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Hydrangea These plants were never one of my favorites until recent years. I suppose as time rolled on so did my liking for this unusual broad leafed plant with large blooms. The flower heads are made up of lots of smaller ones like little clusters of five petalled flowerlets all bunched into one larger ball making a pom pom effect with each head. Quite ingenious really when you take a good look at them. The broad leaves a sort of oval shaped with fine hairs to them making a nice green foliage to the background. I have grown to love these remarkable flowers and have found them easy to grow and seperate into smaller plants. I say this because I was always lead to believe they were hard to grow. I have found this not to be so. I moved my large plant to another site last year and in doing so managed to make several plants from the one larger one. Making a nice screen at the bottom of my garden of hydrangea. I know that this year I am unlikely to receive the benefit of flower heads as this move caused the plant some severe pruning as well. However it is now producing new greenery and all seven bushes have taken to their new home well. I guess it just liked the soil and conditions and is doing remarkably well. I will keep my fingers crossed for flowers but hold out hope for next year if not. I think they are a bit like peonies to grow in as much as if they are cut back hard as they do not like it too much and certainly are not supposed to like being moved but we will see. Apparently there are several different species of hydrangea and I have the most common one which is a blue I think the name is Hortencia or something like that. There are also pink and redish varieties in the type I have. I have been around several garden centers and found that the cheapest plant of a similar size to my small ones run at around £4.99 and the larger go to any price upward of that my dearest find so far was £19.95. So I have made massive savings by splitting my plant and hope for a great dividend later with new flowers. I have been told that the colour of the plants depend on the soil they grow in for instance if you grow them in slightly acid soil like mine your likely to get blue flowers and alcaline soil is more likely to produce pink flowers. I do not know if this is correct so if anyone know any different please let me know as I would like to get it right. Either way I am looking forward to my hedge of hydrangea taking full bloom soon and hopefully they will give me a nice burst of colour whatever it may be. These flowers are about the size of a small saucer and look so lovely when the butterflies flit around them and the bees just love the nectar too. They smell slightly sweet and cloying when young and look lovely in a flower display. They will last quite a long time when the flowers come out into full bloom giving you a display for a good few months once they start to open. If you dead head them they will grow more fresh heads for months onwards. Last year mine stopped flowering in around November which is very late for us.
The Hydrangea is a well known deciduous shrub native to China, Japan, the Himalayas and North and South America. They come in several different varieties. By far the most popular and well known is the variety Macrophylia and this is split into two groups: Lace Cap and Hortensia (also known as Mophead). Probably the best known is Hortensia which is the familiar shrub seen in gardens right across the country with large, spherical flowers in pink or blue or sometimes red. The variety was named after Hortense, daughter of the 18th century botanist, Prince de Nassau. Lace Cap is a similar shrub except that the flowers are flat in appearance with the small flowers surrounded by florets and, as the name suggests, resembling the lace cap that used to be worn by the ladies of the Georgian era. Hydrangea Paniculata is a little larger, growing to about six feet. It has cone shaped flowers in white which appear in late summer and early autumn. Hydrangea Petiolaris on the other hand, is a climbing variety also with white flowers but of the Lace Cap type. This is a self clinging plant and will happily grow up a north facing wall and once established will grow to a great height. It can climb to about 75 feet if the surrounding area suits it. The only pruning it really requires is to keep it within the bounds you have set it. Hydrangea Quercifolia is known for its bold foliage, not unlike oak leaves and which are often richly coloured in autumn. This has pendant, cream lacy panicles from midsummer to autumn. Hydrangeas grow well in moist ground in semi shaded areas. In hot weather they will require watering well as they will soon droop if they become too dry. They will soon recover when watered as long as they are not left too long. They should be pruned in spring mainly to remove the old flower heads, dead wood and just to keep the shrub in a good shape. It is recommended that the old flower heads are left on over winter to protect the plant from frost damage. Cuttings should be taken in August and are usually very successful at this time. The usual colours are pink, blue, white and red, although the blue variety requires an acid soil to retain its colour and will turn pink without help unless it has this. You can buy blueing compounds which contain aluminium sulphate to keep the flowers blue. Two newcomers are: Love you Kiss which has red foliage with white flowers edged with pink and Mirai which has colour-changing, appleblossom flowers. Hydrangeas are often bought as a flowering pot plant. They can, however, be successfully planted into the garden when they have stopped flowering and providing the conditions are suitable. They are quite easy to grow and will provide a very good display for many years if looked after. Thank you for reading.