Landscape Spotlight: Hydrangea

Posted June 23, 2016 in Blog, Plant and Tree

Even if you don’t fancy yourself to have a green thumb or know much about plants and flowers, chances are you know some basics and can pick a few certain flowers out of a line-up.  Daisies, roses, tulips, lilies and hydrangeas are well-known, beautiful and make a great addition to your landscape.  The most striking out of this motley crew of loveliness is the hydrangea.

pink hydrangeaThere are several different varieties of this plant, and while their flowers don’t always resemble each other, their splendor goes unrivaled.  Hydrangeas are long-lived shrubs that are noted as very vigorous growers.  Blooming throughout the summer and into the fall, the extravagant blooms seem to exude an old-fashioned charm by infusing elegance into the garden.  Colors range from white, pink, lavender, rose, magenta, purple or blue, in a more pastel or a more vibrant hue, depending on your soil!

Most flowers that you will plant in your landscape are predetermined in color, but that is not the case for hydrangeas.  The colors of the flower heads can change color based on the pH in your soil.  Acidic soils with a pH less than 5.5 will produce blue flowers, soils with a pH greater than 5.5 will produce pink flowers.  With that being said, it is possible to change the flowers’ color, but it won’t happen over night.  The white flowers, however, are not affected by the soil pH at all and will remain white, despite your best efforts.

Color alteration takes time, and it is easier to change blue flowers to blue hydrangeapink rather than pink flowers to blue.  Start by having your soil’s pH tested.  To end up with blue flowers, you will need a lower pH, which you can do by adding peat moss or sulfur to the soil.  Light red or pink flowers can be achieved by adding limestone around the plant.  Keep in mind that the flower color will naturally fade, most often to a soft pink or green, but this is just the natural aging process of the flower.  Next year, the flowers will return to their original splendor.

Depending on which type of hydrangea is in your garden, will determine how you treat the pruning of the shrub.  The most common variety, which are excellent cold weather shrubs with beautiful almost-gigantic balls of flowers swaying in the breeze, should be pruned after the flowers fade.  The flower buds will form in the late summer and actually bud the next season, so only trim the visible dead wood.  A rule of thumb is to not trim these shrubs after August 1st, this will guarantee next season’s bounty.

The cone shaped, or panicle variety of hydrangeas should be treated differently than the smooth version. hydrangea panicle These gorgeous flowers bloom on new growth, so branch pruning is very important.  Pruning the branches in the winter, right before the new growth process starts is the key to success when it comes to new wood and bigger and showier flower heads.  Don’t go overboard with your trimming, however.  The flowers are heavy in relation, so old branches are important to keep the structural integrity of the shrub itself, which helps support the weight of the new growth.

Full sun in the morning, sprinkled with afternoon shade, and providing rich and moist soil is the most effective combination to grow happy and healthy hydrangeas.  Make sure that this plant gets plenty of water during the spring through fall seasons, because the leaves will wilt easily if the soil is too dry.  In the winter, it is best to take the extra precaution to ensure that there will be no winter damage so the plant will bloom again come spring.  One of the easiest and most effective ways to provide winter care is to build a wooden stake frame around the plant, wrap chicken wire around that frame and then fill the inside with materials like  mulch, pine needles or leaves, to be used as insulation.  Your hydrangea will thank you with bountiful blooms come spring when the landscapes come back to life!

Where you plant your hydrangea shrub is contingent on the type you are planting.  Depending on sun exposure, you can utilize your hydrangeas are foundation plantings, screen plantings or simply as a lush and lovely focal point in your landscape or garden.  MasterPLAN Landscape Design has an extensive background in low maintenance plantings, and it eager to share our knowledge with our clients!  If your property seems a little lackluster with wow-factor, reach out to MasterPLAN.  We specialize in backyard transformations that not only look beautiful, but are custom-tailored to function best for you and your family!  When you are ready to chat about the backyard of your dreams, we are ready to listen!

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