The Q&A Archives: heat tolerant flowering plants

Question: I want to plant Hydrangea's. How do I increase the PH so I get the blue or lavender flowers? I have two lilac bushes in large pots. Last year they burned because of the high heat in my back yard. I want to plant them in the ground now, but what should I look for in picking their sites because of the high heat & sun exposure? My vegetables all read full sun, but they always burn. I have no shade in my small back yard. How can I save my plants & lilac trees?

Answer: If you want to grow tender plants in your garden but you don't have any shade, you might want to invest in some shade screen (sold by the running yard in hardware stores). You can erect a trellis or frame and stretch the shade cloth over the frame to provide afternoon shade to your plants. You might also want to plant a few trees now so that in a few years you'll have more shade in your yard.

To obtain a blue hydrangea, aluminum must be present in the soil. To ensure that aluminum is present, aluminum sulfate may be added to the soil around the hydrangeas.

Authorities recommend that a solution of 1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) aluminum sulfate per gallon of water be applied to plants (which are at least 2-3 years old) throughout the growing season. Important: Water plants well in advance of application and put solution on cautiously, as too much can burn the roots.

To make the aluminum available to the plant, the pH of the soil should be low (5.2-5.5). Adding aluminum sulfate will tend to lower the pH of the soil. Another method for lowering the pH is to add organic matter to the soil such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings etc.

Best wishes with your garden!

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