It’s always a good day for the team when we can take a minute to talk about some of our favorite plants. Fall is a fantastic time to plant, and an even better time to admire the landscape. We put pen to paper and came up with a few of our favorite Autumn plants. If you don’t see yours let us know, we love to know what you are planting!

• American Dogwood- Native tree with fantastic red fall color and interesting fruit set.

• Annual Mums- Everybody’s favorite fall flower that come in a wide range of colors and shapes.

• Japanese Anemone- Long blooming, deer resistant, clumping perennial at home in sun or shade.

• Little Quick Fire Hydrangea- the best fall foliage color of any panicled hydrangea, with long-lasting blooms persisting through the fall.

• Ivory Halo Red Twig Dogwood- Bright variegated foliage gives way to yellow fall color and blood-red branches in late fall and winter.

• Fothergilla- Unbelievable fall foliage display, showcasing the full palate of fall color- orange, red, yellow, and even purple hues in sun or shade.

• Montauk Daisy- Long fall-blooming daisy that stands up to salt spray, heat, and tight planting conditions in a cottage garden setting.

• Red Sprite Winterberry- the dwarf cultivar to have among an old-time Van Wilgen’s favorite plant. Large glossy red berries come out in fall and last well after the foliage has turned bright yellow and fallen off.

• New England Aster- Purple or pink flowers emerge in early September and brighten up any garden border

• Tree form Limelight Hydrangea- The only choice for a dwarf foundation tree with blooms that continue to be stunning through the fall.

• Itea- Deep red and even purplish tones emerge in the fall, helping this native shrub stand out in the woodland border.

• Sedum- Huge, almost broccoli-like flower heads that bloom from August to October are the favorite choice of bees and pollinators in the fall.

• Ornamental Grasses- The star of the fall landscape, with so many great colors and styles that we could devote a whole list just to them.

• Black-Eyed Susan- Classic native perennial that provides non-stop yellow blooms from late summer to mid-fall.

Caring for your hydrangea can make all the difference for next year’s blooms. Hydrangea’s are strong and can come back from almost anything when given enough time and proper care.


Just follow these fall tips for pruning and maintenance. It isn’t complicated.



It is important to identify your variety first because some hydrangea varieties do not like being pruned in the fall.

If your garden has hydrangeas, then you need to know that there are two types of hydrangeas. One type produces flower buds on old wood and the other produces flower buds on new wood. Stems are called old wood if they have been on the plant since the summer before. New wood are stems that develop in the current season. Most varieties found in gardens are old wood bloomers including Mophead, Big Leaf, Lacecap, and Oakleaf hydrangeas. Double check your variety with your local garden center.

When to Prune

Hydrangeas can grow for years without being pruned, but if they get unruly, over take an area of the garden or lose their growing capabilities – it is time to trim. But when to prune them?

Prune fall blooming hydrangeas, or old wood bloomers, after they bloom in the summer. If you prune old wooded hydrangeas in fall, you are cutting off next seasons blooms.

Summer blooming hydrangeas, or those that bloom on new wood, are pruned in the fall, after they stop blooming.

Hydrangeas are colorful and vibrant in the early season, but are hard to preserve after being cut. They are easier to care for after they start drying on the bush.

How to Prune

Near the bottom of your plant, you will see thin, wispy, weak growth. Cut those down. They will take up energy that your plant could use for blooms.

Look for any dead stumps on your stems. They will not have grown any new wood or buds out of the original old wood. Cut the dead stumps down to their base to completely remove them. This will allow the new growth underneath to have a chance to succeed.

Dead and old blooms need to be removed to make room for new buds to come through. Cut the flower head off right above the first few leaves to encourage blooms for the next summer.

Stand back from the plant and observe its shape. You’ll want to prune the shrub into the shape you prefer, a sphere is the typical style but you could prune it into any shape you want!

Clean the Debris

Remove any debris that fell off from the base of the plant. You want to make sure your soil is free of any weeds, leaves and dead flowers.


If you’re growing blue hydrangeas, feed with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic and the blooms bright. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone.

For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is from spring until fall.

Follow these few steps and your hydrangeas will be happy and vibrant for years to come.

