If you have a question about gardening in the Birmingham area, ask John. John Floyd has been gardening–and learning about gardening–for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience in the garden, John has degrees in horticulture, plant taxonomy, and plant physiology from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.
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Florist type hydrangeas should be pruned now as the new growth this fall is where they will bloom next year. It is so late now I would not reduce their size over about a fourth. All of the other Hydrangea types I would not prune until late winter before any foliage appears. As for Carolina Jessamine, it can be done anytime but to prevent bloom loss prune after they finish flowering in the spring.
Trim is the right word or maybe a light shape is ok now except on old-English box and I would be very careful with old American Boxwood,too. Removal of awkward branches or new growth is fine.
No, but more than likely this year the blooms were affected by the late freeze. Also, it may be just too young to put on any fruit. You do not need another one to produce fruit, but in this region my experience is that they are not heavy producers.
I am sorry you are having such a problem. Seems like you have tried most things. Soapy water sprayed on the leaves followed by a strong hose spray many times helps reduce them initially. Then hose spraying when you water will keep the majority of them off the plant. While not a control, it works to limit the amount on the plants.
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My first guest would be the old fashioned Gardenias. they are very fragrant and blooming great this year
Break them off at the base of the flower stem after the color fades on the blooms.
I would prune it as soon as possible. But if you plan to take it down more than a third, I suggest you do it over several years. If you just want to take a couple of feet off of it and reshape it, I think it is ok to do that now. Fertilize following severe pruning to encourage new growth.
Sulfur certainly works, but a little goes a long way. If you only need a slight adjustment, use a ferilier that only puts nitrogen into the soil around the plants. Over time this will very, very slowly help. If you want to use sulfur, I suggest you buy the product that turns hyrangeas blue, and apply according to their directions.
Good to know and thanks for offering it
I am afraid that I do not have a magic cure. Aeration in spring helps, as well as an early application of nitrogen to the lawn can also help, but do not apply before green-up. Nothing beats having a healthy, active, growing lawn with the controls you have in place.
My friend, the late Weesie Smith’s started blooming in early summer, and if we pinched off the old spent flowers, they bloomed all summer.
I really like them planted in a mass in part shade in the garden. While they will do okay in a container, they have a root structure that is going to fill the pot quickly, so it will take a lot of watering this summer. Either planted in the garden or growing in a large container is okay.
see answer below
It depends on how high you want the screen. One of my favorite 20 plus foot screens is Nellie R. Stevens holly. They grow very well in the Birmingham metro area. For screens larger than 30 feet, you will need a small evergreen tree. Those not sensitive to drought are not common in our area, so you might want to try cryptomeria, but they will require water.