Thursday, June 10, 2004

Hydrangea 'Nikko Blue'


Hydrangea 'Nikko Blue'

You get this color blue when your soil is acidic. The blooms will be more purpley, or even pink, if the soil is alkaline. I try and put Espoma's Hollytone (good for acid-loving plants) around my Hydrangeas and azaleas every spring and fall, which seems to help keep my Hydrangeas this clear blue color.

36 Comments:

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Terry A said...

My Nikko Blue didn't bloom. It sits in dappled sun to full (high, light) shade, depending on time of day, but it only had a couple of blooms last year, and none this year. This is year three for it. I use Miracle Grow acidic fertilizer and keep it moist. Help.

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Mine have gone through bouts of several years where they didn't bloom. Hydrangeas bloom on OLD wood, so, it could be that you're pruning off the old branches before they get a chance to bloom. Sometimes I think it's just that the shrub needs to rejuvenate itself for a couple years. Don't worry - it'll bloom next year or the year after. I like to fertilize mine with HollyTone, which is also for acid-lovers, since I have my hydrangeas planted among azaleas and hollies.

Hope this helps.

-Mary

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Marcia said...

My lawn person pruned my 3 nikko blues all the way down in the spring, cutting off the old wood. The plant grew to a huge height and circumference, and of course, no blooms came. Should I cut this new growth back now(mid-Sept.) and leave the short old wood that is at the base of the plant so that, hopefully, I can get blooms next season?I fear he ruined the potential for blooms. And also, how can I get the size of the plant back to a normal size? please help!

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Unless you need the room because the size of the shrub is just too big, I would not prune them at all -- I'd let this season's new wood become next season's old wood, on which you may get some blooms. I'd leave last year's old wood, too, to help increase your chances for blooms for next year. If you must prune them to tame their size, I would only prune 1/3 of the new growth, and prune those branches all the way to the base. Leave the other branches be - do not prune them at all. Hydrangeas have a way of looking dead come winter, and it is tempting to want to prune back those dead-looking branches, but wait until April or so, when leaf buds start to green up, and you'll have an easier time telling the dead branches from the living. The dead ones stay looking whitish, whereas the living ones are greenish/brownish. Again - hope that helps. -Mary

 
At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Dick said...

Our Nikko Blues (planted last fall) are in full shade until the afternoon sun. They appear very vibrant and healthy until the sun hits them. After an hour or so in the sun the leaves roll up and the branches droop. Looks awful. The next morning everythings looking good again until the sun hits them. We are in zone 5. Any comments.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger Mary said...

That's very typical behavior for Hydrangeas. When it's hot and dry out, they tend to shrivel up in the afternoons until the next morning, when they've had all night to recover in cooler temperatures and with moisture from morning dew. Mine seemed happiest when I watered them daily and thoroughly during the hottest part of the summer. I say "seemed" because mine have since gone on to their great reward. Last summer and fall (2005) we had the driest couple of months on record, (no rain for two months!), and because I was traveling a lot for work, my Hydrangeas didn't get watered, and the drought was too much for them to recover. I'm fairly discouraged to have lost them, along with many other shrubs and plants in my garden. At this stage, I think I only want to replace them with more drought-tolerant species.

 
At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Ann Marie said...

I have two Nikko Blue Hydrangeas that were cut back to 4-6 inches recently, late May. These hydrangea were planted in the fall of '05, so this is the second spring season. I thought they were both dead until recently, where the new growth has come in (about 6-8 inches tall only), but the old wood still seemed white and was very dry and dead-looking when I cut it back. What should I do to rejuvenate the plants...I have read by your comments that I should get an acidic fertilizer and water frequently. The landscapers planted them, and I have really not done any maintenance to them except watering. I am now trying to really get involved with gardening and am realizing that I have not done what was needed for them to thrive. I hope it is not too late. What should I do now? The new growth does look healthy.

 
At 11:49 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Do exactly as you said -- fertilize (I like Espoma's "Hollytone"), and water, water, water. In the high heat of July & August, you'll need to water them daily. If you have long stretches of dry weather and temps in the 100's, you may need to water them twice a day. Water them whenever they start to look droopy, which is often in the afternoon, when it's hottest.

