Hydrangeas Offer Impressive Palette to Gardener
Hydrangeas Offer Impressive Palette to Gardener
Hydrangeas: Rhapsody in Blue -- or Cream or Pink
The billowy flower heads of the hydrangea come in a wide array of colors ranging from blue to pink to creamy white. The pH of the soil determines whether these attractive shrubs bear blue or pink flowers.
If you love blue flowers in your garden, few plants offer as many shades of this elusive color as hydrangeas. These reliable midsummer blooming shrubs for the most part require no care, and if a few simple cultural requirements are met they will bloom reliably in the garden for years.
Hydrangeas prefer a moist, well-drained soil, and do best when planted in locations that receive sun in the morning but are shaded from the hot afternoon sun. They also benefit from periodic watering during hot dry spells.
Flower color in hydrangeas is influenced by the presence of aluminum, as well as soil pH.
In order for flowers to be blue, the plant must have access to aluminum. If the soil naturally contains aluminum, the pH must be slightly acidic for the plants to access it. A range of 5.1 to 5.5 is ideal. To get the bluest hydrangeas possible, a solution of 1 tablespoon of aluminum sulfate per gallon of water can be applied to plants throughout the growing season. To avoid burning the roots, be sure to water plants well before applying solution.
When the pH is raised to a range of 6.0 to 6.2, hydrangeas will turn pink, as the bluing effect of the aluminum is locked up in the soil. If pink flowers are desired, adding dolomitic lime to soil several times per year will raise the soil pH. Take care not to raise the soil pH above 6.4, as an iron deficiency may occur that will turn the plant's leaves yellow.
Pruning hydrangeas can be confusing to some gardeners. A few simple tips will keep your plants in check and still provide an abundance of blooms.
First know what type hydrangea you have.
There are many different types, and their forms range from small shrubs to small trees. Flower color ranges from blue and purple to pink and near red to white and cream. Your local garden center can help you determine which type you have.
Most blue hydrangeas are either "mopheads," named after their round billowy flowers, or "lacecaps," named for their flat delicate flower heads. Both mophead and lacecap hydrangeas bloom on stems formed the previous season.
Start your pruning by removing all dead stems.
If you are unsure which stems are alive, just wait until growth has begun in the spring, or scratch the stem and look for green bark just under the surface. Stems with leaves sprouting from the sides are last season's stems and will bloom this year. Pruning them will remove this season's flowers; so don't cut them just yet.
After the shrub has finished blooming, cut back the plant back by one third. Be sure to do this before mid-July, as the plant will need time to start forming buds for next year.
A notable exception is the mophead hydrangea called 'Endless Summer,' which blooms on new growth each season and can be cut back in the fall or early spring without diminishing the number of flowers produced.
- Summertime Swaps: Quick Changes to Lighten Up Your Home Decor
- Hydrangeas Offer Impressive Palette to Gardener
- Best Tools and Materials Are Key to Good Paint Job
- Hot New Trend Is Cool Asian Design
- Growing Potatoes in the Garden Easier than You Think
- Banish Tar: Get a Greener Driveway
- Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveways
- Staining a Deck
- Modern Homesteading: How to Live Better on Less
- Better Sleep Begins with Good Bedroom Design
- Kitchen Hoods Take Center Stage
- Kitchen Cabinets that Conceal Appliances
- 15 Fresh Ways to Use Wallpaper
- 10 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Utility Bills
- Antidote for a Dull Planter: Chocolaty Goodness
- 10 Ways to Reuse and Save
- Hosting a Successful Yard Sale
- What to Do With Spring Cleaning Purges
- A Beeswax Balm You Can Make Yourself
- Keep Your House Spring-clean
- Exterior Lighting Makes Home More Appealing and Safer
- No Room for a Vegetable Garden? Think Again
- Food Scraps That Help Your Garden Thrive
- Designing a Nursery Around Color
- Birch Beautiful on the Table As Well As in Nature
- 5 Money-saving Gardening Tips
- Straighten Up in an Instant
- Deck Patio Rooftop Garden Ideas
- Growing a Family Garden
- 12 Hidden Costs of Homeownership
- Nine Ways to Make Your Home More Appealing to Buyers
- 5 Cheap and Easy Decorating Ideas
- Concrete Ideas on Turning Construction Leftovers into Garden Fixtures
- Attractive and Durable DIY Garden Vine Trellis
- How to Green Your Baby's Nursery
- 6 Simple Home Repair Jobs You Can Do Yourself
- How to Create a Crafty Home
- Better Spring Cleaning with Less Effort & More Fun
- Energy-Efficient Updates Help Homeowners Save Cash
- Don't Just Let that Rainwater Go Down the Drain
(c) 2010 Sean Conway