Hydrangeas – everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas in your garden – Hydrangeas are one of the most amazing flowers you can have in the garden and I’ve come here to Signature Hydrangeas in Kent to talk to hydrangea specialist Roger Butler about how to choose and care for hydrangeas it’s Alexandra here from The Middle sized Garden YouTube channel and blog Hydrangeas start flowering around mid summer and they go on often until around the end of November.
Some of their flowers keep their shape in winter so they look fantastic in frosty gardens and others have leaves which contribute to autumn color because they change into wonderful reds and golds.
On top of that hydrangeas grow in almost any soil, they adore the shade and some of them are quite happy in the sun and they also will grow in quite difficult conditions like woodland gardens or coastal gardens. And hydrangeas are fairly trouble-free you when it comes to pests – deer and rabbits actually don’t like them because the leaves are slightly toxic and when it comes to slugs and snails Roger Butler says that there is a small problem there, but actually you can deal with it using natural methods.
At Signature Hydrangeas they have fairly wildlife friendly gardening and so they do use some organic slug and snail controls such as nematodes but other wise the birds and the hedgehogs and the frogs take care of their slug and snail problem and I’ve certainly found that in my garden – I’ve never seen any it’s like all snail damage on my hydrangeas.
There are four main kinds of hydrangea and it’s a good idea to know the difference because you need to prune them in different ways. The most common sort of hydrangea is the macrophylla and that’s the hydrangea that most of us think of, and those divide into two types:there’s the mop heads and the lace caps.
The mop heads are just simply round balls – they’re like mop heads and the lace caps have a rather delicate filigree appearance in the center where they’ve got little buds and then open flowers around the outside.
Mop heads and lace caps both need to be pruned in February or in early spring and Roger suggests that you simply snip off the dead flowers and one set of leaves just above a a fat bud which will bethe next summer’s flowers. If you cut back the stems of mop heads and lace too far you will actually cut off the flower buds.
The next two types of hydrangea are growing in popularity – one of them you’ve probably seen in designer gardens a lot over the last ten years and that’s hydrangea arborescens.
Arborescens hydrangeas are known as wild hydrangeas in the United States or even smooth hydrangeas and along with paniculata hydrangeas, they need really hard pruning.
Hydrangeas – everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas in your garden
Paniculata hydrangeas have got cone shaped flowers and Roger says thatthese are growing in popularity really fast – he’s noticed more people buying paniculata over the last few years than any other kind of hydrangea.
When you’re pruning arborescens and paniculatas you need to prune them right down hard down to the last two buds from the ground and once again this is done in February or early March.
And the last type of hydrangea that I’ll talk about is the oak leaf hydrangeas and you can recognize these because their leaves are quite literally like oak tree leaves.
The foliage of oak leaf hydrangeas changes color in the autumn so they’re a wonderful part of the autumn garden and they only need very light pruning.
Oak leaf hydrangeas will generally with stand drought and cold even better than any of the other hydrangeas so they are good for difficult conditions and all you need to do when pruning them in Februaryor early March is to snip off the dead flowers and take out any stems that arespoiling the shape – they really only need very light pruning.
So let’s get on to how to choose and care for hydrangeas Roger says that one of the things that puzzle people most about hydrangeas is the issue of their color.
Well, hydrangeas hydrangea macrophylla (mop heads and lace caps)change their color with the acidity of the soil and this plant here has been grown in a very acid soil of a pH of five and it has a lot of aluminium sulfate watered into it – actually it’s in a snow release form here in in the compost which is why it’s such a lovely blue.
If that was growing on an alkaline soil it would be deep pink. White is white – it doesn’t matter what happens though when the flowers age they do change – some of them go pink. What would you advise on how we should choose hydrangeas?
Well you should consider the site that you’re using to start with. If you have a sunny site you’re better off planting paniculata or arborescens varieties and if you’ve got light to heavy shade or woodland conditions the macrophylllas and the serratas are the best bet.
And where in the garden is the best place to grow yourhydrangeas?
Well, if you’re growing macro phyllas, they don’t need to be in full sun because in a hot summer, the flowers will burn – particularly the white ones so you’re better off to keep them in a shady spot or a light shade, so they’re not in the sun all day and otherwise you can just put the others anywhere. Paniculatas like being in full sun and the arborescens varieties like Annabelle like being in full sun.
And what is the best time of year to plant a hydrangea? Well you can plant them virtually any time of the year as long as you care for them properly and water them well during the summer. Which plants grow well with hydrangeas?
Well generally I would suggest that you grow hydrangeas on their own because the macrophyllas are quite dense plants and it’s not particularly good to have plants that need sun right next to them and my personal feeling is that they look better planted on their own, although you can dot them in borders in groups.
Can they be moved – if you’ve got a hydrangea in the wrong place, can you move it? Y yes you can move them – the best time to move them once you’ve planted them is the end of October, early November and plant them and get them back in the ground as soon as possible.
And do hydrangeas grow indoors at all? Lots of the macrophyllas now are grown as pot plants or patio pot plants and house plants and these are of course forced because you now can buy hydrangeas in flower from February through till November, Could you plant those out in the garden afterwards?
You can definitely but you’ve got to be quite careful at what time of the year you plant them out – I would suggest that if you have plants that are flowering early it’s fine to plant them out after they finish flowering but if you have plants that flower say from September on wards it’s best to keep the min the pots and plant them out in the spring because their season has been totally interrupted by being in cold store and then forced under glass. What if your hydrangea is wilting- what should you do?
Well hydrangeas that are wilting are usually still in pots and it’s usually because they’re too dry or they’ve been standing in water and lost a lot of root. S if they’re dry soak them completely and if they’re sitting in water let the water drain away.
And do you need to feed hydrangeas? Yes they’re quite gross feeders – you feed them in the spring we feed them with Osmocote which is a coated slow release fertilizer in the garden – you can use blood fish and bone, which is ideal for it.
I would feed them at the end of February or early March and possibly again in July orearly August after they flower but not too much fertilizer for the autumn.
And are there any particular hydrangeas that attract bees? The bees seem to like the lace cap varieties and the paniculatas And what would you say to people who are worried that their hydrangeas are not flowering?
Quite often the the plants that don’t flower have been pruned incorrectly – when you grow hydrangea macrophylla you must understand that the new the flowering buds for next year are in these top shoots and they’re not down close to the ground so if you cut them back too far – half or more of the stems off, all you’re going to do is get leaf growth buds and no flower – that’s true for 95% of the varieties although someof the newer varieties are repeat flowering ones.
What do you do with hydrangeas in winter? If they’re in pots I would suggest that they’re put somewhere where they can’t get too cold in really cold easterly winds if the temperatures drop below minus five or six.
Apart from that they’re fine outside – they’re fine in the garden. And are there any particular ones that keep their heads particularly well in the winter?
Well quite a lot of the macrophyllas do keep their heads if they’re not in too moist condition in the autumn and of course they change color from when they first flower through to the autumn and then and when they go dry in the winter they are particularly attractive in frosty weather. And also which ones are good for foliage?
There are some varieties like like this one which is Julissa which has that purple foliage all of the time – some of the Serratas like Bluebird color up nicely in in the autumn.
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