Hardy Hydrangeas (2008) Gaston Tessier.doc

Hardy Hydrangeas (2008) Gaston Tessier.doc - Hardy...

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Hardy Hydrangeas Gaston Tessier The genus Hydrangea can be the mainstay of any summer garden with flowers that last for months at a time and change colour as the season progresses to add a whole new dimension to the landscape. They can be grown as shrubs, specimens, in mixed borders or even containers and the climbing varieties can be trained up walls, pergolas or arbors. Most are native to Japan, China and eastern North America along the Appalachian Mountains. Their flowers are quite different from others since they do not have true petals. The larger sterile sepals become the ‘pretend petals’ that surround the very small flowers which produce the seeds. The flower heads are classified as either ‘Mophead’, with lots of sterile sepals with a few tiny fertile flowers hidden within them or as ‘Lacecap’ which have a flat plate-like flower with a row or two of sepals around the rim and a mass of tiny flowers in the middle. This genus uses the tiny flowers to carry out the essential work of producing seeds and the larger ornamental and colourful sepals to attract insects to do the pollinating. Most other summer flowers drop their petals once they have been fertilized, but hydrangeas keep their sepals all summer and into the fall. Most The flowers of the macrophylla species of Hydrangea changes colour according to the acidity of the soil where they are planted. No other plant is capable of doing this. Growth requirements and care Being woodland plants by nature, they are happiest in settings of full sun to dappled shade with cool and moist conditions. Ideal soil should be rich in humus, moist and well drained. However, they will grow and bloom in clay, stony and even sandy soil, as long as there is sufficient moisture. They tolerate acidic as well as alkaline soil. They are fast growers but vary in their tolerance to sun, wind, salt, temperature and in pruning requirements depending on the species and variety. Pruning needs vary from species to species. As a rule of thumb, if the plant blooms on the previous year’s growth, pruning should be right after the blooms are spent. If it blooms on the current year’s growth, then pruning should be in late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant. Removing dead wood promotes rejuvenation and prevents the plants from becoming too large. Once planted, they demand little care or attention. Adding a good balanced fertilizer once in late spring or early summer will promote larger blooms. Mulching is a good practice since it helps the retention of moisture during hot spells. They can easily be propagated from seeds in the spring or rooted from softwood cuttings in early summer. Their fibrous roots make them easy plants to transplant
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