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I have a very mundane problem that is neither philosophical or theological. It is not ecclesiastical or sophistical. It has nothing to do with fundamentalism or modesty. BUT it is becoming a spiritual issue.


If only I were more like William Carey. His botanical skills were famous world-wide. The only time I ever resemble that great man of God is when I start to drive my wife crazy….

Hydrangea wisdom, anyone??


21 Responses

  1. Bob, my wife and I are having the same problem. It must be the Rockford water. 🙂

  2. maybe there’s a way to attach a Brita or Pur filter to your sprinkler….

  3. Yesterday I was wondering how many bottles of Dasani it would take to beautify my lawn during our rain drought…

    You should try it on the hydrangeas because the people in the commercial always look so refeshed.

    Non sequiturly yours,

  4. Maybe it just needs a vacation. The hydrangeas here in Seattle are looking great right now!

  5. Questions to consider:
    Are they getting enough indirect sunlight?
    How old are your plants? Maturity always determines production of blooms. When was the last time you trimmed them? Usually after a trimming you’ll have to wait a year.
    They are all over the place here in SC, so give yourself a couple more weeks before you hack them down. Finally, look for buds, if you have some be patient, if not then look for them next year.
    Bloom On!

  6. EH?

    since when is my little brother a hydrangea expert? i thought you enjoyed mowing mom’s roses…who are you, really? does your neighborhood association even believe in blooming flowers?

    oh wait, i just remembered your saturday job working for the landscaping-gardening southern wonderwoman. listen to him, pastor!

  7. Don’t be jealous.
    I love working with plants, and it’s great practice.
    Cultivating healthy plants has many parallels to cultivating healthy Christians. Light, water, bug patrol, etc…
    We had a hydrangea bush outside our old place and Mrs. G has a ton at her house. You haven’t seen the garden in the back of our new place!

  8. I’ve got 4 hydrangeas. 1 of them has six flowers. 1 has two flowers. The other two only have one flower a piece. I think that Josh is right about waiting. One thing I have learned: NEVER trim the stalks off. Ugly as they are, they apparently are important for next year’s blooms.

    I’m not sure what you mean by trimming, Josh. Can I do that now – in the middle of summer?

  9. By trimming I meant cutting the stalks down. Never is right, never do that. When you do cut a bloom off (for your table centerpiece:)) do it close to the bloom or far down the stalk.
    Another cool aspect of hydrangeas is that they are hydroponic (sp?). If you cut a stalk off and put it in a vase it will sprout roots and presto you have a new plant! Once the roots are established you can plant it in soil and spread the joy for future optical bliss and delight in the beauty of God’s creation!

  10. To cut or not to cut? This is the question. Josh, you said” By trimming I meant cutting the stalks down. Never is right, never do that. I’m a little confused. Probably shouldn’t be, but (as I said) I am no William Carey. Or Josh McCarnan for that matter!

  11. Sorry for the confusion, I was affirming your statement, “One thing I have learned: NEVER trim the stalks off. Ugly as they are, they apparently are important for next year’s blooms.”

    Never cut the plant down like you might cut a rose bush or other plant. If you do cut it back your hydrangea will grow back next year but will not bloom till the year after.

  12. Pastor Bixby,

    In addition to Mr. McCarnan’s good advice, I suggest heavy feeding and heavy watering. Lack of fertilization can lead to lack of blooms on a hydrangea. They like an acidic fertilizer, such as the Miracle Gro formulated for azaleas. Alternatively, if you save kitchen scraps and make compost (and you have a fair amount of coffee grounds in there), homemade fertilizer can be better. You can also make up one of Jerry Baker’s tonics involving soap, mouthwash, and beer. Mulching around the plants will help because the mulch will help to retain the hydor that your hydrangea craves.

  13. Whoa Aaron!
    Mr. McCarnan is my father!
    Yikes, I almost felt old their for a second!


  14. not “their,”
    but there for a second

  15. Just wait, Josh. Your boy’s little friends at church will have to call you something. You’re only about three years away from “Hi, Mr. McCarnan.” To borrow from Eliot: “Shall I part my hair behind?” Congratulations, by the way!


  16. Maybe I’ll be ready in three years…maybe.:)

  17. Josh and Aaron thanks for the good input. (Notice I’m ignoring Joy’s and Ryan’s “advice”;-))

    Aaron, I like the pink/pale color of the few flowers that I have. Is it not true that if I add a lot more acid that the color will change? And is that the only way to get blooms.

    Josh, confession: I did cut the stems last year. I must wait, I guess.

    Scott, Aaron is from Rockford, so it must not be Rockford water. Could it be us?????

  18. HEY! A lot of research went into my posting! Had you succeeded, you could have stood triumphantly on the cusp of the whole gourmet-water-for-your-lawn trend.

    You must not have seen the commercial – those people looked really refreshed.

  19. Pastor Bixby,

    As I understand it, some varieties of hydrangea do not respond to this treatment, but, since you already have pink blooms, yours should. By adding aluminum sulphate to the soil you can change the color of the blooms to a shade of blue. The friendly folks at Village Green will take you right to the product.

    Our hydrangeas are the best they’ve ever been this year, but they get a good deal of water. The one that is doing the best is in our herb bed, on the east side of the house, and it is surrounded by lemon balm (I have no idea if this helps). I’ve successfully transplanted two clippings from last fall, which are thriving this year as well (even a few tiny blooms). All of mine are white, though.


  20. Bob,
    If you need any of the three ingredients to Jerry Baker’s tonic, let me know.

  21. Mark,

    Aaron is my “liberated Lutheran” friend who is free to consume alcohol. My new problem is much more complicated: As a teetotaling Fundamental Baptist can I allow my plants the liberty to consume Jerry Baker’s tonic? My hydrangeas have not only made me suffer spiritual duress, but have embroiled me in a very complex ethical quandary. This is getting stressful… 🙂

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