There is absolutely no debate the most asked for plant in the tree and shrub yard are hydrangeas! The great thing about hydrangeas is there is a perfect type for each customer’s specific needs. Here is a list of some of our favorites here at Van Wilgen’s.

Bobo Hydrangea

This little cutie has been around for a few years and quickly went to the top of our list. A compact grower that matures to 3’x3’. It produces dense white cone-shaped flowers from summer into the fall. As flowers pass, the color changes to a rosy pink. Flowers are perfect for cutting. The best part of this little guy is it flowers on new wood and thrives in full sun. Extremely cold hardy.

Bloomstruck Hydrangea

The newest addition to the Endless Summer Collection. Bloomstruck is a no-brainer! It produces pink flowers in sweet soil and purple-blue flowers in acid soil. The red stems of the plant give great contrast against the green foliage. It will grow to about 4-5’ tall and about as wide. It prefers morning sun and afternoon shade. It flowers on new and old wood so be careful when you prune. Very heat tolerant as well.

Little Quickfire Hydrangea

Without a doubt one of my favorites! This plant has a great compact habit for a small area. The flowers are more open than other panicle forms, emerging white then changing to pinkish-red. The stems of the plant are a deep red that gives excellent contrast to the deep green leaves. My favorite quality is its scarlet red fall color of foliage. Prefers full sun. Flowers on new wood. Very cold hardy.

Hydrangea Tiny Tuff Stuff

What a performer! It is a variety of mountain hydrangea so that means it’s about as cold-hardy as it gets! You will be treated to lace cap flowers that will be blue to purple in acid soil. Handles an unbelievable amount of shade and will still flower. Great for container plantings as well because of its hardiness. Compact grower.

Original Endless Summer Hydrangea

The one that started it all! Flowers will be pink or blue depending on soil ph. Flowers very heavily. Grows to 5’x5’. Flowers emerge on new and old wood. Performs best in afternoon shade. Great for mass plantings.

Our friends at Proven Winners have created a Hydrangea chart to help if yours isn’t flowering, Click below to learn more.

One of the most asked questions in the nursery yard in recent days is, “When will my hydrangea andbutterfly2 butterfly bush wake up? Did they overwinter okay?” The answer to that question is not as straightforward as I would like it to be.
The biggest factor this spring has been our unusually cold temperatures, especially at night. Due to the especially cold weather, plants are still clinging to their winter dormancy. Once Mother Nature warms up, you will start to see signs of life.
So what can you do in the meantime? Let’s start with the butterfly bush. Prune back your plants to anywhere from 6-18″ high. Feed them with Plant-tone, following the directions on the back of the bag. Plant-tone is a slow-release fertilizer that will feed over time and not interfere with dormancy.
Now it’s time for hydrangeas. The most important item to remember is to resist the temptation to prune your hydrangeas all the way to the ground. Most varieties of hydrangea bloom on old wood, so if you remove the old growth it will affect the flowering for the season. Right now, you should start to see green foliage breaking from the center of the plant, with large portions of the branching of the plant still looking dormant. Now is also the time to feed your hydrangea. We recommend Holly-tone, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants, now. Once your plants start blooming you may apply Color-Me Blue or Color-Me Pink to ensure they are the perfect color for your garden all summer long.

What will happen with my Hydrangeas this season! That has been the most asked question at the garden center recently. My advice to all…don’t panic. With the recent up and down weather temperatures experienced over the past few weeks, some plants may show effects from it. However, it is too soon to tell. The good news is we should have plenty of time for our plants to bounce back.

Some of you may be asking what I can do now. Now is the time to examine your plants. Pay close attention to the buds. If the buds that began to swell during the warm weather we had in February and early March are still alive chances are they will be fine. If the buds at the tips of the stems have been damaged it will cause the buds below to eventually open with flowers. This is called apical dominance. Please resist the temptation to prune your plants to the ground. This may cause your plants to not flower this year and next. There are so many hydrangeas these days that require different pruning times, I recommend speaking to one of our many knowledgeable staff members to learn how and when to prune. I have also attached an awesome link from our friends at Proven Winners outlining the What, When, and How of Hydrangea care.

Why isn’t my Hydrangea Blooming Chart

Jason Scire, Nursery Manager