Q: Is there a new type of Endless Summer hydrangea? It’s the type that blooms either pink or blue depending on the soil pH. I saw a hydrangea in an Endless Summer blue pot at a garden center but it was labeled ‘Bella Anna,’ and showed pink blooms only. H. C. Lebanon.
A: There is an Endless Summer Hydrangea series, a collection of cultivars. Current labeling is calling the original as Endless Summer, The Original. ‘Bella Anna,’ which is in the Endless Summer series, is not even the same species as the original Endless Summer, which is Hydrangea macrophylla. ‘Bella Anna’ is Hydrangea arborescens, which is an ‘AnnaBelle’ type. ‘Bella Anna’ has pink flowers only. It does not change flower color with the pH as does ‘Endless Summer’ The Original. To add to the confusion, there is also a pink blooming Annabelle type, (Hydrangea arborescens) named Invincible Spirit. It is sold under the Proven Winners plant brand, not the Endless Summer collection.
Q: Can blueberries be grown in the Zionsville area? I don’t see them grown here as they are in northwestern Indiana. W. B. Zionsville.
A: Most Boone County and Central Indiana garden soil is not good blueberry soil, so modification of the soil is usually necessary. Blueberries have specific needs: acid soil (4.0-5.5), high organic matter, good moisture but well drained. You need to cultivars for cross pollination. Birds can be a problem by eating the berries,
To acidify soil: use sulfur compounds. For 50 cubic feet of loam to clay loam soil (the amount of soil in a space 10 feet by 10 feet by 6 inches), use 3 to 6 pounds of elemental sulfur (soil sulfur) to reduce the pH one point. Elemental sulfur takes at least one year to adjust the pH.
Iron sulfate reacts much faster than elemental sulfur (less than one month); however, the cost is greater. Multiply the rate of elemental sulfur needed by six to determine the required amount of iron sulfate. Aluminum sulfate is similar to iron sulfate, but high amounts can be toxic to roots.
Prepare a raised blueberry planting area where soil is poorly drained and/or too basic to be acidified. For two plants, create a raised planting bed 15 inches deep by 24 inches wide by 48 inches long. Fill with a soil mixture of four bushels well-rotted sawdust, leaf mold, or peat; two bushels loam soil; and two cups wettable sulfur. As this soil settles and decomposes over the years, you will need to continue adding sulfur, soil and peat to the planting bed.
Onions in the Garden
Q: I’m a beginning onion gardener. I planted onion plants this spring for the first time. The onions are growing but the bulbs (onions) themselves are partially out of the ground. Should I put soil over them? J.S. Zionsville.
A: Onions develop so that as much as 2/3 of the bulb remains out of the soil. This is normal and there is no need to cover the bulb with soil. Onions are nearing harvest time when the tops begin to fall over.
You can break over the tops that haven’t fallen to encourage drying of the neck. Leave them a few days and then dig the onions. Temporarily store them in a dry, well-ventilated area for a week or two before cutting the tops to insure the necks are completely dry.
The two sweetest onions I’ve found to grow are ‘Yellow Granex’ (the Vidalia type) and ‘Candy.’ We’ve got a decent sized row of each that we planted in late March this year. Both have done equally well.
Doug Akers is an Extension Educator for the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Agriculture & Natural Resources department. He can be reached at (765) 482-0750.