leave those 3 major stems 'as is'. Next year you'll make a final decision.
    IMO, QF due to its more upright than weeping habit will look good in both, a shrub and a tree forms, so call is yours.

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks, George! I am not familiar with the other ones that you mentioned, so I will be sure to check them out!

    BTW, Ditas, I cannot believe it - suddenly we are getting a frost advisory tonight! Yikes! The temps were in the 70's last week, so everything is growing fast, and then suddenly we get this... I just cannot stand this weather any more! Anyway, I went to buy 10 dirt cheap, thin sheets and now my ES, QF, LL and a few other perennials are covered! Sigh.... the things that we do for our lovelies! :-)

  • kate48
    13 years ago

    One of my Hydrangeas got attacked by the vine weevil bug and completely gave up due to having absolutely no root system left, Up until then it had been an absolutely beautiful plant - with a mass of huge pink flowers..So I repotted it and cut it right back (I thought I can't make it any worse than it is now) and although not all of it recovered - I perservered and am starting to get new leaves on some of the stems (not all unfortunately)and although it is behind in terms of growth of my other hydrangeas its looking better than it was it's also getting some new shots poking up through the soil.. so I would suggest you just wait and see...If you'd seen the condition of mine you'd realise they're actually quite tough..

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks, kate48. I went back to the store where I got the Snow Mountain Hydrangea tree from last year. They do have a 1 year return policy, so I can actually get my money back if I return it before July. So I think I probably would return it and get a healthy plant, than to struggle with this eyesore anymore.

    With the returned money, I can either get another Snow Mountain Hydrangea tree (not sure if I would do that now), or get a Pink Diamond or Tardiva Hydrangea tree. They do not have any dwarf dogwood, which is a shame.

    I am now tempted to get a Pink Diamond, because of its ability to turn pink. I have Annabelle around there, so actually having something with dark foliage and pink flowers may work better there.

  • ego45
    13 years ago

    Why not a Kuyshu-tree?
    PD or Tardiva will bloom so late that your Annabelle will be already green, not white, by that time.
    Also, if I recall correctly, that tree is going into bed wraping your deck.
    If so, you need a cultivar with upright habit (Kuyshu, Tardiva or QF), not a weeping one (PG, PD, Limelight etc).

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    George, they only have the following hydrangea trees to choose from:

    - PD
    - Tardiva
    - Snow Mountain (Kyushu)
    - PG
    - Unique

    I thought that perhaps with the darker foliage, and pink color, it would be more interesting there? Yes, you are right, it's a spot that wraps around the corner of the deck... you have great memory! :-)

    Anyway, I thought that PD had very upright habit too?

  • ego45
    13 years ago

    I would of chose Unique, if it would be a true Unique, of course. Problem is, in US there are plenty of PGs sold under Unique name.
    True Unique should bloom earlier than any other on a list, have a semi-upright habit- strong upright canes with weeping tips, flowerheads should be shorter, but broader at the base than those of PG and PD and consists of fertile and sterile florets with about 1:2 ratio. It's unique Unique :-))
    If someone would say that QF is an improved version of Unique I probably would agree, with some reservations, of course :-)))
    If you could return your plant now and agree on exchange or refund later, when in bloom, then you have nothing to lose. You'll see it and either like it or not.

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks, George.

    This is a pretty reputable nursery, but then who knows.... anyway, I can return the plant up until early July. So maybe I can be a little patient and wait a little bit longer?

    If not, between Tardiva and Snow Mountain, what would you choose? I actually found that after I bought the Snow Mountain last year, I was admiring the Tardiva's red stems and neat leaf arrangement, and very dark green leaves greatly. I actually would not mind having a Tardiva at all... :-)

  • ditas
    13 years ago

    Hi Ostrich - I wish your nursery could bring in a Kyushu tree form for you. I haven't seen a Snow Mt. tree, how does it compare to little Kyu?

