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The Latest On Hydrangeas!

Gone are the days when mophead hydrangeas only flowered for a few short weeks around Christmas. They now stay with you from spring until autumn – some reblooming and others using day length to dramatically change the colours of their long-lasting blooms.

‘Endless Summer’

Modern series and hybrids are taking hydrangeas to the next level. For example, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’ flowers on both current and a previous season’s growth, giving them the potential to rebloom and extending their flowering season from October to April. These plants have a vigorous, rounded growth habit with dark green glossy foliage, and have excellent winter hardiness. Mature size is 90 x 150cm. In this range you can buy ‘Endless Summer Blue’ and ‘Pink’, ‘Blushing Bride’ and ‘Bloomstar’.

Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer Blushing Bride’ has pure white flowers maturing to a blush pink or blue flower, depending on the soil pH. It is a fast rebloomer.

‘You and Me’

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘You and Me Miss Saori’ was honoured as The Plant of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2014. This is a dwarf hydrangea with a compact and bushy growth habit (90 x 100cm) with tiered flowerheads densely packed with double-petalled white flowers with deep rose margins. It flowers from early spring to autumn. The dark green foliage will turn burgundy to ruby-red, adding even more glory to this interesting plant.

‘Magical’

The growers of the Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Magical’ series say their plants are able to stay in flower for 150 days, with strong globular blooms in pinks and blues (dependent on soil pH) that intensify in colour as they age. They later evolve into different hues of rustic and romantic autumn-like shades on the same flower, due to a sensitivity to day length, but don’t lose any of their charm. They are the chameleons of the hydrangea world and will drive floral artists wild with long-lasting flowers on sturdy stems that last very well in the vase. Apart from being magnificent garden plants, they are also perfect for patio containers and also as flowering indoor plants.

‘Magical Noblesse’ – white flowers with a green crest. As the flowering season progresses the flowers become increasingly green.

‘Magical Coral’ – the strong round flowers can be pink or blue, and will mature to near red with violet edges. The final colour is lime green with white edges.

‘Magical Daydream’ – bright pink with green markings changing to green and red.

‘Magical Amethyst’ – flowers can be pink or blue, changing to a deep red colour.

General growth tips for hydrangeas

Being deciduous, hydrangeas are cold hardy and will survive frost if protected by frost cloth and the mulching of their roots. They will also grow well at the coast if protected from wind.

Position: Dappled shade – morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. If the shade is too deep, you will not get many flowers. If you want to plant a mass of hydrangeas together in a bed, the southern side of the house would be an ideal location.

Soil: Compost-enriched loamy soil with good drainage is essential. Also supply a good mulch of compost or leaf mould over the root system after planting.

Water: Hydrangeas like regular and deep watering. Established plants will need less, but the soil should never dry out completely for prolonged periods. It is best to water along soil level to keep the flowers dry. On very hot days you can spritz the foliage to increase humidity levels, which can help to curb leaf burn and infestation of red spider mite. Those in pots must be kept moist.

Fertilising: Feed every 6 – 8 weeks from spring to autumn with a slow-release fertiliser or specialised hydrangea food. Plants in pots can be fed monthly with a water-soluble fertiliser.

Pruning modern hydrangeas

Cutting flower stems for the vase is a way of pruning the plants during the flowering season. Other than that, the removal of dead, weak, damaged and diseased stems is more than enough. Decaying flowers can be left on the plants over winter, which would protect new buds from frost and cold. In early spring they can be removed by cutting off the stems below a flowerhead.

Blue or pink flowers?

The colour of the flowers (and its intensity) is determined by the chemical profile of the soil in which the hydrangea is growing in. Acidic soil with a low pH that is rich in aluminium will produce blue flowers. Alkaline soil that lacks aluminium will produce pink flowers. A specially formulated acidic fertiliser that turns hydrangea flowers blue is available at nurseries and must be applied regularly from late winter until late autumn. (In the nursery industry, the growing medium is manipulated to produce plants with either blue or pink flowers; the flower colour of those same plants may vary once they are planted in a garden, depending on the soil.)

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