Featured: Zeta Hook Boxes

Looking to dress up the deck with flower boxes? Introducing the Zeta Hook, a fully-assembled flower box that requires no separate brackets or hardware to mount. It simply “hooks” onto railings with balusters, including plastic or composite railings without any causing damage! Locally made in Attleboro MA, the Zeta Hook flower box is constructed of white cedar and includes a heavy duty liner for easy planting year after year. Paint, stain or leave natural! Sorry, not available at Mahoney’s Brighton.

Hydrangeas In All Their Glory

Can you think of a more beloved plant in New England than the Hydrangea? Its flowers have many forms, ranging from beautiful rounded mopheads in shades of blue, to showy panicles in shades of pink and white, to delicate lacecap flowers in tones of pink and blue. New varieties are expanding the range of flower color into the red spectrum. In terms of size, there are varieties ranging from 2’ to 6’ in height. And the climbing hydrangea is as beautiful as it is unusual.  This means there is a hydrangea for every location.

Types of Hydrangeas

There are 6 species of hydrangea commonly grown in our area.


Hydrangea macrophylla

japanese ajisai/hydrangea

Perhaps the most familiar is Hydrangea macrophylla (known as mophead or bigleaf hydrangea). In addition to the rounded mophead flower form, Hydrangea macrophylla also comes in a lacecap flower form. These are flat to slightly domed flower heads with many small florets in the center and larger, showier florets around the edges, creating an elegant and lacy flower form. ‘Twist ‘n’ Shout’ and ‘Wedding Gown’ are examples of the lacecap form of Hydrangea macrophylla. In terms of mophead flowers, there are many varieties from which to choose. ‘Nantucket Blue’, ‘Endless Summer’, ‘Bloomstruck’, ‘Blushing Bride’, ‘Let’s Dance Blue Jangles’, ‘Let’s Dance Rave’, ‘Let’s Dance Rhythmic Blue’ and ‘LA Dreamin’ all have mophead type flowers. A new introduction with raspberry red mophead flowers is ‘Summer Crush’.


Hydrangea paniculata

Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea) has large cone-shaped flowers. Reliable bloomers, panicle hydrangeas subtly change color over their many months of bloom. Soft green buds open to creamy white flowers which morph into varying shades of pink, and with some varieties, even red by season’s end. Some panicle hydrangeas come in full size versions which grow to 6’-8’ and in smaller versions which grow 4’-5’ in height (‘Quick Fire’ / ‘Little Quick Fire’ and ‘Limelight’ / ‘Little Lime’). The smallest variety is ‘Bobo’ which bears large white flowers on a shrub that reaches only 3’ in height. Varieties such as ‘Pinky Winky’, ‘Strawberry Sundae’ and ‘Zinfin Doll’ showcase flowers in different shades of color from bottom to top.

In addition to the shrub form, paniculatas such as ‘Limelight’, ‘Pink Diamond’ and ‘Quick Fire’ are available in tree form.  Growing atop a short trunk, this unique form adds stature, structure and scale to the garden. Depending on the variety, they will grow 6’-10’ in height, making a dramatic statement in the landscape.  


Hydrangea arborescens

Hydrangea arborescens (smooth hydrangea) is quite shade tolerant. It has showy dome shaped white flowers. The well-known variety ‘Annabelle’ has dramatic, large white flowers. ‘Annabelle’ has been joined by the ‘Incrediball’ and ‘Invincibelle’ series which offer pink varieties in addition to white.


Hydrangea serrata

Hydrangea serrata (mountain hydrangea) is very cold tolerant and seldom damaged by winter conditions. The elegant lacecap flowers attract pollinators, a bonus in any garden. ‘Bluebird’ has light blue flowers while newer varieties such as those in the ‘Tuff Stuff’ series offer stronger tones ranging from bright pink to purple blue.


Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) is a striking and unusual form of hydrangea. The leaves are large and resemble oak leaves, hence its common name. Dark green in summer, the leaves turn mahogany red in fall. Flowers are large panicles in white or pink, depending on the variety. Hydrangea quercifolia has exfoliating bark which becomes more pronounced with age. The beautiful bark adds considerable winter interest to the landscape. Varieties such as ‘Alice’ and will reach 6’-8’ in height and width. ‘Snow Queen’ and ‘Gatsby Gal’ are slightly smaller.  ‘Sikes Dwarf’ matures at just 3’-4’. The white flowers of ‘Ruby Slippers’ quickly mature to deep pink. It is similar in size to ‘Sikes Dwarf’. ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Gatsby Star’ have showy white double blossoms that are arranged in layers.


