Friday, September 4, 2015

Stop Flopping

Last year the 'Tardiva' panicle hydrangea by the gravel garden was the loveliest shape. This year it is split down the middle, flopping open.

I blame the rain patterns this summer.

Long dry spells have been interrupted by short bursts of soaking rain, and then weeks without rain again after that. Rainfall has been so episodic. I think the hydrangea, water lover that it is, grew too suddenly and too much when there was a lot of water, then couldn't support itself when the long dry weeks came. Or something.

The Rose of Sharon 'White Chiffon' is also flopping all over the place. I don't think it is as sensitive to intermittent rainfall, but for some reason I can't seem to prune this so it will grow upright.

This picture is after I did even more pruning to get the floppiest branches off the ground

I took a lot off in spring, cutting out older stems from the base and lopping off winter kill at the top. In mid August it was splayed out, almost lying down on the ground.

Enough, you two. Stand up and stop flopping all over.

By the way, I planted Hibiscus syriacus 'White Chiffon' because it is supposed to be sterile and not seed about everywhere the way Rose of Sharon can do. And what am I finding? Rose of Sharon seedlings all over. They pop up under it, they seed in the lawn and get cut down by the mower, and now I am finding them growing by the patio. They are very tough to pull out so this is starting to be a problem.
May 23 -- it looked pretty upright as it was leafing out in late spring. 

Between the floppiness and the seedlings, I should be thinking of taking this Rose of Sharon out. But it really is lovely in bloom from inside the house where you can't see the form, just the pretty flowers peeking in the windows.

And the hummingbirds go crazy for it. That surprises me, but they love the white flowers and forage for nectar all the time, just inches away from where I sit and watch them on the porch.

So it stays. And it flops.


  1. Laurrie, I know next to nothing about Hydrangeas, but I have a suggestion for the Hibiscus. If you prune them in winter or spring, they respond by making lots of long, thin branches that are inclined to flop. I only take off deadwood in early spring, and prune in mid-summer to restrict size if necessary. This summer pruning results in lots of thicker, shorter growth that will flower well, although the individual flowers may not be as big. You will be pruning off some flowers, but you'll have even more the next year. The seeding problem seems to be something we just have to live with, though.

    1. Lyn, this is excellent advice, and I will try it next year. There was so much deadwood this winter that I had to take a lot off in spring, but it does seem that the longest, thinnest floppers were at the sides where I tried to prune for shape. I'll stop doing that in early spring now, and see if mid-summer shaping works better. Thanks for chiming in with your experience on this!