I received an email last week asking how to plant hydrangeas, sure I thought, but I thought I had better learn a little more about them first.
I was surprised to read Hydrangeas are native to southern and eastern Asia, only because they do well in so many places. Japan uses Hydrangea serrata as herbal tea due to its sweet taste. Please be very careful as many Hydrangeas are toxic if eaten and can irritate skin.
Hydrangeas are a brilliant ornamental flowering plant, great for using as a dining table feature in a pretty vase. Cut them when the blooms are fully developed, they do wilt a little quicker than other flowers so it’s best to experiment.
Sizes vary, depending on the variety ranges can be between 60cm (24″) to 2m (7′) or more.
How to plant Hydrangeas
Selecting the location
Most species do love the sun, but others like to have protection from the hot afternoon sun. The best way to find out about a variety you’re interested in would be to speak with your local nursery. Planting during early Autumn or spring produces the best results.
You should plant them in well draining soil somewhere thats protected from high winds. They do need some space to grow, so keep them around 1m away from neighbouring plants.
Digging the hole
The hole should be around twice the size of the root ball and around the same depth. As with most plants, some manure or fertiliser in the hole helps to kickstart strong growth.
Backfill the hole and lightly compress the soil with your foot. You can than water it in.
Water deeply once a week or even twice, if the weather is particularly hot or dry. Plants in pots are likely to need daily watering.
Certain species don’t really ever require pruning, however will need a clean up from time to time. Due to their being so many species, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ for pruning, so ask when you’re purchasing from a nursery. Rule of thumb would be to only cut into the green and not back into the older wood. Stems that haven’t flowered will flower in the next season.
How to Adjust Hydrangea Color
Hydrangeas may produce pink, blue, or lavender blooms, depending on pH level. Alkaline soils, pH of 7.0 or more, are more likely to produce pink blooms, and more acidic soils, pH 5.0 or less produce blue flowers. By applying aluminium and iron or lime you can achieve the desired color, however white hydrangeas will always remain white.