Hydrangea petiolaris

Hydrangea petiolaris is commonly known as climbing hydrangea. It is slow to establish and follows the axiom “first it sleeps, then it creeps, then it leaps”.  It clings and climbs to fencing or other structures by twining and aerial rootlets along its stems. Horizontal lateral branches can extend several feet. The foliage is heart shaped. Large fragrant white flowers appear in June.  A mature specimen growing along a fence or up a tree is a thing of beauty. The woody vine adds texture and interest throughout the winter.



General Information

In the garden, the first hydrangeas come into bloom just after the first flush of roses is fading. Beginning in late June and continuing into the fall, they offer a strong presence and a long season of interest in the garden. The flowers will subtly change color as they mature. They often remain on the plant into and through the winter, fading to a lovely tan color. Leaves on some types of hydrangea turn beautiful tones of red and mahogany in the autumn. The stems of the plants remain upright through the winter, adding structure and form to the winter landscape.

For optimal flowering, hydrangeas require 4 hours of sun each day, ideally in the morning. The hot afternoon sun can cause mophead hydrangeas to wilt. Panicle hydrangeas are the most sun tolerant in our area, thriving in anything from full sun to part shade conditions. Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) and Hydrangea arborescens (smooth hydrangea) are the most shade tolerant.  

Hydrangeas love the naturally occurring acidic (pH below 7) nature of our New England soils. The pH of our soils allows aluminum to be readily available to the roots and the more aluminum that is absorbed, the more intensely blue the flowers will be. It is rarely necessary to add supplemental aluminum to the soil. For those whose taste runs more to the pink tones, plant breeders have introduced a number of varieties that stay true to color. This means there is no need to try to adjust the soil pH from our naturally occurring acidic pH to a more alkaline pH. Trying to adjust soil pH requires making chemical applications in specific amounts at specific times. It takes considerable effort and is not particularly effective.

Planted in good soil and light conditions, hydrangeas require little fertilizer. In fact, over-fertilizing will likely result in big green leaves but few flowers.  Hydrangeas do not require yearly fertilizing. An older shrub might benefit from the occasional application of a granular, show-release fertilizer with a high percentage of phosphorus (the middle number in the NPK ratio). Phosphorus is the element that encourages bloom. A fertilizer with a high percentage of nitrogen (the first number in the NPK ratio) will encourage leaf growth at the expense of flower production.

Hydrangeas require plenty of water, particularly as they are getting established. Their root systems are quite shallow and dry out quickly. Regular and deep watering is important, as is well-draining soil. They will not tolerate wet feet. A two inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants will help insulate the plants in winter and keep the soil from drying out too quickly in summer. As with any mulch, do not mound it up against the stems of the plant.




When and how to prune hydrangeas are frequently asked questions. The short answer is that hydrangeas require very little pruning. Too frequent or vigorous pruning can remove flower buds, frustrating both the plant and the gardener. A more complete answer involves several factors.

Hydrangeas require 2 or more years to develop their root system and become established in the garden. Optimal flower production occurs on mature plants so try to be patient during those first two years.

It is important to understand when hydrangeas form their flower buds. Some types of hydrangeas set their flower buds on the new season’s growth (ie. in the spring). This is referred to as blooming on new wood. Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea) and Hydrangea arborescens (smooth hydrangea) both bloom on new wood. If they require pruning (to remove last year’s flower heads that remained through the winter or to reduce the height of wayward stems) it should be done in late winter or very early spring while the plant is still dormant. Hydrangea macrophylla (bigleaf hydrangea) and Hydrangea serrata (mountain hydrangea) form their flower buds at the end of the current year’s blooming season. The flower buds go dormant as winter approaches and open in the following summer season (referred to as blooming on old wood). If pruned in spring, the result will be a lack of flowers. Another factor, particularly in the case of Hydrangea macrophylla, is that in harsh winters the dormant flower buds may be damaged, either by extreme cold or by an unusually warm period in winter followed a return to frigid conditions. The introduction of reblooming hydrangeas (the ‘Endless Summer’ series and the ‘Let’s Dance’ series, for example) has allowed for more reliable flowering as these plants bloom on both old wood and new wood. Pruning reblooming hydrangeas runs the risk of removing flower buds from old and/or new wood.

Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea) blooms on new wood. It can be pruned in late winter or very early spring to remove any remaining flower heads from last summer or to reduce the height of the plant.

Hydrangea serrata (mountain hydrangea) blooms on old wood. Very little pruning is required. The ‘Tuff Stuff’ series has introduced the ability to bloom on both old and new wood. As with other rebloomers, pruning runs the risk of removing flower buds from old and/or new wood.

Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) and Hydrangea petiolaris (climbing hydrangea) take a number of years to mature to their full flowering capacity. They bloom on old wood. It is best to avoid pruning unless absolutely necessary.

It is also worth noting that hydrangeas are among the very last plants to leaf out each year. A stem that appears lifeless in mid-May may yet leaf out. Wait until Memorial Day and even June 1 to determine if there are any dead stems. They will often pull out of the plant with a gentle tug, another indication they are no longer viable.

Hydrangeas are long lived and healthy shrubs that offer some of the most spectacular blooms to be found in the garden. When sited properly, they give us multiple seasons of interest with very little care. They can be grown as individual specimens or planted en masse to form a hedge. They combine well with other plants, adding interest and structure to the mixed border. Smaller varieties can even be grown in containers. It is hard to imagine gardening in New England without them!


Video Look: What’s In Store: May 18, 2019

The rain is gone and we’re ready! We are absolutely packed to the brim with flowering tropical plants, hanging baskets, Uncle Mike’s Herbs + Veggies, trees and shrubs. Plus, our selection of lightweight fiberclay fountains are now 30% Off!

Video Look: What’s In Store May 11, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend! Our stores are filled with everything you’ll need to kick off gardening season or find the perfect gift for Mom! We’re filled to the brim with our locally-grown hanging baskets, fresh cut flowers in our Florists in Winchester & Tewksbury, beautiful pottery, hydrangeas and lilac shrubs, herbs + veggies and all Rose Bushes are 20% off for Rewards Members through 5/15/2019! Not a Rewards Member? Sign up at the register today!

Now in: Strawberry Plants

It’s the best time of year to plant your strawberry plants! Our selection is unbeatable this year with many of Uncle Mike’s favorites. Grown locally in our Woburn greenhouses, our strawberry varieties have been selected for their great performance in our New England garden. Strawberries grow best in full sun and are grouped into two categories: June-bearing and Ever-bearing. June-Bearing Strawberries produce a single, large crop per year during a 2-3 week period in late Spring. These traditionally grown strawberry plants produce a single flush of flowers before berries and many runners. They are classified in early, mid and late varieties. Our favorite is the All-Star variety for their taste and resistance to disease. Because they produce runners, they need more room in the garden and can make a great ground-cover.

Ever-bearing Strawberry plants produce fruit throughout the entire growing season. Beginning in Spring, with intermittent crops throughout summer and fall. They don’t send out many runners, which makes them great for containers or hanging baskets. Day-Neutral Strawberries – similar to ever-bearing, also send out few runners and have a continuous crop all season long vs. intermittent.

‘Ozark Beauty’

This day-neutral strawberry is famous for its large yields of bright red, usually large berries. Produces from June – September. They deliver fruit all summer with a large initial harvest and a steady crop the rest of the season.


Quinault is a terrific variety for containers. It is everbearing, and produces amazingly large and sweet strawberries. Very disease resistant!



Strawberry Montana is a later addition to the strawberry varieties. Produces an abundance of conically-shaped medium-large fruits for the whole summer. Flavor is sweet. Everbearing.


Ideal for small containers and window boxes, Gasana has a compact growth habit with beautiful pink flowers. The flowers produce small to medium, conical berries with excellent flavor. Everbearing.


An all-American Selection in 2016! Easy to grow and vigorous, Delizz is a prolific producer of smaller, tasty strawberries all season long. Delizz is “day-neutral” vs everbearing. Modern day-neutral strawberries were developed to produce continuously all summer and into the fall. In contrast, traditional everbearing produces two to three separate crops each growing season.


All Star produces a very high yield of extra sweet, juicy berries in mid-late season. Usually late Spring and Early Summer here in New England – hence Junebearing. They are vigorous plants and very resistant to disease! Plant with everbearing varieties for a even more enjoyment.


Alpine Strawberry

Alpine Strawberries are small fruits with wonderfully sweet taste. Extremely prolific, alpine strawberries don’t look like your typical grocery store strawberry fruit. Looking like a wild cultivar, alpines bear fruit throughout the season with production peaking in mid summer. Because of their wildflower tendancies, apline strawberries are often used as ground cover because of their vigorous spreading habits.

Video Look: What’s In Store April 19, 2019

Spring has sprung and we’re ready for Easter and Passover this weekend! Find blooming trees and shrubs in our nurseries, festive plants and decor in our greenhouses and all of the expert advice you’ll need to spruce up the home and yard. Visit our full-service florists in Tewksbury and Winchester for fresh-cut flowers and potted arrangements for holiday decor and host gifts too!

