30 July 2016 by Dr Jane Bingham
Hydrangeas are one of our best-loved shrubs with their huge frothy blooms in varying shades of blue, violet, pink, red, white, cream and green. Unlike most other plants, Hydrangea flowers can change colour quite dramatically as they age or, in the case of Hydrangea macrophylla, with soil type. Their leaves are striking too and can have good autumn colour.
There are numerous types of hydrangea:
Hydrangea macrophylla (Mopheads and Lacecaps)
This is the most well-known group of hydrangeas. They are sometimes referred to as florist’s/pot hydrangeas or Hortensias and make a lovely gift for someone special. In most Hydrangea macrophylla varieties the flowers change colour according to the acidity/alkalinity of the soil or compost in which they are growing. They have lilac to deep blue flowers in acid soil whereas the flowers change to pink or mauve in neutral to limy/chalky soils. You can turn pink flowers back to blue by using Hydrangea colourant (e.g. Growing Success Hydrangea Colourant). White flowers are unaffected by soil acidity, although they often age to pink.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Kanmara Series’ was introduced at the Chelsea Flower Show this year by Hilliers. These garden shrubs are compact and robust with long-lasting beautiful blooms in a range of six pastel colours that fade to green and red in autumn.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘The Magical Four Seasons Revolution Series’ are Mopheads with blue or pink flowers that turn red with age. Numerous beautiful flower heads are produced over a long season.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Teller Series’ e.g. ‘Blue Sky’ are stunning Lacecaps, which have flattened flower heads with a dome of tiny flowers surrounded by a ring of showy flowers that flutter like butterflies.
These garden shrubs have huge cone-shaped clusters of flowers that go through beautiful colour changes as they age.
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’ – green to white to dark pink
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Wim’s Red’ – white to pink to wine red
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Diamante Rouge’ – white to pink to deep red
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Magical Candle’ has white flowers that seem to glow soft yellow.
This group has large globes of fluffy flowers that fade to green as they age. The spent heads look beautiful throughout the winter.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is a stunning example. It is available in white or pink.
And there’s more…
There are many other types to choose from such as the Oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia), the Mountain hydrangea (H. macrophylla subsp. serrata) and the Bracted hydrangea (H. involucrata). There are even climbing hydrangeas, such as H. anomala subsp. petiolaris.
Come and choose from our dazzling display here at The Mains of Drum.
How to grow Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are easy to grow. They flower best with shelter from cold drying winds. It is a good idea to leave the old flower heads on over winter to protect the buds underneath from the cold. Try to avoid exposed east-facing sites, where cold winds may damage young spring growth, and also avoid dry spots in full sun. Hydrangeas have shallow, fleshy roots and love water. They thrive in well-drained, moist soil (not soggy), that is rich in organic matter. Some favour a sunny spot, whilst most do better with part shade/part sun (refer to the plant label).
Special offer: 25% Off Selected Ericaceous Plants
from Monday 1st August.
This offer applies to all of our Magnolias, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas while stocks last. These plants have spectacular flowers from early spring to early summer.
They thrive in acid soil and such plants are called ericaceous plants. Help them along by mixing ericaceous compost into well-drained soil at planting time. Thereafter, each spring mulch the moist soil surface with a thin layer of ericaceous compost, pulverized bark, pine needles or leaf mould to trap in moisture and maintain the acidity of the soil. Feed with ericaceous fertiliser and keep plants well watered in dry spells, particularly in late summer and autumn when next year’s flower buds are forming.
Smaller varieties can be grown in pots.
Reminders for August
Feed tomatoes regularly with a high-potash feed (e.g. Tomorite)
Continue to feed hanging baskets and containers to prolong the display of flowers. Use Miracle Gro, Phostrogen or Tomorite
Sow new lawns now, choosing a seed mix that is appropriate to how the lawn will be used
Apply autumn lawn fertiliser while the weather is still warm
Apply a top dressing of fertiliser to long season crops like Brussels sprouts, kale and leeks
Give evergreen hedges like holly, laurel, yew and box their final trim of the season.
Cut out old fruited canes of summer raspberries after harvesting
Remember to water fruit trees, particularly those growing in dry soil at the base of walls, to help the developing fruits to swell
Harvest chillies – they keep well in the fridge or you can freeze or dry them
Dr Jane Bingham