Hydrangeas are shrubs that flower in white, pink or blue in the summer and autumn. Their large, mop-headed flowers can change colour depending on the composition of the soil. Acid soil turns the flowers lilac or blue and while alkaline turns them pink.
Hydrangeas can range in height between 1 foot and 10 feet. The stems are light green but turn brown and woody with age. The dark-green leaves are between four and 10 inches in length. Flowers appear in apple-sized clusters of florets that have four petals each and may be white, lilac, pink or blue.
The shrub is native to East Asia and North and South America. It can be deciduous or evergreen, though hydrangeas native to temperate zones are deciduous. Hydrangeas sold and grown in Britain are typically imported from Japan.
In the garden, hydrangeas flower from summer until late autumn. The flowers are available commercially from early spring until late autumn.
The shrubs come from the genus Hydrangeaceae which belongs to the Cornales order of flowering shrubs and plants. These are woody plants and their petals, when present, occur in multiples of four.
Hydrangeas like a shady spot in well-drained soil. They do not like the open sun or cold, easterly winds. It’s good to work in some compost, leaf mould or manure into the soil before planting. The only pruning necessary with hydrangeas is the removal of a spent flower head, which should only take place early in the year, never in autumn.
Did You Know?
One of its main medical uses is to treat kidney and bladder ailments. The bark can be peeled off and used to treat bruises, sores and burns.