Featured: Sweet Peet Organic Mulch

Sweet Peet® is the premium organic mulch for flower and vegetable gardens. Sweet Peet® buffers both acid and alkaline (low and High pH) soils by helping to maintain the desired gardening Sweet Spot. During its formulation, Sweet Peet® goes through a thermal stage where weeds and weed seeds are destroyed, preventing contamination in your garden.

Sweet Peet® is the best organic mulch for a vegetable garden because it enriches the soil, transforms into humus, improves tilth, encourages beneficial earthworms and replenishes microbes that are often destroyed by harsh chemicals and acid rain.

Like most mulches, Sweet Peet® suppresses weeds by smothering the soil. But Sweet Peet does more; it is produced to optimize the naturally occurring cat-ion exchange which creates an undesirable growing medium for weeds.


Pieris (Andromeda) 

One of the earliest shrubs to bloom in the spring, Pieris offers an elegant flower form that merits close inspection. Individual flowers may remind you of lily of the valley, but rather than one individual flower, they are grouped in large clusters that hang down from the tiered branches, each cluster up to 6” long. Often fragrant, they shimmer in the early spring landscape. Flowers may be white, pink or deep rose, depending on the variety. 

Native to the mountain regions of the Far East, Pieris japonica is wonderfully hardy in our area. It is a shrub with four seasons of interest. Glossy dark green leaves remain evergreen all year and for that reason alone, it merits inclusion in our gardens. But there is an added foliar element – new leaves emerge as the flowering cycle is coming to an end and are bronze to red in color. The contrast is eye-catching.  As the colorful new leaves turn dark green, buds for next year’s flowers are forming. The buds are bead-like and showy, rather like having jewelry on your shrub! The buds’ summer show continues throughout the winter, adding interest and contrast to the evergreen foliage.  

Pieris are excellent companions for Rhododendrons and Azaleas as they grow in similar conditions. They are ideal for use in foundation plantings, woodland edges and mixed borders. We are perhaps most familiar with the 3’-5’ tall, mid-sized varieties but there are excellent low growing varieties for the front of the border, and even dwarf varieties under 2’ tall which can be grown in containers. Versatile, they will grow in light conditions ranging from sun to partial shade to full shade. If grown in full sun, they will be happiest with some afternoon shade. And no matter the light conditions, they do appreciate protection from the drying effects of winter winds and sun. They like the acidic nature of our New England soils, and to look their best, they prefer that soil to be rich in organic matter.  

Deer resistant, they are also a favorite and important food source for our native pollinator, the mason bee. Here are varieties to consider for your landscape. 


Pieris japonica ‘Compacta’ 

As the name suggests, this variety is somewhat smaller than traditional varieties of Andromeda. It grows to a height of 4’. As well, the leaves are slightly smaller than traditional varieties. It flowers heavily with trusses of white, bell-like flowers that are lightly fragrant. After the flowers fade, new foliage emerges and is flushed with red-bronze tones. As this new foliage matures it becomes a lovely shiny, deep green.  


Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ 

‘Dorothy Wycoff’ is a beautiful variety, admired for its year round interest. It features dark red winter flower buds which open to reveal white flowers with a soft pink tone. The foliage is glossy and dark green in summer, turning mahogany-red in winter. This shrub will reach a height of 5’ in 10 years.  


Pieris japonica ‘Karenoma 

‘Karenoma’ has all the virtues associated with Andromedas – showy flower buds that open to elegant, upright trusses of fragrant, white flowers, new foliage which has bronze-red tones, and glossy leaves that remain through the winter. But this variety has an added virtue –it is a particularly hardy variety.  Growing to a height of 4’-5’ and a similar width, ‘Karenoma’  is perfect for the home landscape.  


Pieris japonica ‘Katsura’ 

‘Katsura’ is a lovely plant with arching trusses of rich rose- pink, bell-shaped flowers that appear in early spring. A distinguishing feature of this variety is that new foliage emerges not just in spring, but into summer, offering a particularly long season to enjoy the dramatic, glossy, wine-red color of new growth. In 10 years, ‘Katsura’ will reach a height of 5’ and a similar width.  


Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’ 

‘Little Heath’, as the name suggests, is smaller than many Andromedas, growing 2’-3’ high and wide at maturity. Pendulous white bell-shaped flowers appear in early spring. Unusual for Andromeda, ‘Little Heath’ has variegated foliage – each leaf is outlined in cream. New foliage emerges with bronze- red colored tones. It performs well in the ground and is also suitable for container planting. 


Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ 

‘Mountain Fire’ is a showy and dramatic Andromeda, noted for its spectacular brilliant red new growth which remains on display for several weeks. No muted bronze tones for this variety. ‘Mountain Fire’ has lovely clusters of fragrant white flowers. It will grow slowly to a height of 6’ and a similar width.  


Pieris japonica ‘Red Mill’ 

‘Red Mill’ is noted for the fiery red color of its newly emerging foliage. Leaves mature to a rich dark green. Large clusters of white flowers appear in early spring and are particularly long lasting on this variety. ‘Red Mill’ grows to a height of 4’-6’. 


Pieris japonica ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ 

Another Andromeda with lovely bronze-red new growth, ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ is notable for its relatively early and profuse bloom. Clusters of pink buds open to fragrant white flowers. Leaves mature to glossy dark green on lovely red stems. More narrow than many Andromeda, ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ will grow to a height of 6’-8’ and a width of 4’-6’ in 10 years.  


Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’ 

‘Valley Valentine’ has much to commend it. It has beautiful, deep red flower buds that open to deep pink blooms. The newly emergent foliage has an attractive, bronzy tint before maturing to glossy green in the summer. Winter brings bronze-red tones to the foliage. It grows slowly, reaching a height of 5’-6’ in 10 years.  


Pieris japonica var. yakushimanum ‘Cavatine 

This hardy, slow growing Andromeda is increasingly popular. It has small leaves and grows as a dense, compact mound only 2’ tall and a bit wider in 10 years. Trusses of white flowers open slightly later in spring than other varieties and are particularly fragrant and long lasting. This variety is well suited to the smaller garden. It can be used in a foundation planting or mixed border, and is particularly attractive when used to line a walkway. 


Pieris japonica var. yakushimanum ‘Prelude’  

‘Prelude’ is similar to ‘Cavatine’ with the same low, mounding shape. Flower buds are pink, opening to long lasting, delicate white blooms. Emerging foliage has a pinkish tint before maturing to rich dark green.  


Pieris x ‘Brouwers Beauty’ 

Developed in Connecticut, ‘Brouwer’s Beauty’ is a cross between Pieris japonica and our native Pieris floribunda. The result is a beautiful shrub with purple-red winter buds which open to an abundant display of slightly fragrant white, bell-shaped flowers that are upright and slightly arching. New spring foliage is yellow-green, maturing to shiny dark green in summer and bronze in winter. The rich winter foliage complements the deep red flower buds, creating winter interest in the garden. Very hardy, it is slow growing, forming a dense shrub 5’-6’ tall and 3’-4’ wide in 10 years. This variety was a Cary Award winter in 2000, signifying its outstanding garden performance in our region.  


Dwarf Pieris 

While we tend to think of Andromeda as a medium sized shrub, there are several dwarf varieties which feature a compact, mounded form no more than 2’ tall and wide in 10 years. The leaves and flowers are proportionally reduced in size and appropriately scaled to the plant.  Dwarf Pieris varieties are a great option for the smaller landscape or rock gardens.  


 Pieris japonica ‘Bisbee Dwarf’ 

‘Bisbee Dwarf’ is a slow growing variety with small white flowers panicles that are plentiful and fragrant. Newly emergent leaves are reddish in color before maturing to a glossy dark green. This variety has a Massachusetts connection as it was introduced by Horatio Bisbee of Ware. 


Pieris japonica ‘Bonsai’ 

‘Bonsai’ has tiny, one inch, round, dark green leaves and a dense, upright growth habit. Panicles of white bell flowers are in perfect scale. And yes, it is perfect for bonsai! 


Pieris japonica ‘Pygmaea 

‘Pygmaea’ is a very unusual Andromeda. It has delicate 1” long, narrow leaves that give a feathery texture to the garden. Its growth habit is fairly upright. Extremely slow growing, it is suitable for containers, rock gardens or a small landscape. White flowers appear in spring.   

Video Look: Valentine’s Day in the Florist

We’re ready! Stop into our full-service florists at Mahoney’s Winchester and Tewksbury for beautiful blooms for your Valentine! Let us help you pull together fresh bouquets, or browse from our ready-made assortment of roses, tulips and mixed flowers. Find grab-and-go beautiful vase arrangements and potted arrangements too!

Video Look What’s In Store: February 2, 2019

Our greenhouses are loaded with fresh houseplants! With deliveries arriving every day throughout the winter months, you’ll find the perfect plants to dress up your home. Easy care, low light, tabletop to floor-sized, unique varieties and more! It’s all here.