My grandfather Emanis’ favourite plant was the massive blue hydrangea close to the top of his porch, by the swing. Now that my grandparents are gone, I’ve grown to cherish hydrangeas as nicely.

The frequent, showy shrub we name the “French” hydrangea shouldn’t be from France. The truth is, Hydrangea macrophylla is a local of Japan. The French had been accountable, nevertheless, for a lot of its breeding across the flip of the final century. The outcomes have been divided into two distinct teams, the hortensias (mopheads) and the lacecaps. The 2 varieties of macrophylla hydrangea are straightforward sufficient to tell apart. Hortensias bear clusters of showy largely sterile flowers, which give them their giant “mop head” look. Lacecaps have a middle of nonshowy fertile flowers surrounded by a hoop of showy sterile flowers. There are various cultivars of each sorts, however hortensias are by far the commonest sort of hydrangea in East Texas gardens, and are additionally common as a supply of recent and dried minimize flowers.

The primary hydrangea within the South, if not in Southern gardens, was H. quercifolia, the oakleaf hydrangea, a local of the southeastern U.S. This plant was named by William Bartram and launched into English gardens in 1803. Along with the aromatic, showy, white flowers it bears in summer season, this shrub’s foliage colours nicely within the fall. Probably the most lovely specimens I’ve ever seen are on the Birmingham Botanical Backyard. There are a variety of cultivars of oakleaf hydrangea accessible immediately together with one with double flowers, a quantity than age to pink, one other with golden foliage, and even a dwarf one. All of them make spectacular specimens in partly shaded gardens and like all hydrangeas, produce lovely minimize flowers, both recent or dried.

Hydrangeas require a unfastened, well-drained natural soil and loads of moisture to thrive.

They sometimes want one inch of irrigation each week or two in the course of the months of June, July, and August and are susceptible to wilting on scorching summer season days. Strive to not moist the foliage as some cultivars are susceptible to leaf spot ailments. They need to be flippantly pruned again yearly to maintain them from wanting “messy,” however make your cuts proper after blooming, for pruning later within the season, particularly in wintertime, removes the buds that make the next season’s flowers.

There are newer cultivars that bloom on new wooden in addition to previous, however I’d nonetheless prune them after their blooms fade and never in the course of the winter aside from tidying up unfastened ends.

Most mop head hydrangeas are distinctive in that they serves as a form of dwelling litmus paper; acidic soils trigger them to bear blue flowers, whereas extra alkaline soils flip the flowers pink. Shades between the 2 are sometimes seen as nicely. Aluminum sulfate, a soil acidifier, could also be added to the soil to acquire blue flowers, and lime could also be added to create pink ones.

Greg Grant is the Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. He’s writer of Texas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Heirloom Gardening within the South, and The Rose Rustlers. You possibly can learn his “Greg’s Ramblings” weblog at arborgate.com, learn his “In Greg’s Backyard” in every concern of Texas Gardener journal (texasgardener.com), and observe him on Fb at “Greg Grant Gardens.” Extra science-based garden and gardening data from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service may be discovered at aggieturf.tamu.edu and aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu.

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