SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

May 10, 2013

Broken pots, raised beds and hydrangeas

(Continued)

For more permanence, stone or brick can form the edge of the raised bed.

Build the simplest and cheapest raised bed of all: Just mound up the soil about 12 to 16 inches above ground level for your raised bed, and plant. All the advantages of raised-bed gardening — and no expenses. Just labor.

Q: I received a beautiful hydrangea plant for Easter, which was bought from a local florist, and was told I could plant it outside. I know there are species that are sold this time of year that are not hardy. Is there some way I can tell if this is a hardy outdoor plant?

A: Since I don’t know exactly what the florist sold you, I will take a chance and answer with some generalities: Most florist hydrangeas are “cautiously hardy” in this zone and can be planted in your garden. But please remember that these gift plants were forced into bloom for this holiday. They were grown in greenhouses with controlled heat, humidity, water and light and were fed lots of fertilizers. Once they have overcome the forcing and acclimatized themselves to our climate, most can be grown outdoors very successfully.

As the weather gets warmer, slowly acclimate your plant to the outdoors. Gradually take the potted plant outdoors, and place it in an area of partial sun, watering it regularly. Take it indoors if the nights are cold — remember, this was a greenhouse plant. Plant it in its permanent place in the garden after adjustment; this should be a place where it will get filtered sun — not hot sun — and plenty of water. Add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help prevent water loss, but plan to water a new hydrangea daily in dry weather. Well-amended soil and an extra-large planting hole are helpful. Gently loosen the soil in the pot as you plant if the plant seems pot-bound. After planting, treat your new plant like an established plant. Remember, no pruning for hydrangeas except immediately after flowering. And over the winter, the new plant may need protection during subzero winter days.

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