Doug’s mailbag: Moving a hydrangea, hibiscus and succulents

Posted on: July 13, 2018 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Gardening editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

• Email askdoug@535mediallc.com

• Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site

• Send us a message on Facebook.

(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)

• • •

Sherry: I have to move a big hydrangea that has been in the same spot for about 10 years. How do I do it with the least amount of damage to the plant?

Doug: First question, does it HAVE to be moved? I know that seems like a dumb question, but that’s where we should start. If the answer is yes, the best time to do this is in the fall when things cool off. Mid-September would be just about right. In doing this, there’s a good chance the plant will have trouble blooming next year. The ideal location is morning sun and afternoon shade. Dig your planting hole first and amend it with compost. Now comes the hard part. Using a tree spade get the biggest rootball you can handle, and it’s going to be substantial. This should be done on a cool day, hopefully with rain in the forecast. Get a friend to help you move the plant to the new location. Be sure not to plant it too deep and then water until the ground freezes. Good luck!

• • •

Leslie: While we’re on the subject of transplanting … last year I purchased three hibiscus (I know that they have “real” names” … lol) plants of different types. I put them in the ground in the fall, just to get them into the ground before winter. I thought they were dead this past spring, but they’ve taken off and are growing. They’re not where I’d like them to be forever, so when can I move them? (I love getting your advice, Doug Oster, … it’s wonderful to have someone to ask!

Doug: If you can wait until the fall when they are done blooming, they would be happy to be moved then.

• • •

This is ‘Invincibelle Spirit,’ an Annabelle type of hydrangea, which is a reliable bloomer.

This is ‘Invincibelle Spirit,’ an Annabelle type of hydrangea, which is a reliable bloomer.

Jeanne: I have not pruned three of my hydrangeas, and they have not bloomed the last two years. They are the big blue flowers when they bloom. My lace caps are full of blooms. Any help or thoughts?

Doug: It’s probably bud freeze. The buds on standard mopheads swell, but then we get hit with a cold spell. I’ve been surrounding mine in the winter with burlap and have had better luck with blooms. I’m transitioning though to Annabelle varieties and other types that bloom on wood from the spring as opposed to those that flower on old wood.

• • •

Judith: Would Hens & Chickens & other succulents survive over winter in a large cement planter?

Doug: Hens and chicks will most probably overwinter, especially if given a protected spot. It depends on what kind of other succulent you choose. Some are not hardy.

• • •

Previous mailbags

Lilies, Brussels sprouts and septoria leaf spot

Garlic harvest, cucumber beetles, spindly tomatoes and more

Bladdernut, fungus gnats, rose black spot and more

Poison ivy, black-eyed Susans and container mix

Cucumber beetles, hot pepper plants and planting potatoes

Zebra grass, pale vegetables and yellow nutsedge

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”