Garden News: Hydrangeas are Mother’s Day gift that lasts

Potted hydrangeas are popular gifts for Mother’s Day, and they can be a gift that lasts. Once their flowers fade, these gift plants can be planted outside where they will provide beautiful flowers for years to come, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.

Deciduous shrubs originally native to Japan, hydrangeas need an evenly moist soil and are intolerant of dry conditions. Allowing hydrangeas to wilt excessively, either in pots or in the ground, will shorten the flower life and can cause the foliage to develop scorched edges.

Display your potted hydrangeas in a bright, sunny window and make sure the plant does not wilt. When the flowers begin to look unattractive, cut off the flower heads and plant the shrub in an appropriate location in your landscape.

A shady or partly shaded bed is ideal, Gill says. Avoid hot, sunny, dry areas or beds that are baked by the afternoon sun. Morning sun is preferred, so an eastern exposure is excellent.

You asked

Once my potato vines begin to yellow and die back, should I continue to water the plants or allow the soil to stay dry? I know growing potatoes can cause problems with the soil, so can I plant okra on that row once I dig my potatoes up and have a successful okra crop? – Amanda

Irish potatoes usually require 90 to 110 days from planting to harvest. Healthy plants will remain dark green until harvest. If the vines have died back after the 90 or so days, then yes, quit watering and start harvesting.

Generally speaking, potatoes will not cause problems for a following crop unless they are heavily infected with a disease or infested with insects that would attack your next crop. Okra should be fine following potatoes. Do not apply any more fertilizer to the row because okra requires very little. — LSU AgCenter horticulturist Kiki Fontenot

Is there a variety of raspberry plant that can tolerate the summers in Baton Rouge? — Patricia

Dorman Red is the only variety of raspberry recommended for south Louisiana. However, even this variety will not produce heavy yields. We just don’t live in a raspberry growing area. But one or two plants in the backyard are fun if you can harvest the berries before the birds do! — Kiki Fontenot

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews @agcenter.lsu.edu.