What You Need to Know About Hydrangeas – Orange County Register

What You Need to Know About Hydrangeas – Orange County Register

Aging discolored hydrangea. (Photo by Georgiana Lynn/Gibbs Smith Publisher)

There are many misconceptions about hydrangea, starting with its name. It is widely assumed that this name expresses the need for more moisture or hydration than the average plant. But this assumption is incorrect. Although the first part of the word (hydr-) refers to water, the second part (-angea) is derived from a Greek word meaning vessel. Together, the two parts of the word refer to the shape of flower buds before they open, a shape similar to that of an ancient vessel used to carry water. However, despite the origin of the word, hydrangeas still need more water than traditional garden plants.

Incidentally, the “range” in hydrangea is also in the word angisoperm, which means seed receptacle. Refers to the classification of the vast majority of flowering plants whose seeds are preserved and protected in containers, from pods to pits to capsules. In contrast, gymnosperms, meaning bare seed, refer primarily to conifers that bear their seeds between the scales of pine cones, for example, but are not found inside any type of receptacle. Angiosperms are considered an evolutionary advance because the development of seed-bearing vessels provides a measure of seed protection—and thus insurance for another generation of sprouts—that gymnosperms lack.

There is also a misconception regarding the hardiness of hydrangea. While it is true that the classic hydrangea (Hydrangea Macrophylla) cannot grow in the Antelope Valley but will grow well anywhere south of that area except on exceptionally cold nights, the climbing hydrangea (H. petiolaris), and the smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens) and oak leaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) can withstand winter temperatures up to 10 degrees. Peegee hydrangea (H. Paniculata) will also grow in Alaska and has been praised by Naomi Slater, author of the recently published “Hydrangeas” (Gibbs Smith, 2020) as follows: “H. paniculata is another hardy species, which is as handsome as it is Of trouble. The pointed flowers are often striking and can be dense or airy, depending on the cultivar. They tend to form a large shrub or even a small tree, potentially reaching 20 feet tall in a suitable location. … It’s simple in what Regarding the soil; it naturally prefers… good drainage with plenty of moisture, but if what is offered is heavy clay or unpromising gravel, it will make the best of the situation as long as it is not waterlogged, and will also tolerate drought.

It is worth taking a moment to stop at the oak hydrangea, a sprawling plant that is ideal for placing on a shady slope or under trees because it will spread and cover the ground in a fairly rapid manner. Slater describes it in these words: “Native to southeastern America, it has clusters of white flowers that form upright spiers or cascading avalanches. It is distinguished by its lobed foliage, which is attractive green in summer but really comes into its own in autumn, when it takes Shades of copper, crimson and rich inky purple.This species is slowly gaining popularity in our part of the world and I can attest from personal experience to its carefree growth and durability.

In Southern California, hydrangeas of all types have one weakness: direct afternoon sun. Such exposure will always fry the plants. An eastern exposure is ideal but a northern exposure with good ambient light is also acceptable. Exposure in any direction is fine as long as there are trees providing shade above. Hydrangea’s water needs are above average, but a two-inch layer of mulch applied frequently, kept free of stems, will extend the interval between watering.

Another misconception regarding hydrangeas is the idea that when it comes to colors, they are either pink or blue and sometimes red. But there is also a large group of two-colored varieties that deserve our attention. Nowadays, almost every time I visit a nursery, I seem to be looking at hydrangeas for the first time with so many new cultivars available. Hydrangea angustipetala ‘Golden Crane’ is a lace-caped hydrangea whose white and gold flowers emit a fragrance—unusual for a hydrangea—that permeates the air throughout your garden.

Naomi Slater’s book contains important instructions for successfully cutting hydrangeas for vases. “Take a clean bucket of cold water with you to the plant and cut nice, long stems right inside… The flowers wilt when they are very tender and fresh, so… choose older flowers that are fully expanded with petals that look more leafy… When you come back inside, Trim the bottoms of the stems under water, cutting them at an angle of about 45 degrees… Strip some or all of the leaves from the stem… Leave in a cool, shady place for a nice, long drink, at least two hours… If you discover your flowers have wilted… Don’t panic. Remove the leaves and immerse everything, flower heads and all, in room temperature water. Leave them for several hours to hydrate.

Slater extols the beauty of hydrangeas as they fade. She writes: “They have become newly beautiful, assuming a desirable silvery shade or developing a palette of blue, pink or green as they dry. Even when completely brown or skeletal, they are wonderful in fall flower arrangements, along with seasonal leaves and seed heads. To create For lasting bouquets of these flowers, she recommends this procedure: “Again, do not cut them too fresh – the young flowers will wilt and will not keep their shape. But later in the season, as they harden and turn papery, they become more flexible and can be harvested with impunity. Simply cut the mature flower onto a long stem, then arrange it in a dry vase or hang it upside down in a cool, dry place. The flowers will dry out but lose none of their beauty, and will last for several months.

Tip of the week: To propagate hydrangeas from softwood cuttings, Slater’s method is as follows: “You do it in the spring and early summer, by cutting off a new, flexible branch, and cutting the bottom to just below a leaf node. You can then remove the growing tip and most of the leaves and drop them in Pre-make a hole in a pot of compost. (You can dip the base in rooting hormone first, if you wish, but I never do that.) Cover the top with a plastic bag to create a moist environment and place it in a bright location out of direct sunlight. Roots should develop within 6 to 10 weeks, after which the plant can be transplanted into a pot.

For more information about plants and gardens, visit Joshua Siskin’s website at www.thesmartergardener.com. Send questions and photos to joshua@perfectplants.com.

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