And DO NOT PRUNE THEM again until LATE spring next year, and then only the dead wood.

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently moved my Nikko (planted last year, 4-gal) from a densely shaded area to a sunnier/dappled area of the garden, because while there was some new growth showing at the base, it was very, very slow growing. I trimmed back a bit of the old wood (12") before moving. Now, while the leaves are healthy looking, there's really no progress. Help! Anne

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Mary said...

It's probably not going to bloom this year. So think of this year as a "rebuilding year", and hope for the best for next year. In the meantime, keep it well watered and mulched, and it wouldn't hurt to feed it with an all natural fertilizer like Hollytone, or just some rich compost around the base, underneath the mulch.

 
At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the early spring every year new leaf buds start growing on the old stems, they even start to open but every spring the buds then turn brown and die. We had a warm late winter and early spring, so it wasn't the cold. Very few flowers each year even though plant is 10 years old. Help!

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger Mary said...

I would venture to say that it very well WAS the cold. The warm winter caused the Hydrangea to break dormancy early, and then perhaps you had a brief cold snap, or just a hard frost one night, after the buds had already emerged, and that's all it takes to kill them back.

You don't say where you live, but if you are any farther North than zone 7, you will continue to have this problem every spring. Even in zones 7a and 7b, you'll probably see this problem every few years. As I see it, your only option to avoid this is to monitor the shrub and the forecast. Once the buds start to emerge and green up a bit, (around April, at least where I live, in zone 7a), start watching the forecasts for cold nights (temps less than 30ºF) and when hard frosts and freezes are predicted, cover your Hydrangea with a bed sheet, and remove it the next morning, after the sun is up.

If you live in zone 6 or colder, I'm not sure if even that will help.

-Mary

 
At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary,

I have a nicely blooming nikko blue hydrangea (despite pruning back a bit this spring), but I have needed to support it with stakes/garden tape. It seems like the weight of the blooms is too much for the branches? Any suggestions? I fertilize with 10-10-10 and garden sulfur.

Tracy in Maryland

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Hi Tracy,

That tends to happen when it's a young shrub, or at least the branches holding the blooms are new growth. Some will flop on the ground. The new hydrangeas I planted this year did the same thing. Not much I know of to prevent that, except to keep it watered well -- the leaves and branches droop less when they're well hydrated.

Also, heavy fertilizing causes any plant to send up a lot of new green growth which can often be less sturdy, so if you've fed the shrub a lot, cut back a bit. In any case, if you let the shrub mature a bit and don't prune it (except for the dead branches), then many of next year's blooms will be on older, sturdier growth. Good luck!

-Mary

 
At 3:58 AM, Blogger PURPLE_AND_BLACK_CAT said...

Hello, I'm thinking about planting some blue Nikko hydrangeas and I don't know when you are supposed to plant them.I read all of the packaging and it doesn't say. I was hoping you knew and could help me? thank you

 
At 11:28 AM, Blogger Mary said...

purple_and_black_cat -- since you didn't leave an email address and don't seem to have a blog, I will reply here:

Plant them, as with any shrub, in the spring or fall. And water them in WELL and often.

 
At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in southern CT and have had our 3 Nikko Blues for 7 years. They get a bit of morning sun but are mostly shaded (due to our neighbor's tree). We have never pruned them. They are still basically the same size they were when we bought them. The blooms, if any, are always quite small. We are finally going to move them to an area in our yard that gets much more morning sun. Think this will help?
Thanks.

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger Mary said...

It might help. Fertilizing might also help.

 
At 12:59 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

I just bought a nikko blue and I live in a zone four, Boulder, Colorado. The area I want to put them in is in a court yard so its very well protected and against a southern facing wall. My question is should I go ahead and plant them or get a different variety. If so what kind would work?

 
At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i bought my blue hydrangea at the beginning ogf the summer. it has bloomed but now it appears dead, the flowers have died and the leaves appear dead and brown as well. what should i do? i see some new shoots at the bottom, should i just trim off all of the dead parts?

