These high performing yet undemanding deciduous shrubs were a little out of fashion for a while being considered a little "common". Nowadays they are a "hot" item on the export cut flower market and as a garden plant they have deservedly earned the respect from a new generation of gardeners.
Hydrangeas are really easy to grow and will adapt to most conditions however they will perform their best when given some dapled afternoon shade and plenty of water when it is hot and dry in summer. The name Hydrangea comes from the Greek hydor which means water and aggos which means jar. Most Hydrangeas grown in New Zealand are varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla (large-leaved), often referred to as Mop Head or Lace Cap. The colour range includes shades of white, cream, blue and pink.
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The flower colour, especially in the blue and pink range is often dependent on your soil type. If you have alkaline soil then your flower heads will be pinker, if you have acid soil your flower heads will be a nice strong blue. You can alter your soil ph by adding Lime to intensify the pink shades and Aluminium sulphate for the blue shades. This must be done before flowering. Hydrangeas should be pruned in July or August and are one of the easiest shrubs to prune. Use a nice sharp pair of secateurs to cut just above the swollen leaf buds which will apear on either side of the stems. Cut back by at least 1/3. They are fabulous mass planted in a border, ideal for screening and hedging and simply wonderful picked for long lasting indoor display. Look too for Hydrangea grandiflora varieties which have elongated flower heads in a gorgeous frothy cream which fade to rusty pink as they age.
Hydrangea quercifolia is another top performer with coarse textured leaves that are reminiscent of an oak leaf. The foliage turns a rich red in autumn and holds well through the winter. The gorgeous large cream blooms on fresh green foliage in summer are almost secondary to the autumn display. So take another look at Hydrangeas, we promise you won';t be disapointed.
A hardy deciduous climbing Hydrangea that is self clinging. Dark green serrated leaves and pretty flattened white flower heads in summer. Something a little bit different to cover a wall or fence. Protect from afternoon sun. Deciduous.
I have seen this Hydrangea growing in England covering a whole brick wall in a court-yard and it looked fabulous. I have used to cover unsightly water tanks to great effect.
Colour: White Habit: Climbing Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: Climber
This is a very rare, self-clinging, climbing Hydrangea that hails from Mexico. The evergreen leaves are large, serrated and dark green. The flat white flower heads open from large buds and appear en masse in summer. Protect from harsh frost. Evergreen.
An interesting plant that can be used to cover an unsightly wall or fence, perhaps use it to cover a water tank if you live rural. Like me the plant may droop a little in our harsh afternoon sun but as long as it is well watered it will recover as the day cools. Perhaps happiest in a morning sun only position.
Colour: Cream Habit: Climbing Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: Climbing