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To Cut Back Or Not? Depends On The Hydrangea!

dried brown flowers
Got hydrangeas? Now's a great time to cut them back and dead-head them.

Should you cut back your hydrangeas? If you want to protect them for winter, now is a great time to not only cut them back and dead-head the flowers, but also do some other winter care prep methods. You just need to know which variety you've got before you begin.

Annabelle hydrangea blooms on new wood. This variety boasts those big, floppy white blooms. You can cut it back anytime. Just leave stems about a foot tall above the ground for next year to provide a sturdy base for new blooms. 

Panicle hydrangea is the shrub-like one that has brown and dried flowers on it right now. For these, wait till spring to cut them back. If you don't like the look of the dried brown flowers on the bush now, you can cut those but wait to really prune them back till spring.

Blue and pink hydrangeas sound just like their moniker and this variety blooms on new and old wood. This one is different in that it will actually need protecting and not pruning. You can do that by burying the bottom 12 inches of the crown with mulch and cover the bottoms of the stems. Come spring, cut them back, remove the mulch and they'll be ready to bloom again!

Q: This is the second year that my Black-eyed Susans developed an ugly black fungus. I have tried spraying and thinning the plants, but it is just out of control because of the summer hot and humid weather. I have decided to take the plants out and treat the soil this fall. I was told that ZeroTol is a good product for this. Can I plant new Black-eyed Susans in the same spot after I treat the soil? — Kathleen, in Deep River, CT

Black-eyed Susans can and do get a number of fungal diseases. That product you mention is actually made with hydrogen peroxide and for this, you needn't go to that extreme.

Instead, remove the diseased plants by cleaning out your flower bed, just as you have. Next year, when you're planting, maintain some space around your plants to provide good air flow, and those conditions will create less moisture and fungus. Then use a bacterial and safe preventive spray called Serenade. 

Q: I have dug up all my gladiolus and dahlias. How clean should they be before I store them? Also, re: asparagus, I have always mulched mine with a deep layer of hay, to be pulled back in spring. Is it unnecessary? — Kathleen, in Barre

You can disinfect the dahlia tubers, especially if you cut them from the main crown. Sulfur powder would work better than bleach, so try sprinkling that and it will protect them through the winter. As for the asparagus, this is a fine time of year to mulch them for overwintering!

A thin grey line.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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