Flower of the Month - Hydrangea

blue hydrangea plant


Hydrangeas have for a long time been a very popular flower to be used for weddings and events as well as flowers for your home. They look particularly pretty on its own or with a few stems of eucalyptus in a fishbowl vase on your coffee table. The hydrangea have been especially significant in Japan, where it's believed the flower have originated from. According to a Japanese legend, the hydrangea became associated with heartfelt emotion, gratitude for understanding, and apology after a Japanese emperor gave them to the family he loved to make up for neglecting her in favour of business and show how much he cared about her. 

There are different theories of where the name hydrangea comes from but one of them is that in 1739 the botanist Grovonius gave the flower its Latin name hydrangea. He thought the shape resembled an ancient water pitcher. Combining the words 'hydro' (=water) and 'angeion' (=barrel or pitcher) resulted in the name Hydrangea. The flower also have the more common name, hortensia, that the French botanist Philibert Commerson came up with in 1771. 

There are four different types of hydrangeas and the need to be pruned in different ways. The most common hydrangea is the macrophylla and it's divided into two kinds, the 'mop head' hydrangea and the 'lace cap' hydrangea. The 'mop head' is the shape of a round ball and the 'lace cap' have many smaller florets in the centre and open flower around the outside. Another type of hydrangea is the arborescens hydrangea, which is popular in designer gardens. The last type is the paniculata hydrangea and they have large coned shaped flowers.



FUN FACTS


  • Different coloured hydrangeas have different meanings; pink symbolise heartfelt emotion, blue symbolise frigidity and apology, white symbolise boasting or bragging and purple hydrangeas symbolise a desire to deeply understand someone.
  • Victorians considered hydrangeas a negative plant, and used to represent vanity and boastfulness because hydrangeas produce magnificent flowers but very few seeds.
  • There are around 70-75 species of hydrangea.
  • They grow everywhere, from Southern Asia to the Americas.
  • They require a lot of water.
  • The colours of the flowers are affected by the aluminium ions in the soil. 
  • Hydrangeas drink from the flower petals as well as the roots of the stem.
  • They are extremely poisonous.
  • Some hydrangeas have leaves that turn red in the autumn. 


hydrangea pink plant

WHEN PLANING HYDRANGEAS..

It's important to first decide the spot you want to plant your hydrangea. If you have a sunny spot you are better of planting peniculata or arborescens varieties. For shady spots choose the macrophylla types. 

The hole should be twice as wide as your plant and the same depth. This allows the roots of the plant to spread out properly. Loosen the soil around the plant and mix in organic matter such as compost to enrich the soil. Gently loosen the roots of your plant before placing it in the hole. Make sure you keep the plant well watered, especially the first year after planting it. 

The 'lace cap' and 'mop head' hydrangeas should be pruned in February or early spring. Just cut off the dead flower head and the first set of leaves. If you have planted arborescens or peniculata hydrangeas, you need to prune these right down hard to the very first flower buds. This should also be done in February or early spring. 



THE COLOUR

The colour of your hydrangea is determined from the acidity of your soil. The more acidic your soil is the deeper blue your hydrangea will be. If the hydrangea is growing in a more alkaline soil it will produce pink blooms. You can change the colour of your hydrangea by watering it with acidic infused water during the spring. 
White hydrangeas never change colour, except when it's getting old where it can turn slightly pink. If you have a light pink hydrangea and you start noticing it producing darker pink blooms it's because the plant is getting old. There is nothing wrong with the plant, but the older it gets the deeper its colour become. 


Also read: Flower Of The Month - Delphinium