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07/23/10 1:04PM By Charlie Nardozzi
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AP/Koji Sasahara

I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Grandma's flowers are back! I associate blue mophead hydrangeas with sweet elderly ladies in white clapboard houses. But these old fashioned flowers have a new following with the advent of hardier varieties.

Endless Summer Blue, Forever and Ever Red, and the new Forever and Ever lacecap are some of the recent introductions that can flower in Vermont. Unlike earlier varieties, these mopheads bloom on the old and new wood, so even if the plant dies back to the ground in winter, the new growth will produce blossoms the next year. This year the flowers are forming later than usual in many gardens because a May freeze killed many flower buds on the old wood.

To keep your mophead hydrangea happy plant it in part to full sun on well-drained soil amended with compost. Hydrangea flower colors can be altered depending on the pH. An acidic soil creates a deep blue flower, while an alkaline soil promotes a pink flower.  Keep plants mulched and well watered as they will quickly wilt in the heat of summer. Only prune mophead hydrangeas in spring to remove dead growth. Pruning after July will remove flower buds for next year.

Now for this week's tip.  There's a sucker born every minute - a tomato sucker that is. Remove new tomato suckers from indeterminate plants now. These suckers won't have time to mature fruit before a frost and will just take energy away from the other fruit. 

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about melons!  For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

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