    A neighbor at the end of our loop has a tree that has larger/denser panicles and tends to be quite top heavy & weepy with the weight. She bought the house with the tree already there and didn't know what she is- also IMO planted a bit too close to the house with not enough sun exposure (is now leaning a bit reaching for light) that defeats her potentials to be the stunning, upright little tree that she could be.

    I wish I knew how to post photos - I'd love to share our 'pin-up girl'!

    Ego once suggested that to enjoy her to best advantage, Kyushu tree should be planted alone without close by neighbors to detract from her beauty. Unfortunately, Princess Kyu has 2 Knock Out R bushes, 10 ft behind & another 5ft farther back is a Tardiva that has grown quite some in 4 seasons. She still fetches admiration from walkers by despite competition - perhaps the bright pink of the KO's blossoms accentuates her beautiful top!

    Best of luck to you on your search for another beauty!

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hi ditas! Good morning!

    I think that Snow Mountain is supposedly an "improved" version of Kyushu... in what ways I am not exactly sure though! LOL! The spot that I have would be perfect to highlight a little tree like the hydrangea trees.

    Anyway, I am very intrigued by this Unique Hydrangea. I wonder if the leaves are very similar to Tardiva in terms of the color and the way they are arranged on the stems? I love Tardiva, though I wished that they would bloom earlier in the season! So if Unique is similar to Tardiva but it blooms earlier in the season, then I am going for it!

  • ego45
    13 years ago

    Ostrich,
    Pictures on a link below should give you a fairly good idea of how Unique suppose to look like.
    I have no good picture of my own, but trust me, panicles of Unique are way different than Tardiva's. They are shorter, wider/broader at the base and have a rounded top vs pointy one of Tardiva.
    Still, Kuyshu will be my first choice for the place given her airy appearance thus providing subtle, not overpowering beauty. In that respect SM being a copycat of K (improved K, hahaha!) maybe is worth to try again, I don't know.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Unique

  • yellowgirl
    13 years ago

    Hello hello Ostrich!

    Still working out that bed eh? Can't believe it's that time of year again. Seems like yesterday that you started that bed.
    First and foremost, you should follow George's advice about waiting....even though you have some dead branches, she is capable of throwing off many new branches from the existing live wood (even if only the trunk was alive) and she might surprise you yet. Why throw away a season of plant/root establishment if you don't have to?
    If you're still not happy....For what it's worth, (not much), and based solely on photos, my #1 choice would be the Kyushu. (for all the reasons George mentioned and because I've seen HIS Kyushu pics) If the SM is a similar or "improved" version, I would not hesitate to go with it again either. If other Paniculatas do well in your yard, (and they certainly appear to) then you may have just gotten a dud and should not sour on the whole cultivar. Hopefully, other SM growers will chime in with their observations.

    Having said that, the (potentially) failed SM as well as the return policy gives you a chance to re-think (second guess?) the bed yet again and do a little more clear headed refining as opposed to the "oh my goodness, I just had to have it" planting that usually transpires when one runs into the latest, greatest hydrangea. Oh, the fun!

    Yes, you should choose and plan wisely, but you should LOVE whatever you choose. You're the one who has to look at it everyday.

    Have fun and welcome to a new hydrangea season!....yg

    ps....Where's the photo album George????? You had all winter to get it together! How can we start another season without those mouth watering photos to get us inspired??? lol

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Good evening, George and yg! It's so great to hear from you, yg!!! :-)

    Yes, I have woken up from my hibernation and it's time to work on the beds again...!

    I must say that after I have seen the photos of Unique now (thanks, George!), I am very impressed by it. I LOVE the light pink color that it turns to! You know, if the Snow Mountain (Kyushu) would turn pink too, I probably would just replace it with another one without any hesitation. I guess I am a little hesitant to do another one because after having had it for one summer, it looked like it would really be nice to have something rather than just plain white there. Also, as much as I loved the airy feeling of the SM, that was a slightly windy spot and my SM had the leaves all over the place there. I found that the SM had less substantial leaves than the other paniculatas and so they did not seem to withstand windy conditions as well. That's why I am re-assessing the situation...

