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Perennials/Hydrangea and a houseplant


QUESTION: Hi , I was given a plant from a friend in July . I had planned on planting it soon after . Now it seems our fall may be early and I don't know if it is too late to plant it now ?
Does it have a chance? I am disappointed in myself . I love plants.
I thought that it would need to have time to establish a good root system before winter in order to make it ? What can I do ?

Also , I have a houseplant,a peace lily I believe , brought home from my mothers funeral in 2011 . I have watched the amount of leaves dwindle to about 6-8 and it is only about 8 inches tall now,if that. It was dense but was still a pretty young plant , no taller than about 8-10 inches when I'd gotten it. I do not over water it , but just do not know what to do with it to get it to grow.Can you help ?
Thanks for any advise !

ANSWER: Greetings, Ross,

Firstly, please stop beating yourself up! No gardener is perfect!

I am intrigued by what you say about your hydrangea because a client of mine received a gift hydrangea about when you did, left it in the pot in full sun and it was drying up and burning. I moved it into the shade, watered it, and planted it. It is now doing well.

I have a question for you - what zone are you in? And is it in a pot? If it is in a pot it has its entire root system. Have you kept it outdoors? If so, it is hardened off.If you are in zone 5 or warmer, and it is in a pot, and it has been kept outdoors get that plant into the ground NOW! Find a semi-shady spot, keep it watered regularly, and do not use any fertilizer. If the conditions are different please write back. And do not prune off the spent flowers. Wait until spring.

My mother, before she passed away in 2002, was given two huge peace lilies. I kept them very nicely growing, and blooming, but lost them when I moved in 2011. I have since bought small ones.I lost the first one to over watering. The second is much better because I give it limited water every three days or so.

I found that peace lilies, being the kind of plants that are on the ground in nature, do not like direct sunlight. Put it in a bright space where it gets little to no direct sun. Peace lilies can easily be overwatered. They are very subject to root rot. Make sure the container you have it in has good drainage. Check the soil before you water it, because they actually like to be a bit dry.  Once it seems to stabilize, you can start fertilizing it every six to eight weeks. They take well to this kind of fertilizing even in winter.

Is this helpful? If you have any more questions or concerns please feel free to write back.

Best wishes,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi , thanks for responding. The information was helpful. I have had the Hydrangea in the pot this whole time .I have brought it in in the evenings because it was getting to about 45+ degrees at night. However , I set it out in partial sun during the day .I am on the left side of the state of Va . I guess it's either zone 5 or 6 .Any other info. you can add ?
Thank you very much !

Dear Ross,

This is perfect!

If you are in Virginia, you are a zone where there will be no problems. You can feel confident that your hydrangea is hardy there, and can go through the winter outside. It can probably handle temperatures below 0. You have it in partial sun?  Perfect! Plant it in a similar location.

And yes, do plant it. It probably would like to get out of that pot! The whole root system is there, so if you want to be really nice to it, dig a hole, put some fully matured compost into it, mix it with the soil that you dug out, plant the hydrangea at the level that it was in the pot. If the roots are circling or tangled, rough them up a bit to stop them from circling in the ground and not reaching out into the soil.

Then water it well. Go out every two or three days and water it (more like 2 if it's hot - that's what I did here in July). Don't cut it back in case it blooms on old wood. No fertilizer now. Save that for the spring.

If only everyone was as careful as you are with your plants! The world would be a greener place.

Again, if you have more questions, please do not hesitate to write.




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Donna Mack


I am a Master Gardener through the University of Illinois Extension.I can answer questions about pest control, especially voles, rabbits, chipmunks and slugs, and have done so on Dave's Garden Watchdog under the name DonnaMack since 2002. I have a lot of expertise with ornamental grasses, hardy roses and old garden roses, minor bulbs such as ornigothalem, chionodoxa and allium as well as most types of lilies. I lived in a conservaton community and have great familiarity with native plants. I am knowledgeable about organic methods and I grow perennials, annuals and vegetables from seed.


I have been gardening since 1998 and have raised roses, peonies, annuals and perennials (the latter two from seed), and numerous shrubs and trees, many of which I have planted. I am familiar with many organic techniques and use as many as I can but know the chemical solutions, which are most benign and how to use them. I LOVE gardening, and I get great satisfaction with helping others so that they reach the state of joy that gardening can bring to those inclined to it.

The American Lily Society and the Wisconsin Illinois Lily Society

I have numerous entries in Garden Watchdog under the name DonnaMack. I write three to four columns a year for the Kane County Chronicle. I also write articles for Daves Garden Watchdog.

I successfully completed the University of Illinois Master Gardening Program in March of 2013 and have maintained my certification every year since. I did this to augment extensive self study through books (I've probably read 100) and an arts degree, which helps with aesthetics. I am purely an amateur, but one who studies, reads, and documents extensively. My gardening log began in 2000, and has hundreds of entries, so that I can use my successes and failures to assist other gardeners.

Awards and Honors
The University of Illinois created a Team with Work Award for master gardeners who work together to create what they regard as an outstanding project. I won this award as part of a group that created "The Idea Garden", which suggests plants for home growers to attempt to grow. My personal contribution was salvias - ornamental and culinary hardy and tender perennials, which I grew from seed and tended through the season. I have recently been asked to join the Speakers Bureau, which would require me to present topics to various groups under the auspices of the Master Gardening program.

Past/Present Clients
I am currently overseeing and performing the maintenance of ten gardens in a suburbs of Chicago.

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