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Water, water, water, and yes, trim off the dead parts, but not the new shoots, obviously.

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Marie said...

Hi, I have a Nikko Blue Hydrangea & I live in Utah, its in sun/shade on the north side, it is getting black spots on the leaves and some leaves are turning a burgundy color, does anyone know what could be wrong with it?

 
At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I planted a Nikko blue two years ago. The second year it bloomed. My advice is DON'T TOUCH THEM, DON'T PRUNE THEM BACK. I got this advice from a good friend and I had spectacular blooms the second year. Lay off the plant and it will do fine

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger Madeline said...

I have several nikko blue hydrangas that are five years old and about 6' tall. They're full of flowers, many of which are weighted down. I want to cut them back to a more manageable size. I'm in Cape Cod. When should I prune them?

Madeline

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger Mel said...

I would love to contact Marie from Utah since I live in Utah and want to find people with Nikko Blue Hydrangeas. Is there any way that I could get in contact with her?

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Sorry, Mel - I know of no way to contact her, since she doesn't appear to have a blogger profile.

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my gardener wants to plant 20 nikko blues right in front of my house in the full shade. I am worried they will get way too big in front of my windows!!! can I keep them at a high I like which is about 3-4 ft tall???

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Lucky you, Anonymous! That'll be a glorious show, for sure. Yes, you can easily keep them to 3-4 feet. Just remember to prune them at the end of their blooming cycle, not in the spring before they bloom, or they won't bloom that summer for you.

 
At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mary, hoping you can help me. I planted a Nikko blue last summer and it did well. I am in NH and right now (May) it looks like a stick bush with very little new green growth at the ground (1") The sticks are not brittle and breaking (they bend). We had a mild winter and frost in early April which I am thinking might be the problem. How should I care for it this summer? Thank you.

 
At 6:48 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Anonymous -- if you scratch the surface of the sticks, are they green underneath the top layer? If so, then your plant is still alive and you just need to leave it be. Be sure to water it during the hot, dry days of summer, but other than that, leave it alone. No pruning. Fertilize this fall.

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Lynsie said...

Hi Mary, I live in Ogden, UT, I believe zone 6a. I have tried for years to grow hydrangea with no luck at all. I know a few people who have them very prominently growing here. They are no help however since they moved into a home that already had them planted. Any suggestions?

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Hi Lynsie,

What exactly is happening after you plant them? Where are you planting them? Are they getting enough water? How's the soil?

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

My Nikko blues grew to about 6-7 feet, had a hugh amount of flowers that were so heavy that they dragged the branches to the ground. Since I have eight bushes, it was a great effort to tie them all up. The next year I cut them back by about 1/3. Although I got fewer flowers, at least I didn't have to tie them up. I am in Cape Cod, and hydrangeas seem to be very popular here. They get plenty of sun and are well watered. Do you think I should cut them back every year?

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger melabzzz said...

Lynsie,

I am in Orem and I have ten hydrangeas. Nikko doesn't do well in this state but you can plant the Endless Summer variety which is a re bloomer (blooms on old AND new wood). Amend your soil with compost before you plant and winter protect it the first and maybe second winter. They flower pink here unless you add some sulfur.

Once established I water the once a week and three times a week in the summer. They require little care after establishing just water and some admiration. You can also try Annabel or Limelight as they are hardier but require more sun.

 
At 12:39 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I planted a Nikko in part shade/sun and while it grows it does not get very big. I realized I pruned it at the wrong time so that's why it's not blooming very much - but the plant itself is barely 2 feet high. I was hoping for a bigger plant - any advice? (Zone 6 - southwestern Ontario, Canada)

 
At 9:01 PM, Blogger Mary said...

I think you answered your own question - don't prune it - it doesn't really need it anyway. And, you're trying to grow it probably a bit north of its hardiness range - I think it's only hardy to zone 7. So, leave it alone, maybe only fertilizing in spring & fall with Hollytone, and see how it does.

 

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