I like the idea of a climbing hydrangea more than the actual experience. Good specimens seem to produce a profusion of frothy, white blossoms particularly when grown by someone else.
My Problem Climbing Hydrangea
In my case I planted the sole attempt near a supporting wall. The soil my not be of the best quality, fertility nor humous rich. So what can I expect from Hydrangea petiolaris an Asian woodland native.
To compound my sins the wall faces north but in mitigation it is only 2 feet high and the climber now occupies both sides. However flowers are there none or sparse to say the least.
Nostrums, potions and plenty of compost have not stimulated leaf or branch growth so what hope of flowers.
I expected this Hydrangea to take a while to settle in and start producing but 5 years on and my patience is wearing thin. I guess that is true of the plant which is still keen on revenge for my earlier mistakes over its location.
I would prune it after flowering in mid summer but without flowers to set me off I have been a bit too lax. Then again the plant is a bit lax too.
In researching this post I discover Hydrangea anomala is a species of vine hydrangea and may be my plant is as confused as I am.
I trim the vine to control its height and width or make cuts at leaf nodes to encourage the plant to fill out. However I may be chopping of my buds to spite my face.
Where too Now
Cut my losses and turf the climbing hydrangea out.
Take cuttings and try new locations more in keeping with its needs. A poor strain of plant will not get better after vegetative propagation.
Stick with it and be happy there is one plant to have a moan about.
Either move to the south of the UK or buy this book about getting Hydrangeas to bloom in the north.
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.
Provide Suitable Growing Conditions
All hydrangeas thrive in moist well drained fertile soil.
Too wet and humid and you may get root rot and botrytis on foliage.
Hydrangeas appreciate partial shade.
Shallow chalky soil or light sandy acid soil may cause yellowing of leaves. To cure this water or foliar feed with Epsom salt (Mangenisum Sulphate).
Hot dry conditions can encourage powdery mildew.
Hydrangeas can be prone to insect attack from Aphids, Red Spider mite, Capsid bugs and even Vine Weevil.
The main cause of non-flowering is pruning too hard and cutting off the buds. Just trim off the old heads in spring to the first fat buds.
The failure of flowers to turn blue is caused by a shortage of trace elements of Aluminium. This is available in acid soils but not alkaline soils.
Some species will change from pink to blue by using a proprietary preparation or colourant. This is unlikely to work when the soil is too alkaline.
If you have a pink flower this can be enhanced by applying limestone or chalk during winter.
White flowers remain white whatever you do. Some fade to a pink tinge.
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.
Hint and comments on Hydrangeas
Named after the Greek for water keep your Hydrangeas moist
Hydrangea quercifolia has oak shaped leaves and flowers white in the shade.
Lacecap varieties have a looser form to the flowers with flat open flower heads where the florets don’t all open at once. Try variety maresii
Buy plants in bloom so you know what you are getting in colour and form or plant in Autumn
Hydrageas like rich moist soil and a bit of shade in the early morning to avoid frost damage to young shoots
Prune out old flower heads, dead stems and old wood from overgrown bushes in the spring
Hydrangeas can be used as cut flowers or dried for a papery addition to a winter arrangement
A dwarf species H. thunbergii grows to about 2 foot.
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.
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.
Getting More Flower Heads
Feed with phosphorous rich fertliser like bone meal.
Water well from early spring to encourage growth but remember Hydrangeas flower on old wood.
Prune with care I repeat ‘remember Hydrangeas flower on old wood.’
Blooms come from buds set in the autumn at the tips of stems.
Reduce the number of stems on the plant in early autumn.
Hydra may be a monster but Hydrangeas can be stunningly beautiful.
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. …
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.
New Hydrangeas can be planted in Autumn with a good mulch of shredded bark or compost.
In Spring cut out old flower heads and dead stems. Cut just above an outward facing bud.
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.
Hydrangeas grown in the presence of metal salts, particularly Iron or Aluminium sulphates, will turn blue.
Plants growing in acid soil will turn the best form of blue but acid soil on its own is no guarantee of a blue Hydrangea.
Pale pink varieties tend to change to the deepest blue.
Dark pink varieties tend to turn mauve or muddy purple when treated with metal salts.
Blue varieties will seldom turn pink unless all the metal salts are washed out and withheld. Even then it may be a naturally pink variety.
You can buy a bluing agent or colourant from a garden centerelp change the colour from pink to blue. You can introduce metal salts in other ways like us to hing rusty nails or even tealeaves in the soil.
Pot and Container Grown Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas need plenty of water – just a reminder. However they can be grown in pots both outdoors and as a houseplant.
Mix blueing agent if required with the soil when potting a hydrangea. Water weekly with a solution of water and colourant dissolved in a little hot water then diluted per the instructions on the packet.
Help White Hydrangeas
White varieties of Hydrangea will stay white despite the gardener.
As white flowers age they may take on a pink tinge to the outer-side of the petals.
White flowers will last longer with some shade before turning brown.
The Hydrangea panniculata Limelight pictured has a natural green tinge that looks very attractive under larger trees.
Mophead Hydrangea Macrophylla ayesha shown above is purple on this neutral London soil and flowers on previous seasons wood.
Most neutral and alkaline soils produce pink Hydrangeas whilst an acid soil will have a blue flower.
White Hydrangeas remain white or the bracts get tinged pink as they age.
These colour rules apply to Lacecap hydrangeas where the bract-petals don’t all open and have a looser more subtle effect.
To turn a pink Hydrangea blue add aluminium salts or iron salts. You can add by powder or colourant mixes.
A Pink hydrangea needs no aluminium and lime is used to restrict its uptake of metal salts.
Hydrangea arborescens is smaller than many hydrangeas, they are around 3ft height and spread. One of the best varieties is ‘Annabelle’ which is a mound forming shrub which is compact and requires little pruning. The flowers are a very showy, large and white.
Hydrangea paniculata are generally larger and have a large cone or pantical of flowers
Hydrangea quercifolia has large lobed leaves like oak leaves
Hydrangea anomala is a climbing plant that has attractive mahogany brown stems and lush, bright green, deciduous foliage. The lacecap flowers last just a few weeks in summer.