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Hydrangeas

Posted on 1st Dec 2011 @ 4:46 PM

Hydrangeas

Having been in and out of fashion in Western culture over the years, Hydrangeas are experiencing a revival once again.

With their showy flowers in beautiful colours and large shady leaves, it is no wonder that they are a fashionable plant for the home.

Hydrangea Facts

With a genus of about 70 to 75 species which are native to southern and eastern Asia most shrubs are 1m to 3m tall although there are some Hydrangeas in parts of the world that are small trees and others that can climb up to 30 metres through trees. Hydrangeas can be deciduous or evergreen, though the mainly cultivated temperate species are all deciduous.

There are two flower arrangements in Hydrangeas, the mophead flowers, which are large flower heads resembling pomā€poms or as the name implies, the head of a mop. In contrast are the lacecap flowers that are flat flower heads with a centre core of subdued fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of showy sterile flowers. Both are equally gorgeous and look wonderful in the garden as a feature.

Hydrangeas through the ages

Hydrangeas have been introduced into many places around the world. In Portugal the Azores islands have a fabulous display of Hydrangeas, especially on the island Faial, which is known as the blue island due to the vast number of blue hydrangeas, and the island of Terceira which is called the “Lilac Island” with it’s huge number of delicately shaded lilac hydrangeas.

In Japan a herbal tea (ama-cha) is made from the leaves of the Hydrangea Serrata and is called a sweet tea, which contains a substance that develops a sweet taste (phyllodulcin).  Ama-cha is mainly used for the Buddha bathing ceremony on April 8th each year, which is the day thought to be Buddha’s birthday in Japan. Ama-cha is poured over a statue of Buddha and then served to people in attendance. Legend has it that on the day Buddha was born, nine dragons poured Amrita over him and Ama-cha is substituted for Amrita in Japan.

Pink hydrangeas represent many different meanings, although generally means, “You are the beat of my heart”. Celebrated Asian florist Tan Jun Yong is quoted as saying “The light delicate blush of the petals, reminds me of a beating heart, while the size could only match the heart of the sender”.

Caring for your Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are very easy and rewarding to grow, they have many desirable features for the garden such as, fabulous flower show, toughness and unlike most shrubs can tolerate shade and moist conditions. They also make a wonderful cut flower. Hydrangeas do their best when placed in morning sun and afternoon shade, they can take full sun though you will find that they tend to struggle a bit when exposed to our hot afternoon summer sun.

Pruning should be on an annual basis in the winter and back to 2 or 3 buds. This may seem like you are taking most of the shrub back to nothing, though come spring and summer your hydrangea will burst out into a gorgeous compact shrub again full of flowers.

The soil is of significance to hydrangeas because its acidity determines the colour of the flowers. If the soil is acidic with a pH of around 4.5 to 5.0 the flowers will be anything from light blue, electric blue or even peacock blue whereas if your soil is less acidic and more alkaline (which tends to happen in most gardens) then the flowers will be pink. White cultivars remain white regardless of soil pH.

Feeding your hydrangea in june/july with Garden Gold (a complete fertilizer) will ensure that you have healthy blooms throughout summer Hydrangeas also don’t like to dry out to much and will let you know when they need a drink by wilting, giving them a good deep drink a couple of times a week if they are planted in the ground will keep them happy and healthy.

Hydrangeas look fantastic planted as a border and can be used to add depth and colour or as a focal feature. Pots planted with hydrangeas are also a fabulous way to brighten up verandahs or entrances throughout the late spring and summer. Come in and see the colourful display of hydrangeas on offer now at the nursery.