A Summer Sampling: Hydrangea, Photinia and a Bag of Blood
Saturday, July 11, 2009
It's time to answer your garden and landscape questions as we roll into midsummer.
Q: I have a large hydrangea that doesn't get much direct sun. It produces one to six purple-blue blooms each year, though the plant is very large and looks healthy. What should I do to encourage more blooms, and when should I prune it? -- Donna Feller
A: Your hydrangea needs to be moved into more sunlight, though plants will wilt if they are in full sun all day. Eastern exposure is best. A good time to transplant is before growth begins in late winter or early spring. Give the shrub enough space to mature. A big-leaf hydrangea could grow to be about 4 feet high and 6 feet wide. Prune after it flowers. Buds are formed on the previous season's growth. The plant likes moist, well-drained soil high in organic material.
Q: I inherited a 50-pound bag of dried blood. Do you have any suggestions as to how to dispose of this? -- Peggy Reaves
A: Try local garden clubs through Arbor House at the National Arboretum, the National Capital Dahlia Society or National Capital Area Garden Clubs (http:/
Q: You mentioned the importance of rotating fungicides for entomosporium on photinia. I have been using chlorothalonil. Can you recommend products/brands of fungicides that contain the alternatives: maneb, mancozeb or zineb? I have not found these in garden centers. -- Susan Raetzman
A: Maneb, mancozeb and zineb might not be carried by area garden centers because long-term, continual use of any of these substances has been linked to dermatitis and because maneb is considered by some to be a possible cause of Parkinson's disease. The jury is still out on this issue.
This is why I am an advocate of improving soil and air circulation and installing resistant plant varieties. Research the fungicides you use.
This has been a bad year for photinia in the area. Contact your cooperative extension about alternative fungicides or plants.
Q: Can I have an environmentally safe lawn that looks good without using products that will harm the Chesapeake Bay? The clover was nice a couple of months ago but is now sprouting white tops, which attracts bees. -- Russell Nagel
A: You do not have to grow golf-course-type turf to keep your patch of property green. Practice safe turf-grass management. Skip steps that create nutrient or pesticide runoff. Mow once a week, using the most environmentally friendly mower you are comfortable with -- manual reel type, electric, gas rotary. Two-cycle mowers that mix gas and oil are the worst polluters. Manually remove actively growing weeds when you see them. Clover makes a handsome lawn, and bees are drawn to it when in flower, but they are beneficial pollinators.
Q: There is a family of woodchucks living under my deck. Is it a problem? -- Ed Hughes