There are several types of Hydrangea to consider. The Mop Heads or Hortensia above, the lace caps or other species. They are a rewarding group of plants to grow well but need the right conditions to excel.
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Hydrangeas available from Thompson & Morgan
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Red, White and Blue the patriotic colours of the Hydrangea are augmented by pinks and purples like H. Ayeshia above as a variation on those themes. Flowering from mid-summer these shrubs give a magnificent display with very little effort. Did you see Hydrangea maritima on seaside holidays in large displays of sugary pink and sometimes blue.
Hydrangea macrophylla is the mop head type that can change flower colour from pink too blue depending on the soil. If the soil is acid then you will get a blue flower. The pink is produced on alkaline and more neutral soils. To change to blue add Aluminium sulphate or special colouring chemicals from garden centres to get a pink add lime. Some old methods include burrying a bag of nails or putting rusting iron near the plant. For best results when the soil id wrong for your desired colour plant it in a large pot with the right type of soil and keep it well wartered.
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Some old varieties to look out for
The leaves of this Hydragea Aspera are one of its key features. As with other Aspera subspecies the branches and leaves are ‘strigose’ which botanically means ‘beset with appressed straight and stiff hairs’ that means rough and furry to me.
This specimen shrub is 4-5 feet tall and whilst it comes from the Himalayas some plants can be a bit tender.
The Purple flowers open to a clear white (that is almost burned out on this photo) but the overall effect is pleasing. The flowerheads make good internal decorations.
The colouring of Hydrangea Aspera is not affected by aluminium or acidity of the soil.
Other Hydrangea species that are closely related include H.Involucrata, H. Strigosa and H. Villosa. H. Sargentiana is a taller more leggy coarse shrub brought from China by E H Wilson with a low growing H. Longipes and H. Galbripes.
Hydrangeas available from Thompson & Morgan
Hydrangea is a great plant that offers a long flowering season on a nicely shaped bush. Books suggest sun / partial shade. But, our experience is that it can thrive in full sun, but heavy shade will leave it stunted. It is relatively pest free which is a real boon. It is also fairly resistant to frosts, though new blooms may get damaged in a heavy frost. It is a heavy feeder, especially when in bloom. Give a good feed in spring with a general plant fertiliser.
Flowers come from new shoots, so you can prune back the old shoots in Autumn. But, we like to just dead head to encourage more flowers.
Hydrangea are easy to grow, voluminous shrubs with long lasting flower-heads. They can grow to be handsome 6 foot high and wide shrubs.
Growing Hydrangea Early autumn is the best time to plant new Hydrangeas. If planting in spring take more care with watering and mulch the plants to keep the soil damp. Hydrangeas grow best in semi shade in rich moist soil. Trim off old flower heads and dead stems in spring. Give them a balanced fertilizer in spring.
Choose the Right Variety Mophead or Hortensia hydrangeas are the type that have pompom like heads that open into a globe shape such as ‘Blue Bonnet’ or ‘Forever Pink’. Lacecap varieties have flat heads who’s flowers do not open at the same time.
Quercifolias often have pyramid shaped white flowers and oak shaped leaves. Annabelle is the best known and well liked variety of Hydrangea arborescens.
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Great seaside flowering shrubs and a powerful garden statement. There are a wide range of species and you get ‘a good bang for your buck’.
Hydrangeas are voluminous shrubs with lasting flowers. They are easy to grow even in windy locations and the flowers are good for cutting (add a little liquid soap and sugar to the water so they last longer). As the name suggests they like water or at least a moisture retentive soil.
This Hydrangea panniculata Limelight was one of several underplanting trees at Thorp Perrow Arboretum. In full flower at the beginning of September this Hydreagea was one of 70 or so species and varieties planted in the grounds. Different parts of the arboretum have soils with PH values of 6.7 to an acidic 4.6 . There is marshy and wet ground despite the 15,000 trees drawing water from the land.
This Hydrangea quercifolia or oak leaved hydrangea looks a bit bedraggled in the photograph but it looked marvelous insitu. Quercifolia are medium sized shrubs worth growing for the leaf colour in autumn.
The volume of flowers and bracts on the one head was astonishing. There are many interesting Hydrangeas to see at Thorpe Perrow and I recommend buying the authoritative catalogue (£3.75) listing the featured trees and shrubs by location, name, origin and often age.
Hydrangea Villosa group are hairy leaved shrubs. This glorious speceimen was at least 8 feet high and made a startling feature in moderately acid soil.
2012 has been a good wet year for Hydrangeas but please can we have more sun next summer.
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Hydrangeas make good houseplants flowering in spring from a shop bought plant. Hydrangea have been successfully grown as blooming house plants for many years. They are colourful full of flower and relatively trouble free if you give them a good drink of water regularly. Keep plants cool between 50-60 ° F when in flower but give them some good light.