Nearly 200 hydrangea enthusiasts filled the lecture hall on  May 20th at the Augusta Technical College in Thomson, Georgia to hear Donna Heaton, Director of the Center for Applied Nursery Research, open the second National Hydrangea Conference.  Attendees came from various parts of the United States and Europe, and included growers, importers, hybridizers, plant collectors, landscapers, extension agents, and master gardeners.  The focus of attention was a review of the current research on various aspects of hydrangea culture being carried out at the University of Georgia and the Center for Applied Nursery Research, under the direction of Dr. Michael Dirr.  
Most had taken advantage of the opportunity the day before to tour the Horticulture Farm, hydrangea shade garden, and Experiment Station at the University of Georgia in Athens.  Dr. Dirr’s grad students and research assistants were on hand to explain the status of ongoing research projects.  The main breeding effort is focusing on incorporating remontancy (the ability of hydrangeas to bloom on current year’s growth), cold hardiness, and mildew resistance.
The speakers list on Friday and Saturday read like a “Who’s Who” of the hydrangea world, and included Ted Stephens, Nurseries Caroliniana; Sandra Reed, U.S. National Arboretum; Jonathan Pedersen, Bailey Nurseries; Eddie Aldridge, Aldridge Gardens; Elizabeth Dean, Wilkerson Mill Gardens; Penny McHenry, American Hydrangea Society Founder; and Dr. Michael Dirr, among others.  Topics covered included breeding techniques to develop desirable characteristics in hydrangeas, the strategy behind the marketing of Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’, and collecting native hydrangea species in Asia.
A tour of the Center for Applied Nursery Research (CANR) rounded out the conference on Saturday afternoon.  CANR is a great example of a symbiotic working relationship between industry and academic research.  The land and facilities are provided by McCorkle Nursery, but operated by the Augusta Technical College and the University of Georgia.  The purpose of the facility is to provide an opportunity for research on woody ornamentals and hydrangeas in a field nursery environment.  The field layout, irrigation and shading techniques are identical to the adjacent open field nursery can yard.  The research results developed in the Center are immediately applicable to commercial nursery production.  Although the Center is operated in cooperation with McCorkle Nursery, the research results are published and available to nurseries industry-wide.
During the tour of CANR, Warner Orozco, UGA graduate student, discussed his research findings related to “Effect of Pruning Time on Growth and Development of Re-Flowering Hydrangea macrophylla Cultivars”; and Dr. Jim Midcap, UGA faculty, discussed his research results on “Hydrangea Flower Color Management and Forcing Trials for Early Season Blooming on Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars.”
For more information about the University of Georgia hydrangea research programs or to have your name put on the list to be contacted about future conferences, contact Donna Heaton, Director, Center for Applied Nursery Research, 4904 Luckey’s Bridge Road, SE, Dearing GA 30808.  Email: [email protected].  CANR research projects can be reviewed at

Cut Stem Field Day

The University of Kentucky hosted a Cut Stem Field Day June 15th, to showcase evaluations of several woody plants used for cut flowers.  More than 100 cultivars of Hydrangea macrophylla are tested under varying conditions of pruning, irrigation, and shade.  Hydrangea production in containers, and the application of aluminum sulfate are investigated, as well as stem yield, stem length, and flower color.  Peony, bittersweet, forsythia, lilac, willow, nandina and callicarpa are also included in the trials.  Kent Miles of Botanicals by K & V sent these photos.

Salix, Ilex and Cornus.

Hydrangeas on second year of drip irrigation.

Bittersweet trained on various diameters of pvc pipes.

Hoophouses with 55% shade cloth, one-gallon

Container-grown hydrangeas in hoophouse.

Hydrangea ‘Harlequin/Buttons ‘n’ Bows’.