The Long Lived Hydrangea Flower
I think no other flower can match the long lived hydrangea for longevity. I have had beautiful hydrangea blooms growing peacefully in my garden waiting to be picked for the past 3 months, during this time they have changed colour from blue to purple to mauve but only now when other flowers have become less abundant will I turn to the Hydrangea to adorn my table.
It is a common shrub in the garden although few people would class it as a cut flower, and bring it inside for home decoration. However, if you have a hydrangea growing in your garden you should definitely follow the practice of many flower arrangers who often use it in expensive arrangements, especially the white varieties, are a classic in wedding arrangements. Although they are expensive to buy in the floral trade, since they have such a large head in contrast to other flowers their space filling ability makes them worth their high price.
Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table: 31st Oct. – 6th Nov.
Botanical Name: Hydrangea . Common Name : Hydrangea.
Which Variety of Hydrangea to Buy:
Although there are many varieties, the most common Hydrangea is the macrophylla variety, which boasts the largest corymbs flowerheads. The actual design of the head depends on whether it is a lacecap or a hortensia variety. The hortensia’s generally have a larger mophead with all the large (sterile) florets of similar size, whilst the lacecap varieties tend to have smaller (fertile) florets in the centre surrounded by larger (sterile) florets.
It is widespread knowledge that the colour of the flowers will depend on the pH of the soil, acid soil with a pH of less than 5.5 will produce blue flowers whilst soils with a higher pH will produce pink flowers. This information is documented in many a text book, and it follows that acid or lime can be added to the soil to change the colour of the flower. Manufacturers even sell a ‘blueing compound’ to change the colour of your hydrangeas! It would definitely be a very original idea to have a natural make over in your garden with a total colour change every other year without having to change the plants and just by adding a bit of lime or acid to the soil. But although it is true in theory, in practice it is not so simple and some varieties are rather stubborn and are not prepared to change their colours just because of a sprinkling of some magic dust! The white varieties will definitely stay white whatever you throw at them!
How to Care For Hydrangeas
The plants are difficult to propagate but can be bought ready potted and planted at any time of the year, read the label carefully and plant a variety which will fit long term into its designated space as they dislike hard pruning. It is advisable to prune only in spring as the stems provide protection during the winter. When pruning, make sure not to cut off next year’s buds that lie in last year’s leaf axils as illustrated above.
How to Cut Hydrangeas
The prefix to their name – Hydra- reminds us that they are a water loving plant, the plant can often be seen with leaves on a hot summers day. Similarly the cut flowers must never be left without water, in the floral trade they are transported with small sacks of water attached to the stem. Even if immersed in water, often the flower will just droop and look shrivelled. This can be due to an air lock in the stem, – a remedy that usually works, is to place the stem into boiling water and leave it there until the water cools down, this unblocks the stem and allows it to draw water once again, – within a couple of hours the flower should return to its original state.
This time of the year most of the flowers on the shrub will already have donned their autumn hues and be a mauve colour, however if the tree was pruned to different lengths, even at this time of the year some fresh flowers will also be available, both are good for internal decoration, but the autumn coloured ones have already been weathered and can be kept and left in the water to make a long term dried flower.