Blush­ing mop­head

Garden Answers (UK) - - Problems Solved -

Q Why did white flow­ers turn pink on my 18-year-old mop­head this year? G F MOBSBY, BY EMAIL A White hy­drangeas have a ten­dency to de­velop a pink tinge as the flow­ers age or when ex­posed to strong sun­light and in­tense heat. So, your plant be­haved much as ex­pected in the hot sum­mer. De­pend­ing on the weather next sum­mer your plant will prob­a­bly flower as nor­mal, with pris­tine white blooms. Q Am I too late to plant out a pot­ted hy­drangea? K MOR­GAN, BY EMAIL A Pot­ted hy­drangeas can be planted out at any time, pro­vided the soil isn’t frozen or wa­ter­logged. The best time to do it is in au­tumn be­cause it’s eas­ier to keep them moist while they es­tab­lish, un­like when plant­ing out in sum­mer. You can add some slow-act­ing fer­tiliser to the plant­ing hole now or use a gen­eral plant food in spring or sum­mer. Q How should I treat fluffy white bugs on stems and leaves? AU­DREY JAMIESON, BY EMAIL, AND VERON­ICA MOORE, NOR­FOLK A Hy­drangea scale in­sects will suck sap and weaken the plant, de­posit­ing a sticky sub­stance called hon­ey­dew that falls onto lower leaves and is colonised by black, sooty mould. The adults look like tiny brown limpets on stems and leaf un­der­sides but when they re­lease their eggs they leave a white, waxy cot­tony ma­te­rial in which the eggs and lar­vae hide. Spray the plant with Re­solva Bug Killer (£4.50 for 1L spray) sev­eral times to con­trol them. Q Why hasn’t my hy­drangea ‘Run­away Bride’ flow­ered? PA­TRI­CIA JONES, BY EMAIL A Hy­drangea ‘Run­away Bride’, Chelsea Plant of the Year 2018, is renowned for its freeflow­er­ing habit with white blooms pro­duced on arch­ing shoots, so I ex­pect your plant didn’t flower this sum­mer be­cause it was too young. The yel­low­ing leaves may be the re­sult of sim­ple au­tumn coloura­tion but it could also be that it needed more feed­ing dur­ing growth. It’s best not to prune it at all this first sea­son, but re­pot it in spring and feed it more of­ten. Q When’s the best time to move a rooted cut­ting I planted this year? P DELLEA, LON­DON A As with all hardy shrubs, it’s best to move your hy­drangea cut­ting while it’s dor­mant, be­tween Oc­to­ber and March.

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