    Now I am very tempted to get the Unique!!! Hmm.... I will think a bit more.... thanks again!

  • ditas
    13 years ago

    Hi Ostrich - In my quest for hardier Lace Caps (2 or 3 of them) for my bright/shade/N foundation bed - 'have been to nursery sites mentioned in this forum. I saw a Unique tree form at 'Hydrangeas Plus' site for $89 if you haven't found one yet.

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hi ditas,

    Thank you so much for thinking of me! I just went to Hydrangeas Plus but they are now sold out.

    In any case, my local nursery still has many of them. My Snow Mountain is still not leaving out at all so I am convinced that it needs to be replaced. I just need to decide between getting another Snow Mountain or the Unique. I love the fact that the Unique tree will have light pink flowers as they mature, but the Snow Mountain/Kyushu flowers will just remain white. However, the local nursery only has the Unique in a smaller pot and they are shorter than the Snow Mountain trees which are in larger pots. Decisions, decisions, decisions....

  • ditas
    13 years ago

    Hi Ostrich - I guess You'll just have to weigh between color & the airy upright look of Kyu.

    If indeed your nursery has a few more Unique trees, George's (Ego45) idea - "If you could return your plant now and agree on exchange or refund later, when in bloom, then you have nothing to lose. You'll see it and either like it or not." might be your best bet!

    With regards to my QF - the thought of training her to be a tree ... I simply couldn't get my hand to get the pruner to work LOL ... every single day she gets more lush and full ... I simply haven't the heart!

    Anyway good luck on your decisions on SM vs Unique!

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks, Ditas!

    Unfortunately, I need to return the current SM tree just before July, otherwise, it will be over a year. So I am not sure that I can wait until I see the flowers...

    Anyway, I will need to make a decision soon! I think I may just go with the Unique just for the color...

    BTW, Ditas, I totally see why you cannot perform "surgery" on your QF! Mine is leafing out so beautifully too! It's just gorgeous!!! :-)

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hello everyone!

    I made my mind up and went to my local nursery to exchange my Snow Mountain tree for yet another one this afternoon!

    I decided on the Snow Mountain tree rather than the Unique for these reasons:

    1. The Unique trees that they have in the nursery are too short;

    2. The Snow Mountain tree has leaves that are distinctly different from the other hydrangeas that I have near the spot for the trees, and George, you are right, I really love the airiness of the form of the tree;

    3. I originally thought that I would love to have the flowers turn pink on the tree, but then I realized that everything else near the tree (Pinky Winky, Little Lamb, Limelight etc.) will all turn pink!!! LOL! So it will be nice to have something pure white there :-)

    Sorry, but no pics yet! I just got home and it's now raining outside... but once I got it planted, I will show you some pics! Thanks for all your support.

  • ditas
    13 years ago

    Congratulations Ostrich!!!

    If SM is an improvement of Kyushu, you will certainly have a lot of fun with her, she will not disappoint ... you know how we love our little 'Princess Kyu'!

    I'm curious tho, how can Kyushu tree be improved?

    Happy gardening days ahead :-) -
    D

  • ostrich
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Good moring, ditas, and thanks!

    The Snow Mountain is supposed to be "improved" from Kyushu for its larger flowers and increased sun tolerance... who knows!!! George was not convinced... but since I can't find a Kyushu tree here, the Snow Mountain will do! :-)

  • ditas
    13 years ago

    G'morning to you too, Ostritch -

    My grand-dau is with me this week-end checking on her little 'Princess Kyu' ... no buds yet but really filling out!

    I'm inclined to believe George, though I don't know a thing about SM's specs - our little one is in full sun and has not shown any signs of cowering down, to any of mama nature's tests on her ... so far (fingers crossed!) You'd never think she tipped 45deg, from ice & snow storms of last Winter - looks prim & proper as she is leafing out lushly!

    Have fun setting her in her home!!!
    D