Ask the Gardener: Hydrangeas, pachysandra and hellebores

Posted on: February 10, 2020 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens 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
  • 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.)


Question 1: Hydrangeas

Christine: During a recent nice day, I was out front looking at my hydrangeas. Two of the three bloomed beautifully last year. The one closest to me literally had one sad bloom all year and currently has green “buds” on the sticks. Question is, should I move that one, or cut back the sticks to try to stimulate flowering? I think I trimmed the flowers/sticks of the other two last year but left that one alone since it had buds on the end. Any advice is appreciated!

Doug: You don’t want to trim the one at the bottom of the photo, as you would cut off the buds, which in turn means cutting off the flowers. As long as the buds don’t get eaten by deer or frozen, your hydrangeas will bloom for you.

Question 2: Pachysandra

Rob: I have a number of pachysandra patches around my house, garage and veggie gardens. This spring I plan to expand one area considerably. They’re rather costly. Could I take cuttings now and start them inside? What’s the best way? Then, to completely cover the new area, how close should I plant them?

Doug: If you have experience taking cuttings, you could make more plants. With pachysandra though, I think it would be easier to divide the clumps you have, digging them up from the edges and moving them to the spots you want them.

The plant is easy to root if you do choose cuttings. Take a look at this video; it will show you the basics of taking cuttings.

hellebore hydrangeas

Question 3: Hellebores and ferns

Mark: I have two new hellebores that I planted last spring that are sending up buds now. When should I remove last year’s growth? They’re coming up through the leaf mulch I put down in the fall, and I don’t want to damage them by moving the mulch or cutting the old growth back too early. Also, I put in two autumn ferns last spring and they’ve stayed green all winter thus far. I usually cut back the dead growth from my ferns in late February or early March when I put down the first spread of compost and mulch. Do I leave the green on these and just let them fill in with newer fiddleheads, or should I cut these back like the rest?

Doug: I leave the foliage on my hellebores alone, but it’s common practice to remove it as the buds start to open. That’s when I would do that job. As far as the ferns are concerned, as long as they are green, let them be.

Previous mailbags

Sprouting garlic, growing spinach and a money tree

Bug hotels, knockout roses and lime bushes

Winterberry, termites and zoysia grass

Hellebore, moles, hyacinth and more

Sunflowers, lemon trees and plantain leaves

Starting milkweed, greenhouses and petunias

Peace lily problems, amaryllis and planting trees

Growing peanuts, houseplant recommendations, gourds and more

Protecting roses, planting bulbs and zebra grass

Poinsettia problems, avocado tree, voles and more

More from Everybody Gardens

See also, Tips On How To Grow Succulents Indoors

Follow us on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Shop special Everybody Garden products today!