This is the time of year when hydrangeas really shine in the garden; in fact they’ve been looking amazing for several weeks. They are not one of the quiet, unassuming flowers in the garden. Their huge pom-poms of flowers say “look at me!” If you look at the pom-pom closely, you’ll see that each pom-pom is actually a mass of lacy star-shaped flowers.
Hydrangea is a genus of about 100 species of flowering plants native marshes and wetlands of southern and eastern Asia (from Japan to China, the Himalaya and Indonesia) and North and South America. Their name combines the Greek words “hydor” meaning water and “angeion” meaning vessel, inspired both by their affinity for water and their seed pods that resemble miniature water jugs.
In the language of flowers, hydrangeas symbolize friendship, devotion, perseverance, and understanding. Their calming blue shades have also come to mean peace and tranquility. Not surprisingly, these opulent blooms were thought to convey pride and vanity in the conservative Victorian era.
Hydrangea colour is often a heated topic with hydrangea fanciers. Flower colour ranges from white and cream to many shades of blue, red, pink, or purple. The exact color often depends upon the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Acidic soils produce blue flowers, neutral soils produce pale cream petals, and alkaline soils result in pink or purple. This is because hydrangeas are one of very few plants that accumulate aluminium. Aluminium is released from acidic soils, and forms complexes in the hydrangea flower giving them their blue color.
A gardening caution: hydrangeas produce their main flower clusters from the tips of shoots formed from the previous season. If the terminal buds of these shoots are destroyed, the plant usually fails to bloom. The chief causes of destruction of the terminal buds are excessive winter cold and uninformed pruning. Be careful what you prune away! And one further tip; as the name suggests, these plants need lots of water during the summer.
There are 3 types of flower blooms in Hydrangea. They are:
Mophead – those with the pom-pom or globe shaped flower cluster, the most commonly recognized form of hydrangeas.
Panicle – those with long, somewhat cone-shaped flower clusters
Lacecap – those with flattened cluster of what appear to be tiny, immature buds surrounded at the edges by 4 to 5 larger flowers.
It doesn’t matter which one you have in your garden. All in all; they are a great shrub and flower to have in your garden!
The Farm Fresh Reference Guide is produced by the Fraser Valley Farm Direct Marketing Association in cooperation with the BC Ministry of Agriculture.
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