Hydrangeas in the Garden
In good hydrangea years, years without a late season hard freeze, having hydrangeas in the garden is very rewarding. Even in difficult years there are hydrangeas that will preform beautifully. Hydrangeas can provide masses of color, interesting flowers and striking foliage, a gardener’s dream.
There are many kinds of hydrangeas. There are the big mop heads, the lovely lace caps and cone shaped flower types. There are even climbing hydrangeas. Some bloom early in the season, usually June in the Piedmont NC area, and others bloom later. Then there are some that continue to bloom throughout the season, if conditions are to their liking.
The challenge for the gardener is getting to know and understand the needs of the hydrangeas you are growing. Each type has its own requirements. Some bloom on new growth, some bloom on last years growth and some do both. Confusing, yes, it can be. For this reason it helps to identify the hydrangeas you are growing and learn about them. KnowIng if and when to prune is important. If you have a hydrangea that blooms on old growth and you prune late fall or early spring you will reduce or eliminate the blooms for that year. If you are growing an Annabelle type that blooms on new growth you may want to cut the plant back severely in early spring to encourage strong new growth. Hydrangeas that bloom on new growth will still bloom in the years with a late freeze, the weather that damages the buds of many hydrangeas.
Some hydrangeas have blooms that respond to the soil pH. In a more acidic soil, lower than 6.0, the flowers will be blue because the plant can tap into the aluminum in the soil which encourages the blue color. In alkaline soils the aluminum is blocked and the blooms are pink. Some hydrangeas have bloom colors that are determined by their genetics, so the pH doesn’t make a difference.
Hydrangeas are enticing plants that will fulfill their potential with thoughtful planting and care. Enjoy them.
Hint, more mature blooms will last longer in arrangements. Soaking the entire stem and bloom in warm water for 10 minutes or so will extend the life of the cut flower.