Hydrangea macrophylla, or French hydrangeas, are among our most beautiful garden staples.
These beautiful old-time plants grace nearly every shade garden in East Texas, and rightly so. They bloom without fail every year in shades ranging in deep blues, purple, pinks and all shades in between — sometimes all colors on the same plant. What other flower gives us so much color, such huge flowers, such glossy green leaves and dried flowers that will last for at least a year?
Hydrangeas require lots of water. As our summers warm up and dry out, that may become a problem, but not this year. We have had rains and the blooms were magnificent.
Just look at this beauty as it begins to dry. Notice the green as well as the pink coloring in it. This is when they give us yet another gift —- a dried bouquet to keep all winter.
Pick ones that look like this right now, hang them in a dark closet to dry, which can take a couple of weeks, and you will have them all winter and longer. Another way to keep them is to place them in a vase half full of water and let them stay in it until they dry. Either way, they dry beautifully.
There are many varieties of hydrangeas, but the old mopheads are the most common. New varieties such as the Endless Summer series will bloom throughout the summer.
Blooms can be made blue by adding acid such as sulfur, or Epsom salt to the soil in fall and again when the leaves begin to put out and again just before bloom time. You can add lime or super phosphate to make them pink. Some varieties will be either pink or blue regardless of the soil and some are white.
Most hydrangeas bloom blue here in East Texas. However, the more we water with alkaline water the lighter blue they get and are even turning pink.
Whatever color they are, they are beautiful and add a beautiful focal point to your garden. Hydrangeas need afternoon shade and soil that contains lots of compost, which will stay moist. Keep them mulched well and they will reward you for many years to come.