Handsome Hydrangeas

by Su Whale on September 1, 2010

Big, beautiful and blowsy, hydrangeas are at their absolute best in the garden at the moment. Their bold cauliflower like heads, although reminiscent of old fashioned cottage gardens, are equally at home in modern surroundings and designs.

Fully coloured hydrangeas are greenish and have hints of other colours within; these types are known as ‘classic’. They are characterised by their long vase life and are ideal for drying.

Young hydrangeas, which have not matured to that stage, are known as ‘fresh’ and are normally available in late spring, early summer. The classic hydrangea arrives in late summer and autumn.

The more mature the flower head, the longer lasting the flower. Add cut flower food to the water to extend the vase life up to 2 – 3 weeks. During that time change the water every three or four days, re-cutting a little off the stem when you do. Never stand hydrangeas in direct sunlight or leave out of water. If they start to look a little tired, they can be re-hydrated by being plunged upside down in a bucket of cold water – it does work, I’ve tried it!

If you want to dry hydrangea, the classic types are generally more successful as the flower head is more mature. Drying them is really easy; all you have to do is leave them in a vase in a small amount of water which they will gradually absorb.

Once dry, they can last for weeks which make them fantastic value for money.

Beautiful and adaptable, one of the wonderful things about hydrangea is their ability to change colour as they mature. This is down to the type of soil they are growing in which is reflected by the colour of the flowers. If the pH of the soil is neutral, they will bloom white or cream, if the soil is more alkaline then the flowers will be pink and purple, and finally acidic soil produces blue flowers. So if you’ve seen hydrangea shrubs growing in a garden where the flowers are all slightly different colours and wondered why– it’s all down to the soil.

Hydrangeas originate mainly from Eastern Asia, although there are a few varieties native to North America. Once introduced into Europe they established themselves very quickly, the Portuguese island of Faial in the Azores is known as the ‘blue island’ due to the hundreds of hydrangeas that grow there.

If you want to display hydrangea at home, don’t be put off by their size. Choose a tall vase and try using the hydrangeas at their full height. Arrange them with some leafy twigs and you will have an eye-catching, impressive display.

Alternatively, place heads of green classic hydrangea into a low bowl and frame them with a collar of bergenia leaves, (also prolific in the garden) for a crisp and contemporary coffee table design.

Images supplied courtesy of the Flower Council of Holland

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Su Whale

Post category: Care Tips, Knowledge  

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jess 17 Sep 2010 at 11:49 pm

Thank you for this post! I never knew that the colour of hydrangeas is down to the soil (now I can wow my green-fingered mother with a bit of my own specialist knowledge!!). I’ve not had much luck growing them in my garden yet, but they are my absolute most favourite flower. I always struggle to find a florist near me that sells stems, but have very fond memories of my now other half walking all the way to my workplace to put some on my car for me to find when I came out of work in an attempt to woo me (he still hasn’t forgiven me for calling him a stalker that day…oops!). These beautiful photographs have made me smile!

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