Panicle hydrangeas typically have cone-shaped flowers. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Sun-loving hydrangeas for a hot spot

Q: We are wanting to put hydrangeas on the side of our house. But it gets sunshine from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. What kind do we need? Michael Tate, email

A: Sunshine at that time of day can be pretty hot for traditional mophead hydrangeas in summer. I think they would really suffer. But there are some hydrangeas that love sunshine and bloom from midsummer to fall! The smaller varieties of panicle hydrangea, like Strawberry Sundae or Little Lime, would work well. Also consider Mini Mauvette and Wee White. Remember that hydrangeas lose their leaves in winter. Plant some evergreen shrubs to mix with your hydrangeas and give visual interest in winter.

Q: Our newly-purchased 110-year-old home is surrounded by white oaks. We’ve noticed the oaks are dropping sap on our cars. Is this raining of sap normal? Marsha Kellum, Jefferson

A: I very much doubt that actual tree sap is coming down from your oak. The more likely source is a small infestation of scale insects or possibly aphids. Both of these creatures suck sap from leaves and twigs and excrete what they cannot immediately digest. This honeydew falls from the tree as small droplets. So, in a sense, tree sap IS accumulating on your vehicles … but it passed through an insect’s gut before falling. There is usually no need to control these insects. Natural predators will do an adequate job for you.

Q: With the seed heads now evident in my centipede lawn, is it okay to compost the clippings or will my compost be full of grass sprouts next spring? Tad Stephens, email

A: Typical centipede grass lawns do not produce many viable seeds on the seedheads. Centipede grass is quite variable in how many seeds each plant produces and how many of them will germinate. The seed is thinly covered in wax, which resists germination. Seeds quickly die if they dry for just a short time after they sprout. You probably know that even commercial centipede grass varieties, like ‘TifBlair’, take a long time to germinate for this and other reasons. I don’t think you need to worry about grass in your compost.

Q: We just seeded a bermuda lawn earlier this year and it’s growing very well so far. How often I can fertilize it without risking damage? I really want to get as much coverage as possible before it goes dormant. Adam Coco, Ball Ground

A: I don’t know if you have noticed, but lawns have started slowing their growth rate. Some of it is due to the heat but some of it is due to changing day length. At this point of the year, adding lots more fertilizer won’t increase growth substantially. I recommend you fertilizer one time between now and mid-September but nothing after September 15.

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