Tag Archives: Hydrangea Ruby Slippers

The Hydrangea and the Surprise Plant

Last August I ordered a pink Hydrangea from Bluestone Perennials, the “Hydrangea Ruby Slippers.” I didn’t realize at the time that this plant was marked for spring delivery, so I expected it to come at the same time as my “Agastache Raspberry Summer.” When it didn’t, I contacted the company and they kindly informed me of my misunderstanding.


So we skip forward . . . yesterday my Hydrangea showed up. The box was sitting just outside my mailbox (it was too big to fit inside), and had the words “Live Plant” on the outside. I totally forgot what it was I had ordered outside of my Arbor Day Foundation order until I read the “Bluestone Perennials” return label. Then I got excited and began to tear into it with my keys (I had just gotten home and my car keys were still in hand).


Inside the box were two plants. I was actually a little confused. I remembered ordering one plant, the Hydrangea. And I received two. Not two Hydrangeas, but one Hydrangea (the long anticipated “Ruby Slippers”), and another plant I had never heard of “Catananche caerulea,” or “Cupids Dart.” The plant sticker had another sticker attached, one that said “Free surprise plant.” Free plant? Yes!! I knew nothing about this free plant, but I was all about getting free stuff!! I only hoped I could use it!


Even though Bluestone sent an instruction sheet for these new plants, it wasn’t very specific to each plant-it was more of a generic “now that you have your plants, please do this to prepare them since they’ve been in a box for awhile . . .” etc.  It was helpful, but I was hoping for a more specific guide for each plant, especially since I had never heard of Catananche before, and knew nothing about its light/water/soil requirements.


Bluestone has a decent plant description on their website. I went online for a quick rundown and found out that Catananche was a sun loving, draught resistant plant with blue-ish flowers that bloom early-late summer. Even better! I watered both plants, let them sit in the shade for about 45 minutes, and then, being anxious and impatient, I decided to plant them. The recommendations were to wait about a day or so, placing the plants in shade and watering them overnight. Since it was late afternoon, the site was already covered in Dappled shade, and I knew I would be too busy the next day to address my new acquisitions I hope I don’t regret being so hasty.


The soil in the area where I would be planting was had a high clay content. I was able to “amend” this with some organic material I had piled under the Forsythia bush in March. Much of it had already started to decompose into soil, so I took some of this as well, and placed most of it in the planting hole for the Hydrangea. It seemed that Cupids Dart wasn’t so picky, so I didn’t bother amending the soil for that site before planting.


The organic containers provided by the company were designed to be planted directly into the ground. Normally I would go on ahead and take them out, but since the hydrangea was on a slope, I felt it would be beneficial to leave it in for once to prevent soil erosion around the plant. I realize its difficult to pick her out, but Ruby slippers is the plant in the middle, the one with leaves that look like maple leaves.


The Catananche (the smallest plant in the corner by the debris) was planted by the garage side door, directly behind the sedum, and to the left of the magnolia. It is supposed to be a prolific self seeder. I am hoping this is true, because the only other plants back behind the magnolia are the Iris and some daffodils, and I need something to fill in that space until the magnolia allows enough shade for me to plant Hostas.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if Bluestone always sends a surprise plant? They are too pricey for me to purchase on a regular basis (the Hydrangea was $16), but its worth it if you want more than just your Wal-Mart/Lowe’s variety of plants, and the Catananche was worth $9.95 (so I consider my total cost to be $8 per plant). Even my local greenhouse didn’t have Agastache (from my order last fall), and the only variety of Hydrangea they sold was about $45 per plant-not really in my budget.