There two types of hedges that are grown in gardens or front and back yards of properties.
i. Ornamental hedge: These types of hedges are made for aesthetic purposes and add a touch of creativity to the piece of nature in your garden. The hedges can come I two basic varieties- non-flowering plants and flowering plants. Both have their unique features and blend well with the overall theme.
ii. Security hedges: Rather than for beauty purposes, they serve as a barrier of protection for the property. They too can have flowering and non-flowering plants.
Experienced hedge makers use two ideas to create the two types of hedges. The first is to simply plant the selected greenery and wait for them to grow to prune beautiful shapes. The second method is making a foundation wall of wood or concrete and getting them covered with hedge plants.
Maintaining is the Key
Despite the type of hedge in your garden, taking proper care of the hedge plants is what matters. Many subtle things play a great role in a great hedge. This is all the more important when the hedge is made of flowering plants.
We will first discuss the five cardinal practices keeping your hedge last longer and look appealing
The Five Rules for Flowering Hedges
These five rules apply to all hedges irrespective of the types of plants used to make them.
1. The Size of Your Flowering Hedge
Make a blueprint of your hedge for your information. Go out into the actual location and decide upon the exact position, height, and width of the proposed hedge.
Let us have a look at the parameters for deciding the dimensions:
For easy maintenance, experienced gardeners keep the height at eye level. This can be translated as 5.5 ft to 6 ft, depending upon the heights of the persons in the household. Even if a shorter person wants to tend to your flowering hedges, a ladder will do the trick.
Most hedges have e width of three feet. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make a broader hedge.
c. The Growing Habit
After you get a fairly good idea about the size of the hedge, decide upon the type of plants. The plants should grow to ‘fastigiate’ or in a ‘columnar’ way referring to their natural growth patterns.
It is a wise choice to plant shrubs that don’t need a great amount of shearing. A few good selections of evergreens include:
iii. Western arborvitae.
iv. Eastern red cedar.
v. Fastigiate white pine.
Common flowering hedges are:
ii. Rose of Sharon.
iii. Rugosa roses.
v. Crape myrtle.
2. The Importance of Pruning
There is a misconception that the purpose of pruning is to maintain the shape of the hedge. The foremost reason for shearing or pruning is to enable the plants to grow new shoots. Then, of course, regular pruning maintains a neat and tidy flowering hedge while stimulating sprouts.
As more buds emerge, your hedge will become thicker preventing the entry of sunlight inside. This results in a hollow hedge which is green outside and hollow inside. The trick lies in careful shearing to let sunlight inside and also to use shears to nip off internal twigs.
How Gardeners Do it
Good gardeners reach inside the hedge at regular intervals and hold the shears at an angle of 45 degrees and cut off some branches to make space for air and sunlight.
The Three Year Rule
In the case of old hedges that have rigorous overgrowth need special pruning to remove stubborn parts. This needs to be repeated for three consecutive years. The process involves cutting off nearly one-third of the thickest trunk close to the bottom of the shrubs. This will result in a fresh, fit, and small hedge.
3. Winter Pruning
The most suitable time for shearing your hedges is in late winter. Usually, plants don’t break shoots at this time of the year as they are supine due to the climate.
The best time to prune evergreens is earlier in the season.
Tip: Wait till the blooms of the flowering hedge become brown to prune. This will result in more flowers that are healthy.
4. Wider Bottoms and Narrow Tops
A reversed ‘V’ shape should be the result of pruning by an experienced hand. If you leave the shrubs to grow naturally, they will attain maximum growth at the top. The top portion receives maximum sunlight resulting in more budding. Your hedge will be broader on top forming a natural ‘V’ shape. We will reverse this shape by shearing the top to be narrow. A narrow top can have any of the below shapes:
The direction of Shearing
Begin at the bottom and go up for each section. Beginners can tie strings along the hedge at the top, middle, and bottom for precision pruning.
5. Privacy Plants Vs Flowering Hedges
The purpose of hedges is aesthetics and artistry. They don’t usually rise more than eight feet. Screening plants on the contrary can grow up to 30 feet and are wider than hedges. the point is do not expect a lot of privacy within hedges.
Before moving on to the nutritional aspects of flowering hedges let us look at a few popular exotic plants to choose from:
ii. Star jasmine.
iii. Ulex europaeus.
iv. Olearia x haasstii.
v. Californian Lilac.
vi. Escallonia rubra.
vii. Potentilla fruticosa.
viii. Rosa rugosa.
Troubleshooting for Hedges that Didn’t Flower
The most common reasons why a flowering hedge failed to bloom can be due to one or more of the following:
Pruning at an Inappropriate Time
We already discussed the right time of the year to undertake to shear. Pruning a flowering hedge at any other time will result in sapping out their energy meant for new growth.
Fertilizers with high nitrogen content are great for green growth but will have its toll on flowers. Plants need phosphorous to produce more flowers.
Quantity of Feed
Flowering shrubs need fertilizers for three to five years. This is the time they need to get set on the new ground. After maturing, they will become adept at absorbing the required food from the soil. It is always a good practice to provide nutrient mixed water.
Lack of Sun
Ensure that the flowering hedge gets maximum sunlight for better blooming prowess.
Fluctuating Weather Conditions
A sudden return of warm weather can trick the plants out of hibernation to bloom. If the weather gets back to a colder temperature, the new blooms will wither. Don’t worry about this, it is only a temporary phenomenon.
Any plant will blossom only at their natural ages for the genus to bloom. So, don’t lose hope for healthy shrubs that didn’t blossom.
Expert Planting Advice
The topsoil should be mixed with organic fertilizer to maintain moisture. Make a 2 to 3-inch thick blanket around the plant base using compost to prevent lawn grass from invading the area.
Best Watering Practices
Following the below instructions for proper watering will give long-lasting results in your garden.
Water newly planted flowering shrubs every week in the absence of rain. Start by soaking the soil thoroughly and following it up with a slowly flowing hose on the ground for five to ten minutes till the soil is thoroughly soaked.
Tip: Use a soaker hose to save time and also efficient soaking of the soil.
Scientific Feeding Practices
Never give fertilizer to new shrubs. It will weaken its constitution and growth. Plant the new shrubs in soil mixed with organic compost rich in micro-nutrients. Ensure that the soil has enough moisture to help the saplings remain fresh.
Support for Shrubs
Some varieties of flowering shrubs may need staking for a year or two to keep them upright. The correct depth for driving the stake into the soil is 1.5 feet. Make sure that it is kept at least six inches away from the planting hole. Wrap old garden hose around the wire and tie the tree to the stake using an 8 shaped knot.
Tip: If you tie too tight, the wire can cut into the bark as the tree grows.
‘How to Care’- in a Nutshell
Beautiful and eye-catching flowering hedges are the results of patient care. The good practices we learned above can be summed up as:
i. The right soil and moisture for planting.
ii. Plant at the right time of year.
iii. Follow right watering practices.
iv. Use the correct fertilizers according to the age of the shrubs.
v. Pruning is done to promote new shoots. Remove old and dead stems from the inside for better air and light. Maintain a reverse ‘V’ shape for the hedge. vi. Learn the correct flowering ages of each species. This will let you know the shrubs aren’t flowering due to any illness, but waiting to mature.