Hydrangea: The best Christmas shrub

Here in South Africa, gardens are overflowing with hydrangea, their luscious heads lolling and adding dashes of blue, pink and Christmas cheer. In Afrikaans we call them “krismisrose”- Christmas roses.  Just like Christmas, they are associated with abundance – pay them a little attention, and your hydrangea will reward you over and over.

Hydrangea flowers

An abundance of hydrangea flowers welcome visitors to this house

4 Tricks to get the most from of your hydrangea.

1. Make sure they’re planted in well-drained soil. Although hydrangea like moisture, they don’t like wet feet.

2. Don’t plant it in deep shade. Your hydrangea shrub will perform best in a lightly shady spot.

3. Pruning a hydrangea depends on the type.  For best results, check whether your hydrangea flowers on old or new wood and prune accordingly. Those flowering on old wood, such as macrophylla,  flower on old wood and need only be pruned lightly to keep a good shape. Others, such as H. arborescens and  paniculata  carry their flowers on new wood. For larger blooms, prune it back to ground level in late winter.

4. Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer applied late spring and mid-summer, or add an organic mulch.

The real secret of changing the colour of your hydrangea blooms.

Many people believe that the colour of their hydrangea blooms depend on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil.

In fact, it depends on the aluminium content of the soil, with the pH only influencing the ability of the plant to absorb the aluminium. An acidic, aluminium-rich soil will result in blue flowers. Pink flowers like more alkaline soil, which can be achieved by adding lime to the soil.

These generous shrubs bring fleeting impressions of summer gardens with secretive corners to play hide and seek. Make a spot for these rewarding beauties in your garden, and have a look at The Ladybird Garden’s Hydrangea board on Pinterest for some inspiration.

Image: Hydrangea by Flicktone on Flickr. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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